From Jesi to Palermo | On the traces of Frederick II of Swabia
The town of Jesi, birthplace of emperor Frederick II of Swabia
Jesi, home town to the revolutionary composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and now location of the Pergolesi-Spontini opera festival, is also the home town of an extraordinary personality in Medieval history: Frederick II of Swabia.
The second emperor of the Hohenstaufen dynasty Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250) also referred to as the Stupor Mundi “Wonder of the world”, one of the most important and fascinating figure in medieval history, was indeed born in the town of Jesi, on 26th of December 1194.
Jesi, birth in a square
The future emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, son of Henry VI and grandson of Frederick Barbarossa was born during the trip that the Empress Constance of Hauteville had undertaken to reach Palermo to join her husband, crowned king of Sicily on Christmas Day, 1194.
As people were skeptic about the pregnancy because of the Empress’s advanced age, she ordered to set up a canopy in the center of the town square (now Fredrick II square) and there Frederick was born, in order to dispel any doubt about the birth of the heir to the throne.
An extraordinary emperor
Frederick II’s power was immense: King of Sicily and Jerusalem, Emperor of the Romans, King of Italy and Germany, his kingdom extended from the northern sea to Sicily and, on the east, to Israel and Lebanon.
Since childhood Frederick showed a keen passion for learning. Fluent in six languages, including Arabic, he loved being surrounded by artists and writers.
The dream of a new culture mixing the Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Greek traditions
He was fascinated by the Islamic culture so during his reign the court in Palermo becomes a place of encounter and exchange between cultures. His dream was to create a new culture, mixing the Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Greek traditions.
In Palermo Frederick also helped the development of the first poetry school in a vernacular language; in Naples founded the first secular university in western history; in Salerno favoured the development of the famous medical school.
When Pope Gregory IX forced him to lead the sixth crusade, Frederick comes to an agreement with sultan Al Malik, before having to fight a single battle.
The king and the man
The emperor was also actively engaged in the reformation of the kingdom. In particular he wanted to reduce the power of local feudal lords.
He had three wives – including Isabella, sister of Henry III of England and Queen of Germany – and many mistresses. However, according to many historians, the woman he truly loved was Bianca Lancia, daughter of a simple court nobleman, the lord of Loreto, who gave him his most beloved son, Manfredi.
The passion for falconry
Frederick II wrote a famous treatise on hunting, as he was a passionate lover of falconry.
Among the many castles he built Castel Del Monte, a hunting lodge, today a UNESCO site.
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