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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Konradin having been carried to Naples


On

the 22d of August he met Charles of Anjou in battle, and was at first victorious. But his troops, having halted to plunder the enemy's camp, were suddenly attacked, and at last completely routed. Konradin and his friend, Frederick of Baden, fled to Rome, and thence to the little port of Astura, on the coast, in order to embark for Sicily; but here they were arrested by Frangipani, the Governor of the place, who had been specially favored by the Emperor Frederick II., and now sold his grandson to Charles of Anjou for a large sum of money. Konradin having been carried to Naples, a court of distinguished jurists was called, to try him for high treason. With one exception, they pronounced him guiltless of any crime; yet Charles, nevertheless, ordered him to be executed.

[Sidenote: 1268.]

On the 29th of October, 1268, the last Hohenstaufen, a youth of sixteen, and his friend Frederick, were led to the scaffold. Charles watched the scene from a window of his palace; the people, gloomy and mutinous, were overawed by his guards. Konradin advanced to the edge of the platform and threw his glove among the crowd, asking that it might be carried to some one who would avenge his death. A knight who was present took it afterwards to Peter of Aragon, who had married king Manfred's eldest daughter. Then, with the exclamation: "Oh, mother, what sorrow I have prepared for thee!" Konradin knelt and received the fatal blow. After

him Frederick of Baden and thirteen others were executed.

The tyranny and inhuman cruelty of Charles of Anjou provoked a conspiracy which, in the year 1282, gave rise to the massacre called "the Sicilian Vespers." In one night all the French officials and soldiers in Sicily were slaughtered, and Peter of Aragon, the heir of the Hohenstaufens, became king of the island. But in Germany the proud race existed no more, except in history, legend and song.

CHAPTER XIX.

GERMANY AT THE TIME OF THE INTERREGNUM.

(1256--1273.)

Change in the Character of the German Empire. --Richard of Cornwall and Alphonso of Castile purchase their election. --The Interregnum. --Effect of the Crusades. --Heresy and Persecution. --The Orders of Knighthood. --Conquests of the German Order. --Rise of the Cities. --Robber-Knights. --The Hanseatic League. --Population and Power of the Cities. --Gothic Architecture. --The Universities. --Seven Classes of the People. --The small States. --Service of the Hohenstaufens to Germany. --Epic Poetry of the Middle Ages. --Historical writers.

[Sidenote: 1256. CHANGES IN GERMANY.]

The end of the Hohenstaufen dynasty marks an important phase in the history of Germany. From this time the character of the Empire is radically changed. Although still called "Roman" in official documents, the term is henceforth an empty form, and even the word "Empire" loses much of its former significance. The Italian Republics were now practically independent, and the various dukedoms, bishoprics, principalities and countships, into which Germany was divided, were fast rendering it difficult to effect any unity of feeling or action among the people. The Empire which Charlemagne designed, which Otto the Great nearly established, and which Barbarossa might have founded, but for the fatal ambition of governing Italy, had become impossible. Germany was, in reality, a loose confederation of differently organized and governed States, which continued to make use of the form of an Empire as a convenience rather than a political necessity.


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