The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Frederick II (emperor)

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Edition of 1920. See also Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FREDERICK II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire: b. Jesi, near Ancona, Italy, 26 Dec. 1194; d. Fiorentino, 13 Dec. 1250. He was elected king of the Romans in 1196, again after the death of his father, Henry VI, and a third time on the excommunication of Otho IV, in 1211. He was already king of Sicily and duke of Suabia, under the joint regency of his mother and Pope Innocent II. He made a league with Philip Augustus, king of France, and after the defeat of Otho by the latter at the battle of Bouvines, was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1215. He received the imperial crown at Rome in 1220, on which occasion he had to renew a vow previously extorted from him to take the cross. In 1225 he married as his second wife, Yolande, daughter of John of Brienne, king of Jerusalem, and in 1227 embarked for the Holy Land. Illness compelled him in a few days to abandon the enterprise, and for this he was excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX. He set out again in 1228, and the Pope exciting opposition to him and invading his hereditary states, he at once concluded a truce with Kameel, the sultan of Egypt, by which he became master of Jerusalem. He entered the city, crowned himself (no priest daring to do it), and returned to Europe. He recovered his states, made peace with the Pope and suppressed the revolt of his son Henry, who was then imprisoned for life. In 1235 Frederick began the war with the cities of Lombardy, having for his ally Eccelino, tyrant of Verona. After his victory of Cortenuova, he took Ravenna, Faenza and Benevento; and in 1241 his fleet defeated that of the Genoese, and captured the cardinals and bishops who were on their way to attend a council against him. Frederick promoted the election of Innocent IV, who had been his friend and made a treaty with him, but soon found Innocent a most determined enemy. A new anathema and sentence of deposition and release of his subjects from their allegiance to him was published in 1245. The mediation of Saint Louis utterly failed to bend the Pope to reconciliation. Rival emperors were set up, the war in Italy continued, Parma was lost in 1248, his, Frederick's, son, Enzio, was defeated and made prisoner in the following year. Frederick was the most accomplished sovereign of the Middle Ages; but his strong sympathies with his Italian motherland and his unremitting endeavors to establish a compact and all-supreme empire in Italy, were the causes not only of his own misfortune but of the miseries which he brought on the German empire by embroiling it in costly wars abroad and leading him to neglect the welfare and to sacrifice the interests of his German subjects.