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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Clash of Cultures: Frederich Hohenstaufen and the Barons of Outremer


When the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II married the heiress of Jerusalem in November 1225, Christendom expected that he, the most powerful Christian monarch, would restore Jerusalem to its former glory. Instead, Frederick II spent less than eight months in the Holy Land and departed draped in the offal and intestines pelted at him by his furious subjects. 

Furthermore, he never returned, although he sent lieutenants to fight for him in a civil war that lasted two decades. That struggle ended in a complete and utter defeat for the Imperialist faction. Although Frederick’s son and grandson were nominally “kings” of Jerusalem, they were powerless and absent throughout their “reigns.” 

The Hohenstaufens failed so miserably in the crusader states because of a fundamental clash of ideology and culture that was only plastered over with legal arguments. Today Dr. Schrader analyzes the ideological conflict underlying that confrontation.



Biographers of Frederick II are understandably apt to ignore the Hohenstaufen’s utter and complete humiliation in the Holy Land. His life was so packed with dramatic events, colorful characters, and significant victories that there hardly seems any room or reason to discuss, much less analyze, his poor showing in the crusader kingdoms. Frederick’s admirers prefer to focus on the bloodless return of Jerusalem to Christian control, and to dismiss his critics as “blood-thirsty” and “bigoted.”[i]



Even a comparatively balanced observer such as David Abulafia,[ii] who concedes that the baronial opposition was “ideological,” deals with the consequences of Frederick’s policies in the Kingdom of Jerusalem in just one page of his 440-page biography.  Abulafia notes that “the emperor began by assuming that it would be sufficient to proclaim his rights as he interpreted them.” (Emphasis added by H.P. Schrader) Yet the fact that the Emperor’s “rights” could legitimately be interpreted otherwise is glossed over. Abulafia then explains how hard the Emperor found it to “envisage the degree to which the Latin states of the East, despite the bitter threat from the Islamic world, were divided by family rivalries and constitutional conflicts,”[iii] but fails to acknowledge that the Emperor had created both those rivalries and the constitutional crisis in Jerusalem. Finally, he clearly sympathizes with his subject when he notes that Frederick was “amazed by the lack of response to what he clearly saw as his own tremendous achievement.”[iv] Abulafia too cannot comprehend why the residents of Outremer saw nothing valuable in the Emperor thumbing his nose at the pope and then leaving them to face the consequences. According to Abulafia, Frederick II “returned to Italy more than ever conscious of his imperial rights,” ― and that was exactly the problem.



Frederick II viewed the Kingdom of Jerusalem as just one of his many possessions without recognizing it as an independent kingdom with its own traditions, customs, and laws. He believed he could dispose of it as he liked, rule it as he liked, and that the inhabitants held their lands and titles not by heredity right or royal charter but simply at his personal whim. In short, he treated fiefs as iqtas, thereby violating the fundamental principles of feudalism that recognized that not even a serf could be expelled from his land without due process and just cause. He also, and even more significantly, rejected the feudal principle of ruling with the advice and consent of the barons of the realm.



These attitudes were the root cause of the conflict between Frederick and the baronial faction in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Emperor’s absolutist view of monarchy clashed with the barons’ insistence on constitutional government based on the laws and customs of the kingdom. Frederick viewed himself as Emperor and King by the Grace of God. He recognized no fetters on his rights to rule ― neither laws nor institutions nor counsels. 

The Kingdom of Jerusalem, on the other hand, was a feudal state par excellance, frequently held up by scholars as the "ideal" feudal kingdom. (See for example John La Monte's work Feudal Monarchy in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1100 to 1291, or John Riley Smith's The Feudal Nobility and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1174 - 1277.) The nobility of Outremer in the age of Frederick II had developed highly sophisticated constitutional views, and based on the history of Jerusalem saw kings as no more than the “first among equals.” Furthermore, they upheld the concept that government was a contract between the king and his subjects, requiring the consent of the ruled in the form of the High Court.


Historians have rightly pointed out that, as the struggle between the Hohenstaufen and the barons dragged on, the baronial faction became ever more inventive in finding “laws” and customs that undermined Hohenstaufen rule. This ignores the fact that the Emperor had by then long-since squandered all credibility by repeatedly breaking his word and behaving like a despot. The baronial opposition was indeed desperately trying to keep a proven tyrant from gaining greater control of the kingdom, and they were indeed very creative in finding (or inventing) legal pretexts for achieving that aim. That does not negate the fundamental belief in the rule-of-law as opposed to the rule-by-imperial whim that lay at the core of the baronial opposition to Frederick.



