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Frederick II of the House of Hohenstaufen
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska

HRE coa


The Holy Roman Empire was the name used to describe the German countries of Europe. Each country had its own ruler, king, duke, or some lesser nobleman. The name was based on the idea that the Romans ruled the civilized parts of Europe and Africa, so the word "Roman" stood for power. "Holy" was because the countries were all united (in the beginning) in the Roman Catholic Church with the Pope as their spiritual head.

In February 962, the first Holy Roman Emperor was crowned, in St. Peter's, by Pope John XII (b. 937). He was German King Otto I, who was a descendant of the French king Charlemagne.


Hohenstaufen was a German princely family that took its name from their castle of Staufen. Staufen was built in 1077 by Swabian Count Frederick. Frederick married Agnes, the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, and was created the Duke of Swabia. The first of his line begins with his son, Conrad III. The chief rival of the Hohenstaufen was the Guelphs. The Guelphs were related to Otto IV (1209-1215).

The subject of this article is Frederick II. On the lineage chart below, you can see that he had a son, Conrad, by his second wife, Yolante, daughter of John de Brienne, King of Jerusalem, whom he married in 1225. Conrad's illegitimate brother, Manfred, (son of Bianca Lancia) was regent to Conrad's son, Conradin. Manfred died in 1256 and his nephew, Conradin, was executed in 1268. Frederick II's other illegitimate son, Enzio of Sardinia (son of Adelbeid Enzo) died in 1272, thus making the male family line extinct.

Manfred was born circa 1232, and died in battle in 1266 (some accounts say 1256). Manfred's son-in-law was Peter III of Aragon.

Frederick II has a total of 20 children. His known mistresses were Bianca Lancia, Adelheid Enzio, Richina of Wolfsoden, and Matilda of Antioch.


Frederick I (d. 1105), von Staufen was the Duke of Swabia (r. 1079-1105). Swabia was a duchy in medieval Germany. Frederick I married Agnes, the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV (d. 1125), son of Henry III (1039-1056) of the House of Salian.

After Agnes married (2) Leopold III (1073-1193), Margrave of Austria after 1105. He was later known as Saint Leopold. Their children were:

..... Adalbert (1107-1197) married (1) Adeline, daughter of Boleslaw III, Duke of Poland (2)Hedwig, daughter of Prince Almus of Hungary in 1132.

..... Leopold IV (1108-1141), Margrave of Austria in 1136, and Duke of Bavaria in 1139.

..... Otto, Bishop of Freising (1109-1158)

..... Agnes (1111-1157) married in 1125/7 to Wladislaw II, Duke of Poland

..... Henry II (1114-1177), Jasomirgott Margrave in 1141; and Duke of Austria in 1156. Henry married (1) Gertrude (d. 1143), daughter of Lothair, HRE (2) Theodora (d. 1184), daughter of Andronikos Comnenos.

..... Conrad (1120-1167), Archbishop of Saltzburg.

..... Gertrude (1120-1151) married Wladislaw II, King of Bohemia (d. 1174) married (2) in 1153, to Judith of Thuringia.


The sons of Frederick I and Agnes were:

(1) 1105-1147 Frederick II, (1090-1147) Duke of Swabia in 1105. Frederick married (1)*Judith, daughter of Henry, Duke if Bavaria. They had issue:

..... Frederick I (b. 1123)Barbarossa(see below)

..... Bertha married Matthew, Duke of Lorraine circa 1138.

Frederich then married (2) Agnes, daughter of Frederick, Count of Saarbrucken in 1135. They had issue:

.....Conrad, the Count Palatine (d. 1195). Conrad married Irmgaed (d. 1197), daughter of Bernhold I, Count of Hennberg.

..... Jutta (d. 1191) married Louis II, Landgrave of Thuringia (d. 1172) in 1150.

(2) 1138-1152 - Conrad III, Duke of Swabia. Conrad married Gertrude (d. 1146), daughter of Berengar II, Count of Sulzbach. Had two sons:

..... Henry (1137-1150)

..... Frederick IV (d. 1167), Duke of Swabia. Frederich married Gertrude (d. 1196), the daughter of Henry The Lion.


