The Rebellion of Prince Henry Against Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II
Frederick II (1194 – 1250) is considered one of the most powerful Holy Roman emperors during the Middle Ages. He was a resolute man and was not averse to opposing his own son in case his authority was in anyway way impinged. He was always at loggerheads with the popes and that was the cause of the collapse of his dynasty after his death.
During his reign Frederick II extended his influence far and wide and though based in Sicily his empire stretched from Italy to Germany, and even encompassed Jerusalem. A look at the map will show the immense expanse of land that owed allegiance to him.
Fredrick’s while in Sicily impregnated his wife Constance of Argon and the union bore fruit with the birth of HenryVII in 1211. Constance was the first wife of Fredrick. At that time Fredrick could never have imagined that 2 decades down the line he would be embroiled in a battle with his son. He started on the right note when in 1212 he had his son crowned king of Sicily and also granted various privileges to the Holy See. After crowning his son Fredrick left for Germany.
Many years elapsed and during this period Fredrick was also involved in the Crusades for the recovery of the Holy lands. It appears that contact between Father and son was almost nonexistent for almost two decades.
When Fredrick was away his son Henry made important concessions to the German princes. These concessions were confirmed by Fredrick in 1232 at the diet of Cividale. The effect of these concession achieved through Henry strengthened the rule of the Princes in Central Europe at expense of the central authority of the Emperor himself. After these concessions Fredrick was wary of his son and relations between the two deteriorated. In 1232 he held a meeting with his son at Aquileia where Henry accepted Fredrick as the supreme sovereign, but he was able to exact some important concessions for the princes. Frederick was compelled to confirm the Statutum at Cividale soon afterwards.
Henry who had been ruling independently in Germany from 1228 now committed a fatal mistake. In 1234 he entered into an alliance with the Lombard League. This was an organization formed by many of the city states who joined together. Fredrick considered this an act of high treason and he resolved to put an end to it.
Fredrick now marched against Henry and entered Germany. The forces of Henry were no match for the army marshaled by his father and the rebellion of Henry collapsed like a pack of cards. Historians are of the opinion that the battle was a mismatch and resulted in the capture of Henry. Not much is known about Henry after that and he died in prison in Calabria in 1242. In hindsight the rebellion of the son of Fredrick was a storm in a teacup of one of the greatest emperors to strut on the European stage.