Frederick proved his contempt for the laws and constitution of Jerusalem within the first four years of his reign by the following actions: 1) refusing to recognize that his title to Jerusalem derived through his wife rather than being a divine right; 2) by demanding the surrender of Beirut and nearly a dozen other lordships without due process; and 3) by ignoring the High Court of Jerusalem and its functions ― which included approving treaties.



Of these actions, the second has received the most attention because Frederick’s attempt to disseize the Lord of Beirut without due process was the spark that ignited the civil war. Because the Lord of Beirut was a highly respected, powerful and learned nobleman, the Emperor’s arrogant, arbitrary and unconstitutional attempt to disseize Beirut met with widespread outrage and finally armed opposition.  Beirut was able to rally a majority of the kingdom ― and not just the nobility, but the Genoese, the Templars and the commons of Acre ― to his cause. After each bitter defeat when Frederick tried to find a means of placating the opposition, he refused to budge on the principle of his right to arbitrarily disseize lords without due process.  Like a spoiled brat having a temper tantrum, he kicked, screamed, lied and cheated, but he would not take his case against the Lord of Beirut to court. To the end, he insisted that Beirut abdicate his lordship without due process. To the end, Beirut refused.



Unfortunately, because the clash between Beirut and the Emperor is the focus of a lively, colorful and detailed contemporary account by the jurist and philosopher Philip de Novare, most historians (if they bother to look at the conflict at all) reduce the baronial resistance to a struggle over land and titles. This greatly oversimplifies the concerns of the opposition and overlooks the other two constitutional principles that Frederick II violated blatantly.


The issue of whence he derived his right to rule in Jerusalem actually surfaced first. The very day after his wedding to Queen Yolanda of Jerusalem, Frederick demanded that the lords of Jerusalem do homage to him as king. This was in direct violation of the marriage agreement he had negotiated with his wife’s father, John de Brienne. John took the position that because he had been crowned and anointed, he remained king until his death, but Frederick dismissed this argument because John had only held the crown by right of his wife (the late Marie de Montferrat) and his daughter Yolanda, so long as the latter was a minor. Just three years later, however, at the death of his own wife, Frederick abruptly ― and without a trace of shame or embarrassment ― adopted Brienne’s position. He refused to recognize his son by Yolanda as King of Jerusalem and continued to call himself by that title until the day he died.



Indeed, on his deathbed in December 1250, Frederick II bequeathed Italy, Germany, and Sicily to his son Conrad, his son by Yolanda, but suggested that Conrad give the Kingdom of Jerusalem to his half-brother Henry, the son of his third wife, Isabella of England. This proves that Frederick utterly failed to recognize or accept that the crown of Jerusalem was not his to give away. It had derived from his wife, and could only pass to her heirs ― not to whomsoever he pleased. This attempt to give Jerusalem away to someone with no right to it is like a final insult to the bride he neglected and possibly abused. It also demonstrates that to his last breath he remained either ignorant of or indifferent to the constitution of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.


Since the First Crusade, the Kings of Jerusalem had been elected.  The election of the next monarch was one of the most important prerogatives of the High Court. In short, by trying to dispose over the kingdom without consulting the High Court, Frederick was breaking the constitution. Yet this is hardly a surprise since he had ignored the High Court when trying to disseize Beirut  ― and in signing the truce with al-Kamil.



In the general enthusiasm for Frederick bloodless crusade and the truce that followed it, historians and novelists overlook the fact that the constitution of Jerusalem gave to the High Court the right to make treaties. Just like the Senate in the United States, the executive (in this case the King) might negotiate and sign treaties, but the consent and approval of the High Court was required.  Frederick II Hohenstaufen blissfully ignored this constitutional nicety. He negotiated in secret and presented the barons of Jerusalem with a fait accompli. This, as much as the seriously flawed terms of the treaty, outraged the local nobility. Modern writers like Boulle take the attitude that no one should let something as insignificant as the law of the land get in the way of the “genius,” who could “retake” Jerusalem without any loss of life. Their contempt for the rule of law ought to give us pause, and they also conveniently forget the 40,000 Christians slaughtered in Jerusalem because they had no defenses and no arms in 1244.
 



