The New International Encyclopædia/Frederick II. (Roman emperor)

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FREDERICK II. (1194-1250). King of Sicily from 1197, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1215 to 1250. He was a grandson of Frederick I., and the son of the Emperor Henry VI. and of Constance, heiress of Sicily. He was born at Jesi, near Ancona, in Italy, December 26, 1194. His mother secured the favor of Pope Innocent III. for her infant son by conceding many important privileges to the Papal chair; and on the death of Constance, in 1198, the Pope became the guardian of the young Prince. As early as 1208 Frederick assumed the reins of government in his realm, which included South Italy in addition to Sicily. Supported by the Pope, Frederick, in 1212, enjraged in a contest for the Imperial throne of Germany, with Otho IV., who had as yet not succeeded in securing himself in its possession after his long struggle with the rival claimant, Philip of Swabia, assassinated by Otho of Wittelsbach, in 1208. The blow dealt to Otho IV. by Philip Augustus of France in 1214, in the battle of Bouvines, secured the triumph of Frederick, who was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1215. On his coronation Frederick took a vow to go on a crusade. Having secured the election of his son Henry as King of the Romans, and leaving Archbishop Engelbert of Cologne as his vicegerent, he went to Italy, and was crowned Emperor at Rome, by Pope Honorius, in 1220. Frederick now devoted himself to the task of organizing his Italian territories. He founded the University of Naples, gave encouragement to the medical school of Salerno, invited to his Court men of learning, poets, and artists, and commissioned his Chancellor, Petrus de Vineis, to draw up a code of laws. Frederick, however, was hampered in his projects by the refractory conduct of the Lombard cities, which in 1226 renewed the league formed against Frederick Barbarossa, and still more by the opposition of the popes. As he delayed going on a crusade, he was threatened with excommunication unless he fulfilled his pledge. Being compelled to depart on this expedition, he made the necessary preparations for its prosecution, and actually started in 1227. He returned in three days, saying that he was ill, whereupon Gregory IX., the successor to Honorius III., excommunicated him. In 1228 Frederick again set out for the Holy Land. This second expedition proved successful, and in 1229 Frederick made a ten years' truce with the Sultan of Egypt, who gave up Jerusalem and the territory around Jaffa and Nazareth, Frederick crowning himself King of Jerusalem. The rest of his life was spent in attempting to bring his rebellious Lombard subjects to subjection, and in struggles with Popes Gregory IX. and Innocent IV. He died suddenly in 1250. Frederick II. was famed for his talents as a minnesinger, for his skill in all knightly exercises, and for his varied learning. He was tolerant in matters of religion, and in his reforms showed himself far in advance of his time. His strong sympathies with his Italian mother-land, and his unremitting endeavors to establish a compact and all-supreme empire in Italy, were the causes, not only of his own misfortunes, but of the miseries which he brought upon Germany; for, by embroiling him in costly wars abroad, they led him to neglect the welfare of his German subjects. Consult: Huillard-Bréholles, Historia Diplomatica Friderici Secundi (12 vols., Paris, 1852-1861), the first volume of which gives an excellent account of him; Blondel, Etude sur la politique de l'empereur Frédéric II. en Allemagne (Paris, 1892). See Hohenstaufen.