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

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

Page 462

through tolerance and conciliation what the leaders of the church believed
to be possible and desirable only through the shedding of blood. For, in
all the denunciations of Frederick by the patriarch, none was more bitter
than the charge that he came not to slay the Moslem but to treat with him
as a friend. It is a flaw in Frederick's achievement that his failure to
arrive earlier, before the death of a1-Mu'azzam, when his presence in Syria
would have aided al— Kämil, deprived him of the opportunity to
regain the unconditional possession of all the former Christian lands in
Syria. It is also to his discredit that he displayed no capacity for conciliation
with the Franco—Syrian knights who might well have become his staunch
allies in the maintenance of his conquest. Failure to achieve this friendly
alliance, indeed his almost contemptuous and brutal treat ment, particularly
of the Cypriotes, contributed immeasurably to subsequent conflicts and to
the ultimate loss of Syria. 
 The greatness of Frederick's achievement was marred, above all, by the impossible
situation in which he found himself as an ex communicate. Inability to unite
the forces of Christendom, to enter upon the expedition with the full authority
of the church behind him, compelled him to accept not the settlement which
he most desired, but rather that which the sultan felt compelled to grant.
One may well inquire with Freidank: 
"O what in the world can a kaiser do, 
Since Christians and heathen, clergy too, 
Are striving against him with might and main?" 115 
 For the imperfections of the treaty the pope and the curia, far more than
Frederick II, were responsible. At the most crucial moment in the crusading
efforts of the thirteenth century, so vigorously launched by Innocent III,
so zealously supported by Honorius III, the opportunity for a lasting success
was sacrificed by Gregory IX to what, in his view, was a more desirable end,
the chastisement of the Hohenstaufen emperor. Twice during the first three
decades of the century the recovery of the Holy Land lay within easy grasp
of the Christians through conciliation. Both times the curia failed to accept
it. Pelagius had nullified the successes in Egypt, and Gregory IX, in his
unyielding hatred of Frederick II, had deprived the Christian west of the
full benefits of his achievement. 
 115 From the translation by T. L. Kington, History of Frederick II, Emperor
of the Romans (2 vols., Cambridge and London, 1862), I, from Freidank's Bescheidenheit:
"Waz mac ein kaiser schaffen 
Sit kristen, heiden unt pfaffen 
Streitent gnuoc wider in?" 

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