Arguably, Frederick’s contempt for the High Court was the single most important factor that doomed his rule in Outremer. He flaunted the High Court by not seeking its advice on who should rule for his infant son. He flaunted it again by not bringing his charges against Beirut before it. He flaunted it by not obtaining the advice and consent of the High Court for his treaty with al-Kamil. He would continue to ignore the High Court to his very death. Yet the High Court was composed not of families or factions, but rather the entire knightly class of Jerusalem. That some men nevertheless sided with the Hohenstaufen had more to do with toadyism than principle since in supporting the Imperial faction they were acting against their constitutional interests purely for personal gain.



Ultimately, it was because he was attacking the collective rights of the ruling class that Frederick failed so miserably in Outremer. As he lay dying, he was engaging in self-deception to think he could bequeath Jerusalem to anyone. He had never controlled it, and he had already lost the loyalty of his subjects just four years into his 25-year-reign ― as they articulated by pelting him with offal.


I couldn't find a picture of a king wearing offal, so I chose this image that also suggests contempt for a king.


The consequences of Frederick II's policies in the crusader states are the subject of Dr. Schrader's next series of novels starting with:

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[i] An excellent example of this kind of polemics is Pierre Boulle’s L’etrange Croisade de l’Empereur Frédéric II. Flammarion, 1968.
[ii] Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor. Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 193
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid, pp.193-194.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Frederick II and Islam

Frederick II Hohenstaufen has attracted many modern admirers, in large part because he is perceived as an example of religious tolerance, allegedly far ahead of his time. The fact that he was twice excommunicated by the Pope made him the darling of Reformation and Enlightenment historians, who equated the papacy with everything backward and corrupt. Twentieth Century atheists delight in the fact that Frederick allegedly claimed the Moses, Jesus and Mohammed were all shysters, who made fools of their followers.[i]  The fact that the Sicily he ruled still had large Jewish and Muslim populations, some of whom found employment at his court, qualified him in the eyes of more recent commentators as an early example of “multi-culturalism.” Some admirers go so far as to suggest that Frederick converted to Islam.  Today I look more closely at Frederick and his relationship with Islam.

                                                                                                    





Heiko Suhr in a short paper on this topic published in 1968[ii] identified four factors that contributed to Frederick’s image as pro-Islamic: 1) his childhood in a Palermo allegedly dominated by Muslims, 2) the city of Lucera in Southern Italy populated by Sicilian Muslims who enjoyed complete religious freedom, 3) his culturally and religiously diverse court and his amicable correspondence with Muslim scholars and scientists, and finally 4) his diplomatic relations with al-Kamil culminating in the return of Jerusalem to nominal Christian control without bloodshed.



Unfortunately, for Frederick’s admirers, the legend that he grew up wandering freely through the streets of Palermo, learning fluent Arabic by chatting with the people of the markets and streets, has been exposed as fiction. Not only did Frederick enjoy (or suffer, depending on your perspective) a conventional education for a future king at the hands of predominantly clerical tutors, but Palermo in the decades of Frederick’s youth was no longer predominantly Muslim. In fact, the Muslim population of Sicily had already been pushed into the mountainous interior (where they were to offer armed resistance to Frederick on more than one occasion). The more educated Arab elites had withdrawn even further -- to Muslim-held Spain or North Africa rather than submit to Christians subjugation.



The city of Lucera, established in 1246, did indeed provoke the outrage of the Pope because it was full of mosques and the entirely Muslim population lived openly according to their faith.  Even more problematic for the Pope, as Muslims, they couldn’t have cared less about being excommunicated or put under interdict.  In short, the Pope had no weapons with which to threaten or cow them, and they were utterly loyal to Frederick. The fact that Lucera sat in a vital geo-strategic position that blocked the access of papal forces to Foggia and Trani undoubtedly made him livid.  


Yet, it is important to remember that the creation of Lucera followed the expulsion of the entire Muslim population from Sicily proper.  This expulsion was Frederick’s response to a renewed Muslim revolt. Historians estimate that between 15,000 and 60,000 Muslims were forced to leave their homes and re-settle in Lucera.  In short, Frederick was not exhibiting humanitarian tolerance for his Muslim subjects, but rather pursuing the strategic goal of removing rebellious subjects from the heartland of his kingdom. To his credit, he did not massacre them, but with what was truly ingenious foresight recognized that he could use them in his struggle with the pope because they were his only subjects that could not be bullied by papal threats.



