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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

And when Konradin entered Rome


two rivals, in fact, were near their end. Konrad IV. went to Italy and took possession of the kingdom of his father, which his step-brother, Manfred, governed in his name. He made an earnest attempt to be reconciled with the Pope, but Innocent IV. was implacable. He then collected an army of 20,000 men, and was about to lead it to Germany against William of Holland, when he suddenly died, in 1254, in the 27th year of his age. It was generally believed that he had been poisoned. William of Holland, since there was no one to dispute his claim, obtained a partial recognition of his sovereignty in Germany; but, having undertaken to subdue the free farmers in Friesland, he was defeated. While attempting to escape, his heavy war-horse broke through the ice, and the farmers surrounded and slew him. This was in 1256, two years after Konrad's death. Innocent IV. had expended no less than 400,000 silver marks--a very large sum in those days--in supporting him and Henry Raspe against the Hohenstaufens.

[Sidenote: 1256.]

Konrad IV. left behind him, in Suabia, a son Konrad, who was only two years old at his father's death. In order to distinguish him from the latter, the Italians gave him the name of _Conradino_ (Little Konrad), and as Konradin he is known in German history. He was educated under the charge of his mother, Queen Elizabeth, and his uncle Ludwig II., Duke of Bavaria. When he was ten years old, the Archbishop

of Mayence called a Diet, at which it was agreed that he should be crowned King of Germany, but the ceremony was prevented by the furious opposition of the Pope. Konradin made such progress in his studies and exhibited so much fondness for literature and the arts, that the followers of the Hohenstaufens saw in him another Frederick II. One of his poems is still in existence, and testifies to the grace and refinement of his youthful mind.

After Konrad IV.'s death, the Pope claimed the kingdom of Naples and Sicily as being forfeited to the Church, but found it prudent to allow Manfred to govern in his name. The latter submitted at first, but only until his authority was firmly established: then he declared war, defeated the Papal troops, drove them back to Rome, and was crowned king in 1258. The news of his success so agitated the Pope that he died shortly afterwards. His successor, Urban IV., a Frenchman, who imitated his policy, found Manfred too strongly established to be defeated without foreign aid. He therefore offered the crown of Southern Italy to Charles of Anjou, the brother of king Louis IX. of France. Physically and intellectually, there could be no greater contrast than between him and Manfred. Charles of Anjou was awkward and ugly, savage, ignorant and bigoted: Manfred was a model of manly beauty, a scholar and poet, a patron of learning, a builder of roads, bridges and harbors, a just and noble ruler.

Charles of Anjou, after being crowned king of Naples and Sicily by the Pope, and having secured secret advantages by bribery and intrigue, marched against Manfred in 1266. They met at Benevento, where, after a long and bloody battle, Manfred was slain, and the kingdom submitted to the usurper. By the Pope's order, Manfred's body was taken from the chapel where it had been buried, and thrown into a trench: his widow and children were imprisoned for life by Charles of Anjou.

[Sidenote: 1268. KONRADIN IN ITALY.]

The boy Konradin determined to avenge his uncle's death, and recover his own Italian inheritance. His mother sought to dissuade him from the attempt, but Ludwig of Bavaria offered to support him, and his dearest friend, Frederick of Baden, a youth of nineteen, insisted on sharing his fortunes. Towards the end of 1267, he crossed the Alps and reached Verona with a force of 10,000 men. Here he was obliged to wait three months for further support, and during this time more than two-thirds of his German soldiers returned home. But a reaction against the Guelphs (the Papal party) had set in; several Lombard cities and the Republic of Pisa declared in Konradin's favor, and finally the Romans, at his approach, expelled Pope Urban IV. A revolt against Charles of Anjou broke out in Naples and Sicily, and when Konradin entered Rome, in July, 1268, his success seemed almost assured. After a most enthusiastic reception by the Roman people, he continued his march southward, with a considerable force.

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