1152-1190 - Frederick I, Barbarosa, Holy Roman Emperor, was the son of Frederick II and his first wife Judith. He was also Frederick III, Duke of Swabia (1147-1152) (crowned emperor in 1155). He married (1) Adeline, in 1147. Adeline was the daughter of Diepold III, Margrave of Vohburg. They divorced in 1153. (2) Beatrice (d. 1184), in 1156. Beatrice was the daughter of Renaud II, the County of Burgundy.

Frederick was an ambitious monarchist. He had a vision of a restored Carolingian Empire; and a return to the era before the Gregorian reforms had altered the balance between Church and State. Pope Adrian IV crowned Frederick and changed the wording of the service so as to make it plain that the Emperor was subordinate to the Pope. Adrian's successor was Alexander III, and he excommunicated Frederick I and released his subjects from obedience to him. Frederick reacted by invading Italy, in 1162, and attacking the supporters of Pope Alexander III. Alexander criticized Frederick for dividing the Church and oppressing the papacy, which emperors were supposed to protect.

Pascal III was the new anti-pope and he crowned Frederick amd his wife on July 22, 1167. Byzantium's Emperor Manuel I Comnenus proposed the union of the Western Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches under papal control, if the pope would allow him to remove Frederick and make Comnenus joint ruler of both empires.

The pope did NOT accept his terms, because he wished to reconcile with Frederick. In the Peace of Venice (in 1177), Frederick recognized Alexander as Pope, and made peace with the Lombard cities and Sicily. Alexander concieved Church and State as distinct, but interdependent powers, in the world.


1190-1197 - Henry VI (B. 1165) of Swabia (son of Frederick I and Beatrice, co-rent 1169; crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1190/91. Henry married Constance (1154-1198), the daughter of Roger II, King of Sicily.

Henry's Siblings were:

.......Frederick I (1164-1191, Duke of Swabia (r. 1170-1191), Duke of Dipold, Third Margrave of Vohberg. Frederick married Margaret (d. 1231), daughter of Theobald, Count of Blois.

.......Otto of Burgundy (1167-1200)

.......Conrad (1172-1196) Duke of Swabia (r. 1191-1196)

.......Phillip, Duke of Swabia (r. 1196-1208) was born in 1176. He was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1198. He married Irene in 1197. Irene was the daughter of Isaak II, Emperor of Constantinople (d. 1208)

.......1198-1218 - Otto IV of Brunswick (1174-1218) was crowned king in 1191 and Emperor in 1209. He married Beatrice (1198-1212) in 121. Beatrice was the daughter of Philip, Duke of Swabia (r. 1208-1212), son of Frederick I, Barbarossa. Beatrice and Frederick II were cousins. Otto IV was of the House of Welf.


Frederick II (b. 1194), King of Germany (1212-1250), was the son of Henry VI. Frederick was crowned emperor in 1220. He married (1)Constance in 1222. Their son was Henry (2) Yolante in 1228. There son was Conrad IV. (3) Isabella in 1235. Isabella (1214-1241) was the daughter of John King of England. Their daughter was Margaret (1237-1270). Margaret married Albrecht I (1240-1315), Margrave of Meissen, and Landgrave of Thuringia.

It was legend that HRH Frederick II was known to butcher hisn dinner guests so he could study the human digestive system (Powell, 53).


Henry, King of Germany (1220-1235), son of Frederick II. He was co-regent. Henry was deposed by his father in favor of his helf-brother, Conrad. Henry died in 1242. Henry married, in 1225, to Margaret (d. 1267), daughter of Leopold VI, Duke of Austria. She married Piemysl Ottokar II, King of Bohemia, in 1252, after Henry's death.


1246-1247 - Henry Raspe Landgrave of Thuringia (d. 1247) was the great-grandson of Frederick II, Duke of Swabia.

1247-1256 - William , Count of Holland, the anti-king. He fell died in battle.


1250-1254 - Conrad IV (son of Frederick II, co-regent 1237). Conrad married Elizabeth (1227-1273), the daughter of Otto I, Duke of Bavaria. They were married in 1246.

..... Conradin (1252-1268), their son, was Duke of Swabia and King of Sicily in 1266. However, his kingship was opposed by Charles of Anjou who had the support of Pope Urban IV. Conrad took up arms to keep his throne, but was defeated and captured. He was beheaded on October 28, 1268. His body was dismembered and pieces of his flesh were passed around to the watching crowd, at age sixteen (16).

1257-1272 - Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III of England, was a brother-in-law of Frederick II.