Turning to Frederick’s famed erudition which included correspondence with a wide range of scholars from Spain to Syria, there is little question that his fascination with scientific, philosophical, and intellectual problems was exceptional. Frederick II conducted experiments (apparently without the slightest concern for the welfare of the participants), and he took part in public, mathematical debates. This is impressive, but by no means as exceptional as Frederick’s admirers suggest. The education of princes was very rigorous and included languages, theology (not just dogma), mathematics and natural sciences. Frederick’s contemporary Louis IX of France was also highly educated, for example, including a sound grounding in ancient Greek and Roman texts.



The fact that Frederick II corresponded with Arab scholars and he spoke Arabic is also far less exceptional that historians (particularly German historians) make it appear. The biographies of Frederick II which I have read (an admittedly limited sample) reveal an astonishing ignorance of the history and society of the crusader states. The fact that most knights and nobles in Outremer also spoke Arabic, that they too corresponded with Saracen leaders, and that some could translate Arab poetry into French has escaped the notice of the admirers of Frederick. Frederick was not the first or only Western monarch to recognize the humanity and intellectual qualities of individual Muslim leaders. Richard the Lionheart developed a degree of rapport with al-Adil before Frederick II was even born. The bottom line is that a command of Arabic had nothing to do with an admiration for Islam.



Far more indicative of a cultural attraction to Islam than correspondence with Arab intellectuals is the fact that Frederick maintained a harem full of sex-slaves.  This was in clear violation of Church law, and not comparable to a succession of mistresses as, say, Henry II of England had. 


Frederick’s campaign to the Holy Land likewise presents hints of a more tolerant attitude toward Islam than was common among the Hohenstaufen’s contemporaries.  This has nothing to do with the fact that Frederick preferred negotiations to bloodshed. Any and every general prefers to win without risking battle. Richard the Lionheart, the ultimate soldier’s soldier so often portrayed as a mindless killing machine, likewise sought to negotiate with Saladin almost from the moment he set foot in the Holy Land. (See Diplomacy of the Third Crusade Part I and Part II.)



Far more damning are the terms of the treaty Frederick concluded.  By accepting a “demilitarized” Jerusalem surrounded by Muslim-controlled territory, he revealed that he cared only about a temporary victory ― the medieval equivalent of a “photo op” in the shape of him wearing his crown in the Holy Sepulcher. The truce (it was never a treaty because it had limited duration of ten years, five months and forty days) served not the interests of Christendom, but rather the Emperors desire to thumb his nose at the Pope. The truce was more about show than substance. The fact that the truce prohibited Christians from setting foot on the Temple Mount effectively added insult to injury, and it is not surprising that the Patriarch of Jerusalem characterized the terms of the Treaty as “unchristian.” 


Added to this is an incident recorded in Arab sources of Frederick rebuking the Qadi of Nablus for silencing the muezzins during his short visit to Jerusalem. According to al-Gauzi, Frederick went so far as to claim that his “chief aim in passing the night in Jerusalem was to hear the call to prayer given by the muezzins, and their cries of praise to God in the night.”[iii]



Despite such apparently pro-Islamic words (assuming they are correct at all), the rest of Frederick’s life does not rightly square with a man who had a particular affinity with Islam. Within a few months, he had sailed away and returned to Sicily ― where he proceeded, as noted earlier, to expel every last single Muslim from the island.



Frederick II was not pro-Islam, rather he appears to have been profoundly cynical about religion. The legend about him saying Moses, Jesus and Mohammed hoodwinked the gullible, while not a genuine quote, may nevertheless capture his skepticism about faith generally.  The Arab chroniclers certainly saw him as a materialist. A man who played with religion and theology, rather than respecting God. Devout themselves, they had more admiration for genuine Christians (like St. Louis) than for Frederick Hohenstaufen.



While it is impossible to know a man’s soul ― particularly after nearly 1,000 years ― it is fair to say that Frederick consistently put “raison d’état” ― not to say self-interest ― before religious considerations. His sexual gratification was more important than respecting church law. Returning to Sicily with the appearance of regaining Jerusalem, was more important than securing a sustainable solution for the Holy City. Retaining his temporal power was more important than finding a compromise with the Pope. Having soldiers impervious to papal influence was worth allowing Muslims to publicly exercise their religion (under the nose of the Pope, so to speak.) And so on. While this may arouse admiration in many, it is hardly something particularly modern. Nor, in my opinion, does it qualify Frederick to be viewed as particularly “enlightened,” “tolerant” or “modern.”



