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Frederick II

Rivalry for the German Crown

In 1196, Henry VI secured the election as German king, or emperor-elect, for his infant son Frederick. When Henry died (1197), his brother, Philip of Swabia, was unable to hold the German magnates to this election, but in Sicily Constance secured Frederick's investiture as king from Pope Innocent III. Prior to her death (1198) Constance named the pope as Frederick's guardian; as a child, however, he passed from one Sicilian faction to another.

Meanwhile, in Germany, Otto of Brunswick (Otto IV) and Philip of Swabia were elected rival kings. Otto finally prevailed and was crowned emperor (1209) at Rome, but immediately alienated the pope by attempting to reassert imperial control in Italy. His invasion of Apulia (1210) led Innocent to promote Frederick's coronation (1212) at Mainz as German king, even though this meant putting a Hohenstaufen on the imperial throne. After Otto's defeat at Bouvines (1214) by Frederick's French ally King Philip II, Frederick was recrowned (1215) at Aachen and took the Cross (i.e., pledged to lead a Crusade).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: German History: Biographies


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