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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And first of all Frederick Barbarossa


Immediately

afterwards, Frederick made his _sixth_ journey to Italy, without an army, but accompanied by a magnificent retinue. The temporary union of the cities against him was at an end, and their former jealousies of each other had broken out more fiercely than ever; so that, instead of meeting him in a hostile spirit, each endeavored to gain his favor, to the damage of the others. It was easy for him to turn this state of affairs to his own personal advantage. The Pope, now Urban III., endeavored to make him give up Tuscany to the Church, and opposed his design of marrying his son Henry to Constance, daughter of the king of Sicily, since all Southern Italy would thus fall to the Hohenstaufen family. Another excommunication was threatened, and would probably have been hurled upon the Emperor's head, if the Pope had not died before pronouncing it. The marriage of Henry and Constance took place in 1186.

[Sidenote: 1190.]

The next year, all Europe was shaken by the news that Jerusalem had been taken by Sultan Saladin. A call for a new Crusade was made from Rome, and the Christian kings and people of Europe responded to it. Richard of the Lion-Heart, of England; Philip Augustus of France; and first of all Frederick Barbarossa, Roman Emperor, put the cross on their mantles, and prepared to march to the Holy Land. Frederick left his son Henry behind him, as king, but he was still suspicious of Henry the Lion, and demanded

that he should either join the Crusade or retire again to England for three years longer. Henry the Lion chose the latter alternative.

The German Crusaders, numbering about 30,000, met at Ratisbon in May, 1189, and marched overland to Constantinople. Then they took the same route through Asia Minor which had been followed by the second Crusade, defeating the Sultan and taking the city of Iconium by the way, and after threading the wild passes of the Taurus, reached the borders of Syria. While on the march, the Emperor received the false message that his son Henry was dead. The tears ran down his beard, no longer red, but silver-white; then, turning to the army, he cried: "My son is dead, but Christ lives! Forwards!" On the 10th of June, 1190, either while attempting to ford, or bathing in the little river Calycadnus, not far from Tarsus, he was drowned. The stream, fed by the melted snows of the Taurus, was ice-cold, and one account states that he was not drowned, but died in consequence of the sudden chill. A few of his followers carried his body to Palestine, where it was placed in the Christian church at Tyre. Notwithstanding the heroism of the English Richard at Ascalon, the Crusade failed, since the German army was broken up after Frederick's death, most of the knights returning directly home.

The most that can be said for Frederick Barbarossa as a ruler, is, that no other Emperor before or after his time maintained so complete an authority over the German princes. The influence of his personal presence seems to have been very great: the Imperial power became splendid and effective in his hands, and, although he did nothing to improve the condition of the people, beyond establishing order and security, they gradually came to consider him as the representative of a grand _national_ idea. When he went away to the mysterious East, and never returned, the most of them refused to believe that he was dead. By degrees the legend took root among them that he slumbered in a vault underneath the Kyffhaeuser--one of his castles, on the summit of a mountain, near the Hartz,--and would come forth at the appointed time, to make Germany united and free. Nothing in his character, or in the proud and selfish aims of his life, justifies this sentiment which the people attached to his name; but the legend became a symbol of their hopes and prayers, through centuries of oppression and desolating war, and the name of "Barbarossa" is sacred to every patriotic heart in Germany, even at this day.


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