[i] Boulle, Pierre. L’etrange Croisade de l’Empereur Frédéric II. Flammarion, 1968.
[ii] Suhr, Heiko. Friedrich II von Hohenstaufen: Seine politischen and kulturellen Verbindungen zum Islam. GRIN Verlag, 2008.
[iii] Abulafia, David. Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor. Oxford University Press, 1988, p.185.


Frederick II is an important character in "Rebels against Tyranny" and his curious "crusade" an important part of the plot of this novel, the first in a new series set in the crusader states.

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Dr. Helena P. Schrader holds a PhD in History.
She is the Chief Editor of the Real Crusades History Blog.
She is an award-winning novelist and author of numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. Her three-part biography of Balian d'Ibelin won a total of 14 literary accolades. Her most recent release is a novel about the founding of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus. You can find out more at: http://crusaderkingdoms.com

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Review of "Rebels against Tyranny" by

"...a great central figure—
a bit like William Shakespeare’s portrayal of the young Prince Hal..."

Kirkus Review of  "Rebels against Tyranny"

In Schrader’s (The Last Crusader Kingdom, 2017, etc.) historical novel, the Ibelin family fights to protect their honor and their position against a tyrannical Holy Emperor in 13th-century Cyprus and the Middle East.
The handsome, recently knighted Sir Balian II of the House of Ibelin can’t please his father, John d’Ibelin, Lord of Beirut, who considers his eldest son and heir to be impulsive and decadent; moreover, his reputation as a lady’s man seems inescapable. His uncle, Philip, is baillie of Cyprus on behalf of the 7-year-old King Henry I, and he strives to keep the peace in the land. When Amaury Barlais, a bitter knight, nearly kills someone after accusing him of cheating in a joust, he becomes the Ibelin family’s enemy for life. In Sicily, Frederick II Hohenstaufen, the Holy Roman Emperor, weds the young Yolanda, queen of Jerusalem, for a political alliance, but when he doesn’t keep his word regarding royal succession, it sets off a terrible chain of events. The emperor also wants to win back the Holy Land from the Saracens, and he calls on his subjects to help him. This sprawling work is full of excitement, with plenty of jousts, sieges, and daring escapes. The story features a huge cast of characters, and it takes readers on adventures through Cyprus, Acre, Jaffa, and other locales; however, there are maps, family trees, and character descriptions at the beginning that will help wayward readers. The well-meaning but flawed Sir Balian is a great central figure—a bit like William Shakespeare’s portrayal of the young Prince Hal, without being too clever for his (and his people’s) own good. The leading female characters, meanwhile, aren’t blushing maidens waiting to be rescued but rather forceful actors in their own rights.
An exciting royal adventure with a large cast.
KIRKUS REVIEW



Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Curious Course of the So-Called Sixth Crusade

After delaying for more than a decade, Frederick finally embarked on his crusade only after he had been excommunicated. Thus, although the campaign in the Holy Land led by Frederick II Hohenstaufen is usually included in the list of numbered crusades, it was not sanctioned by the Pope and was not technically a crusade at all. Furthermore, despite modern historians’ adulation for a "victory" allegedly obtained by diplomacy rather than violence, in reality Frederick II's victory was pyrrhic at best and at worst little more than a hoax. 
Below Dr. Schrader provides a short analysis of the crusade and its impact.

Despite being excommunicate, in June 1228 Friedrich II set sail for the Holy Land, arriving at Limassol on Cyprus on July 21. There, after some difficulties establishing his authority, (the subject of separate entries), he continued to Tyre, arriving September 3.   

His arrival was by no means as welcome as he had expected. On the one hand, he had made powerful enemies already by asserting his absolute rights as monarch (although he was only regent).  His claims to absolute authority were in sharp violation of the laws and customs of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, in which the High Court exercised powers over appointments, fiefs and more. (See The High Court).  On the other hand, and more significantly, al-Mu’azzam was dead. Al-Kamil no longer needed the assistance of any Christian ruler. To top it all off, Friedrich had hardly arrived in the Holy Land before he learned that the pope had raised an army (commanded by his late wife’s father  among others), and was preparing to invade the Kingdom of Sicily with the declared intent of deposing him.

Like Richard the Lionheart before him, Friedrich needed to return home as rapidly as possible. Not being the strategist or commander Richard had been, Friedrich II put his faith in negotiations. On February 18, 1229 after five months of secret negotiations a treaty was signed with al-Kamil.  