From here the Holy Roman Empire goes to Rudolf I (II) (b. 1218) of the House of Hapsburg from 1273-1291. Rudolf married (1) in 1245, to Gertrude (1225-1281), the daughter of Burchard III, Count of Hohenburg. (2)in 1284, to Agnes (1270-1323), daughter of Hugh IV, Duke of Burgundy. Agnes marred Peter of Chambly after Rudolf's death, in 1240, and was the son of Albrecht IV, Count of Habsburg.


Frederick II

Frederick II was the King of Sicily (as Frederick I) in 1197; the Roman King in 1212, and Holy Roman Emperor in 1220. Frederick was born in 1194 and died in 1250. Frederick married:

(1) Constance, daughter of Alphonse II, King of Aragon in 1210. She died in 1222, and is buried in Palermo Cathedral in an antique marble sarcophagus. Constance was the widow of Emmerich I, King of Hungary. Emmerich married her in 1198, and died in 1204. Constance was ten years older than Frederick II. Her son, Henry, was deposed, by his father, in favor of his son Conrad.

(2) Yolante, daughter of John de Brienne, King of Jerusalem, in 1225. She was only fifteen (15) years old when she married Frederick II. Her son Conrad was born in 1228 [when she was only nineteen (19)]. She died in childbirth. Yolande also had a daughter that died young.

(3) Isabella (1214-1241) of England, was the daughter of John, King of England. They married in 1235. They had a daughter and three sons:

  1. Margaret of Sicily, margravine of Meissen
  2. Henry Charlotte of Sicily
  3. Frederick of Sicily
  4. Carl Otto of Sicily

It is thought that Frederick II used the services of harem girls while in Sicily, and had at least one illegitimate son that he claimed.

Frederick II had quite a few illegitimate children:

    By unknown mistresses:
  • Selvaggia - issue of a harem girl?
  • Conrad of Antioch
  • Richard of Theate
  • Catarina of Marano
  • Blanchefleur
  • Gerhard
  • Frederick of Pettorana

Henry II was the only Holy Roman Emperor to wear his crown in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Frederick's grandfather was Frederick I (1152-1190), Barbarossa, of the House of Hohenstaufen. His mother was Constance of Sicily, the daughter of Roger II of Sicily. He was born while his father and mother were on their way to Sicily . His father was Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.

Frederick II was born on December 26, 1194, in the town of Jesi in the march of Ancona. The name of his birthplace recalled that of Jesus and he thought of it as the New Bethlehem. His birth was one day after his father was crowned King of Sicily and southern Italy in Palermo. Sicily was ruled by the Hautevilles. Hauteville was a duchy in southern Italy. His birth was one day after his father was crowned King of Sicily and southern Italy in Palermo. From birth he was heir to the crowned King of Sicily and southern Italy in Palermo. Frederick was first named Constantine after his mother Constance of Sicily. She bore him at age forty (40). Henry died suddenly in Messina, in 1197.

Henry's older brother was Philip of Swabia. However, Frederick was anointed King of Sicily in 1198. Constance, his mother, died in November 1198 (at age 43) after having reigned on her own for a year and a half. Constance's father was Roger II of Sicily. By 1208, Frederick came of age. He was then age fourteen (14). Pope Innocent arranged for his marriage to Constance of Aragon, Frederick II was elected king on December 5th at Frankfurt. Frederick was crowned king of the Romans four days later at Mainz.

Frederick was red-haired, like his grandfather, and was near-sighted. He was a Norman and he loved to hunt birds. He learned falconry from Konrad von Lützelhard, a Teutonic Knight. Frederick had a long association with the Teutonic Knights. Hermann von Salza, Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, stood with Frederick and was handsomely rewarded as he had built Frederick's trust. Hermann was particularly interested in the Baltic Sea for the future domain of the Teutonic Order. Frederick was more like a Renaissance ruler, than a Medieval one. He was a patron of the arts and sciences, a man of culture and learning, and even wrote a book on the hunting of birds. Hunting birds was one of his passion. He was intolerant of Jews and mean-minded.

