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Wolff, R. L.; Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume II: The later Crusades, 1189-1311
(1969)

XII: The Crusade of Frederick II,   pp. 429-462 PDF (20.5 MB)


Page 446

 446 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES 
for departure. Crusade taxes were levied, especially against the wealthy
cloisters. Monte Cassino is said to have been taxed to the amount of 450
ounces of gold. Frederick took over as mercenaries some 250 mounted troops,
formerly in the pay of the pope, from the kingdom of Sicily. Together with
the 700 knights from Ger many, the 100 in the immediate following of the
emperor, and others, the total number may have exceeded the 1 ,000 required
by the agreement of San Germano.61 By midsummer of 1227, the crusaders had
assembled in large numbers in the vicinity of Brindisi, designated by Frederick
as the port of embarkation. The Germans arrived in August in far greater
numbers than had been anticipated. The crowded conditions, the unbearable
heat, the insufficient sup plies of food and, above all, the unaccustomed
ways of life soon led to widespread disease and to many deaths, including
that of bishop Siegfried of Augsburg. Discouraged by the heat, or terrified
by the plague, many returned home, leaving numerous ships empty in the harbor.
But by the middle of August the main body of the crusaders sailed from Brindisi.62
 The emperor and his retinue, including many Sicilian knights, were delayed
while the fifty ships designed for their use were made ready. On September
8 they also sailed southward along the coast toward Otranto. Both the emperor
and the landgrave of Thuringia had been stricken by the plague before sailing
from Brindisi. Before reaching Otranto, the landgrave died, while Frederick,
whose condition had grown worse, put into port at Otranto, resolved to await
his recovery. Fearful that this might delay the sailing beyond the favorable
season, he placed twenty galleys at the disposal of Hermann of Saiza and
Gerald, the new patriarch of Jerusalem, and designated the equally new duke
Henry of Limburg as commander of the crusading army pending his own arrival.63
He immediately sent the archbishops of Reggio and Bari and Reginald of Spoleto
to the pope to explain his failure to depart for Syria. Gregory refused to
receive them and thenceforth would not listen to Frederick's side of the
story. On September 29, 1227, he ex communicated Frederick. 
 Legally, there can be no question that failure to fulfill his vow subjected
the emperor to the ban. Morally, the pope committed an injustice if, as appears
to be the case, Frederick was seriously ill and was in fact compelled to
stay behind. Gregory apparently did not inquire — or care — whether
Frederick was ill or not, and so 
61 Kestner, Kreuz. Fried., pp. 26—27. Huillard-Bréholles, III,
43. 
63 Ibid., III, 44; Richard of San Germano (MGH, SS., XIX), p. 348. 


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