Modern historians have called Friedrich’s preference for diplomacy over warfare “enlightened.” They attribute it to his great subtlety or even genius. The modern German historian Heiko Suhr, for example, claims in his essay “Friedrich II von Hohenstaufen: Seine politischen and kulturellen Verbindungen zu Islam” (Friedrich II von Hohenstaufen: His Political and Cultural Ties to Islam, GRIN Verlag, 2008, p. 17), that the treaty demonstrated his “willingness to compromise and his diplomatic skills.” Historian David Abulafia, in his biography of Friedrich II, claims that Friedrich “performed magnificently.” (Friedrich II: A Medieval Emperor, Oxford University Press, 1988, p.184)  Friedrich’s success if usually contrasted to the failures of all other crusades (except the First). A popular website, for example, claims Friedrich “accomplished what four previous crusades failed to do: recover the Holy Land. Even though he was excommunicated, he accomplished more than the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth crusades combined.” (Medieval Times and Castles)

The fact that Friedrich failed to win contemporary praise ― indeed was pelted with offal by the common people of Acre when he went to board his ship to depart and was widely criticized by princes of the church and the local barons ― is put down to the “bigotry” of the church and “blood-thirsty” character of his contemporaries. Friedrich, it is argued, was simply “ahead of his time.”  Or, as the German historian Jacob Burckhardt Recht claims: “a modern man.” In short, Friedrich was an enlightened man of peace and his unpopularity in the Holy Land (and elsewhere) was entirely attributable to the backward, unenlightened, implicitly barbaric nature of his contemporaries. 

 

There is a problem with this viewpoint (aside from the obvious arrogance of those “modern” people who look down on their medieval predecessors): Friedrich II did NOT secure Jerusalem, and he did NOT accomplish more than the Third or Fourth Crusades (both of which saw territorial expansion by the crusaders). His diplomatic skills appear meager when contrasted with those of Richard the Lionheart.   

All that Friedrich II secured with his treaty was Christian access to some of Jerusalem and a couple other cities, such as Bethlehem, for a limited period of time. The treaty explicitly prohibited Christians from setting foot on the Temple Mount, and prohibited the Franks from building walls around Jerusalem. The truce Friedrich signed ensured that the Franks could not defend Jerusalem or its environs. The treaty ensured Muslim control over all the strategic castles such as Kerak and Montreal. As Muslim sources stress, all the truce did was give the Christians “some churches and ruins” for a decade (Ibn Wasil.) Indeed, the Arab sources stress that al-Kamil quite openly bragged that “when he had achieved his aim and had the situation in hand he could purify Jerusalem of the Franks and chase them out.” (See Arab Historians of the Crusades, translation by Francesco Gabrieli, University of California Press, 1957, p. 271) 

In short, Friedrich II’s “crusade” did NOT restore Jerusalem to Christian control.  It gave Christians a precarious access to Jerusalem for just over ten years. It is no wonder that contemporaries, concerned about Christian control of Jerusalem (not mere access) were bitterly disappointed. Furthermore, the residents of Outremer, the people living surrounded by the Saracen threat, recognized the truce as worthless to their security.  It is easy to sympathize with those who threw offal at the Emperor who -- despite all his wealth, power and troops -- left them with nothing substantial or material.

The truce reveals the degree to which Friedrich’s entire “crusade” was about his power struggle with the Pope rather than Jerusalem or the Holy Land. While leaving the residents of Outremer to deal with the consequences of his worthless truce, he made a great show of wearing the Imperial crown in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This was clearly a way of thumbing his nose at the Pope. It was his way of demonstrating his belief that he was God’s representative on earth and did not need papal approval. Having had his day in Jerusalem (and ostentatiously telling the Muslims they should continue their call to prayers even in his presence), he departed the Holy Land never to return.

Neither his son nor his grandson, despite being titular kings of Jerusalem ever set foot in the kingdom. It was left to other kings, such as Louis IX, to try to reclaim Christian control of the Holy City and secure the Holy Land.

The Sixth Crusade is the backdrop and subject of:


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Dr. Helena P. Schrader holds a PhD in History.

She is the Chief Editor of the Real Crusades History Blog

She is an award-winning novelist and author of numerous books both fiction and non-fiction. Her three-part biography of Balian d'Ibelin won a total of 14 literary accolades. Her most recent release is a novel about the founding of the crusader Kingdom of Cyprus. You can find out more at: http://crusaderkingdoms.com