After his election, Gregory IX immediately reminded Frederick of his promise to go on a crusade. This was to be in 1225 or there would be the pain of excommunication. By summer 1225, Frederick had his fleet ready to transport his "Crusader Army." Then the plague struck. The plague spread through the army, and even Frederick was affected. They set sail, but returned because of Frederick's ill health. Frederick set foot on land and told his fleet to go ahead without him. He then told Pope Gregory that he would be returning to his men in early 1228, when he was well. Gregory thought it was an excuse and excommunicated Frederick. Despite this, Frederick rejoined the crusaders in 1228 (as scheduled) and made a truce with Muslims, which granted the Christians possession of Jerusalem. Frederick's peace with the Muslims was seen as a betrayal of the crusading spirit. However, Frederick's truce with the Muslims proven to be real, at least for the time being. Two years later, in 1230, Pope Gregory agreed to call a truce between he and Frederick. This peace only lasted six years.

In March 1239, Gregory again excommunicated Frederick for what he thought was incorrect handling of Lombardy. Many cardinals were opposed to Gregory's decision, but he stood his ground. From this point on, the Hohenstaufen were considered enemies of the popes.

Frederick brought back many exotic animals from the Holy Lands. These animals included camels, leopards, and apes. Frederick also admired some of the inventions of the Arabs, such as the spiral staircase, the wheelbarrow, and hard cakes (bread), which traveled better than soft ones. In July 1230, Frederick was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX. It is said that Frederick told the pope that the three greatest swindlers in history were Moses, Jesus Christ, and Mohammed. Frederick was excommunicated twice, and was villified in the chronicles of his time. Pope Gregory IX (c. 1170-1271) called him the Antichrist.

Conrad IV of Hohenstaufen, Frederick's son was both King of Jerusalem and king of the Romans. He died in 1254. His first son, Henry was also dead at that time.

Frederick II's own death came after he had been suffering ill health for a few months. On December 1250, he had a violent bout with dysentery. He made his will on December 7, 1250, at the Castle Fiorentino in Apulia, Puglia, Italy . He named Conrad as his heir in Germany, Italy, and Sicily. When Conrad died, then Henry, son of Isabella was to succeed. His line was left totally without direct line heirs. His illegitimate son was called Manfred, but he was not thought of in the will. Frederick was buried in the Cathedral at Palermo, where his father, Henry VI; his mother, Constance; and his first wife Constance lay. Frederick II died on December 13, 1250, just 13 days short of his fifty-sixth birthday. After Friedrich's death, "there were many who believed he had not died, but was merely sleeping on a mountain top, and like Arthur of England, was ready to return whenever his people had need of him" (Yapp, Intro). He would then rule a 1000 year reich. Strangely enough, Adolf Hitler saw himself as the inheritor of the 1000 year reich, and saw himself, and his Third Reich, as being the embodiment of Frederick's legend. Frederick was known as Stupor mundi ("Wonder of the World"). He was able to speak nine languages, and be literate in seven. This was an amazing feat in a time when most nobles were illiterate. Frederick patronized the Sicilian School of Poetry. His royal court was in Palermo from 1220 until his death.


Conrad IV was born on April 25, 1228, in Andria, Italy to Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II and queen regent of Jerusalem, Yolanda. Conrad died on May 21, 1254, in Lavello. Conrad was king of Jerusalem (as Conrad II) from 1228-1253; King of Germany from 1237-1254, after his father deposed his elder half-brother, Henry. Conrad was to be the future Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Archbishop Siegfried II of Mainz was regent until 1242, when Frederick chose Henry Raffe, Landgrave of Thuringia and Wenceslas I of Bohemia, to assume this function. Pope Innocent imposed a papal ban on Frederick in 1245. Henry Raspe supported the Pope and Raspe was elected as counter-king of Germany on May 22, 1246. Raspe defeated Conrad in the battle of Nidda in August 1246, and then Raspe died several months later. Conrad was King of Sicily (as Conrad I) from 1250-1254. Conrad married Elizabeth of Bavaria, daughter of Otto II Wittelsback, Duke of Bavaria in 1246. Their son, Conradin, was born in 1252. Conrad was excommunicated in 1254, and he died of a fever in the same year. His widow then married Meinhard II, Count of Tyrol and had more children. Meinhard became Duke of Carinthia in 1286.


Austrian and Bavarian Crown Jewels


Abulafia, David. Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Louda, Jiri (tables). Lines of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2002.

Morby, John E. Oxford Dynasties of the World. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Powell, Michael. The Lowbrow Guide to World History . New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2004.

Yapp, Nick. The German Millenium. Koln: Konemann, 2000.

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