The New International Encyclopædia/Frederick I. (Roman emperor)
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Frederick I. (Roman emperor)
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FREDERICK I. (1121-90). Holy Roman Emperor from 1152 to 1190, surnamed Barbarossa or Redbeard. He was born in 1121, succeeded his father, Frederick, as Duke of Swabia, in 1147, and his uncle, Conrad III., as King of Germany, in 1152. On his father's side he belonged to the Hohenstaufen family; on his mother's side to the Guelphs. In the early years of his reign Frederick reduced Germany to order, and then proceeded to reëstablish the Imperial authority in Italy. The Lombard cities, with Milan at their head, flourishing and powerful, and strengthened by the Papal power in their opposition to the Imperial pretensions, were prepared to resist Frederick's attempt to subjugate them. After receiving the Lombard crown at Pavia, Frederick marched in 1155 to Rome, reinstated the authority of Pope Adrian IV., to whom he delivered up Arnold of Brescia, and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1158 he besieged and took Milan. In the same year, at a Diet held at Roncaglia, Frederick imposed upon the Lombard cities a full feudal regime. Although the cities submitted for the moment, they soon rebelled. In 1159 began the long contest between Frederick Barbarossa and Pope Alexander III., the successor to Adrian IV. The Emperor created an antipope in the person of Victor IV., the first of several anti-popes set up by him. The city of Crema was reduced by Frederick after a long siege in 1160, and in 1161-62 he besieged and took Milan, and razed it to the ground. Frederick was triumphant everywhere; but in 1167 the Lombard cities formed a league against him and renewed the struggle. Frederick was completely defeated at Legnano in 1176; and in 1183, in a peace concluded at Constance, he finally agreed to leave the Lombard cities the right to choose their own municipal rulers, and to conclude treaties and leagues among themselves, although he retained his suzerainty over them, together with the power of imposing certain fixed taxes. The difficulty of settling the Italian differences had been aggravated by the attitude of Pope Alexander III. At last, in 1177, Frederick made his peace with the Pope, and was enabled to turn his attention to Germany, where he had to contend with Henry the Lion (q.v.), Duke of Bavaria and Saxony, the powerful head of the House of Guelph. By his energetic measures Frederick succeeded in thoroughly humbling his troublesome vassal, and crushing the Guelph power in Germany. In 1189, having settled the affairs of the Empire and proclaimed universal peace in his dominions, he resigned the government to his eldest son, Henry, and at the head of about 100,000 men set forth for the Holy Land. After gaining two great victories over the Moslems at Philomelium and Iconium, he was drowned in the Calycadnus, a small stream in Cilicia (1190). His remains were rescued by his son, and buried at Tyre. The death of Frederick, which led to the dispersion of the Crusaders before any material advantage had been obtained over the infidels, excited the deepest grief in Germany, where his memory has always been cherished as that of the best and greatest of his race. Frederick made Poland tributary to the Empire, raised Bohemia to the rank of a kingdom, and erected the Margraviate of Austria into an independent hereditary duchy. He was a patron of learning, and enacted many admirable laws, some of which were based upon the Roman law. Consult: Prutz, Kaiser Friedrich I. (3 vols., Danzig, 1871-73); Fischer, Kreuzzug Friedrichs I. (Leipzig, 1870); Giesebrecht, Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit, vol. v. (Leipzig, 1880-95).