Frederick I of Hohenstaufen, called Barbarossa because of the color of his beard, was born in the year 1122 in present-day Germany. He was the son of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Duke of Swabia and Judith of Bavaria. After the death of his father in the year 1147, Frederick Barbarossa inherited the throne becoming Frederick III.

Shortly after, Barbarossa was proclaimed as the first King of the Holy Roman Empire, in the assembly of princes.

In the first days of his reign, he had to resolve the internal struggles between two political factions, the Guelphs of Bavaria and the Hohenstaufen Ghibellines, the former supported the Pontificate and the Hohenstaufen Ghibellines the King.

To find a solution, Barbarossa ceded the duchy of Saxony to his cousin Henry (duke of Bavaria and the most powerful of the Guelph chiefs) and entrusted him with the direction of the campaigns to conquer Poland.

Of course, for Barbarossa it was not enough to be King, he wanted to be Emperor and, for this, he needed to win the favor of the Supreme Pontiff, promising Pope Eugene III that he would quell the rebellion of the Romans. To prove it, Barbarossa invaded Italy with his army in 1154, controlling the citizen rebellion, and as a result, in 1155 he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome by then Pope Adrian IV.

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When he becomes Emperor, Barbarossa demonstrates his greed, invading Italy by force and trying to subdue the Pope, through military campaigns. Pope Adrian concentrated his forces in the region of Lombardy. 

The conflict escalated in 1159, when Alexander III was named Pope,. He excommunicated Barbarossa who, in an act of rebellion, created an alternative pontificate, naming the antipopes Victor IV (1159) and Pascual III (1164).

As an act of force, Barbarossa invaded Milan, the most populous city in Lombardy, which he besieged and destroyed in the year 1162. As an act of defense, the remaining cities created the Confederation of Free Cities or the Lombard League.

Barbarossa began to retreat, since diseases killed more soldiers than war, and his cousin Henry, to whom he had earlier given a Duchy, refused to come to his aid. Faced with this reality, Barbarossa signs a peace accord with Venice and recognizes Alexander III as the Pope and thus achieves a truce with most Italian cities.

When Pope Alexander III dies, Gregory VIII takes over. He was more interested in the Holy Land than Italy, after the Muslim general Saladin had reconquered Jerusalem. To prevent the region from falling back into the hands of Islam, the Pope proclaimed a new Crusade.

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 The Third Crusade began on April 23, 1189, and was led by Barbarossa, Richard I of England and Philip II of France. Just the German Emperor contributed 13,000 soldiers under his command. While his forces were crossing the Saleph river in Anatolia, Barbarossa drowned in 1190, in unclear circumstances.

Legend has it that Barbarossa did not die, but that he is still sleeping somewhere in the mountains, waiting for the moment to wake up and return Germany to its former splendor.


Perfil del autor

Cesar Leo Marcus, nació en Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Doctor (PhD) en Logistica Internacional y Comercio Exterior, y Máster (MBA) en Sociología Económica, fue profesor de ambas cátedras en las Universidades de Madrid (España) y Cordoba (Argentina).
Periodista, publica en periódicos de California, Miami y New York. Escritor, publico 12 libros, y editor literario, director de Windmills Editions. Actualmente reside en California.

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