First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Frederick, the second emperor of this name, in the Year of the Lord 1212 was chosen by the electors to succeed the aforesaid deposed Emperor Otto. He was confirmed and crowned as emperor by Pope Honorius, and reigned 33 years. This Frederick was born to Henry (Heinrico) the Sixth by his wife Constance, daughter of the king of Sicily, in a tent in the middle of a street in the city of Palermo. The queen was of an age at which no one believed she would ever bear; and, as many would scorn the fact, the women were given free access to her travail, and she bore publicly. Frederick was reared under the government of the Church and Pope Innocent. And afterwards he became so mighty as emperor of Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Jerusalem, and Swabia, that no ruler of the Roman empire has ever equaled him in power. He was experienced in war, and informed in the Latin, German, Greek, French, and Saracen languages. He was strong, kind, and magnanimous; but not without vice. He was unchaste and concerned himself only with the present. He had quarrels and wars with many popes; but erected large buildings in all the cities of Apuleia and Sicily. He had two sons by his first wife—Henry and Conrad, whom he made his associates in the sovereignty. By his second wife, the daughter of the king of Jerusalem, he had a son, Jordan; and by his concubine he had Frederick, king of Antioch, Manfred, count of Tarentum (afterwards king of Sicily), and Rentzius, whom he made king of Sardinia. After receiving the crown as German king at Mainz, Frederick established his residence in Swabia, the land of his family. When he heard of Emperor Otto’s defeats he brought back under his power the imperial city of Aix-la-Chapelle, which had been suffering a siege; and there, on the authority of Pope Innocent the Third he received the royal crown according to the usual custom. To show his gratitude to God, he permitted himself to be marked with the cross, and made a public vow to assist Christianity in Asia; and, moreover, not to appear ungrateful to the Roman Church, he gave it a good county in the kingdom of Sicily. And now, having been elected Roman emperor, he journeyed to Rome after the death of Otto, and there received the imperial crown from Pope Honorius. Although his mother Constance, up to his twenty-eighth year, reared him in paths of virtue and the observance of commendable things, after her death he abandoned his good morale; for he ignored his said vow, and indulged in gross conduct, particularly toward the church. By many kindly requests and exhortations he was urged to carry out his vow. But he refused; nor would he return to the churches the estates which had been wrested from them. For this reason he was excommunicated by the pope. And although Frederick later made a number of promises to carry out his obligation and the wishes of the pope, he was tardy and negligent in doing so. He sailed from Brindisi, but returned again at night. However, when Pope Gregory excommunicated him, Frederick sent his seneschal in advance against the sultan, and later himself arrived before the city of Ptolemais, at the same time leaving behind him emissaries to secure for him absolution from the pope. But as the pope would not grant this, Frederick returned to Italy; and there he subjected land and people to much distress and evil, assisting the antagonistic Ghibellines and Ghelfs against each other. Finally Pope Innocent condemned and deposed him, and relieved his subjects of their allegiance. Afterwards he was defeated in battle at Parma, and was finally suffocated or poisoned by his son Manfred.

Frederick II (1194-1250), Holy Roman emperor, king of Sicily and Jerusalem, was the son of Henry VI and Constance of Naples, daughter of Roger I, king of Sicily, and therefore the grandson of Frederick I. He was born in 1194, and in 1198, after his father’s death, was crowned king of Sicily at Palermo. His mother who had assumed the government during his minority, died in November of the same year, leaving Innocent III as regent of Sicily and guardian of her son. In 1208, he was declared of age and in 1209 he married Constance, daughter of Alphonso of Aragon, and widow of the king of Bohemia. In 1211, a number of influential German princes met at Nuremberg, deposed Otto IV, and invited Frederick to the throne. He accepted; and having recognized papal supremacy over Sicily, and procured the coronation of his son as king, he reached Germany in 1212, and was chosen king of Germany a second time, and crowned at Mainz. He renounced all lands claimed by the pope since his father’s death, gave up the right to interfere in Episcopal elections, and acknowledged the right of appeal to Rome. He again affirmed papal supremacy in Italy, and promised to uproot heresy in Germany. His son, Henry, was brought to Germany and chosen German king at Frankfurt in 1220, although Henry assured the new pope, Honorius III, that this step, which would involve the future union of Sicily and Germany had been taken without his consent. In 1220, Frederick was crowned emperor of Rome, renewing his promise to go on a crusade. The clergy were freed from taxation and lay jurisdiction. The ban of the empire was to follow the ban of the church, and heretics were to be severely punished.

But Frederick was occupied until 1225 in restoring order in Sicily; and in that year he married his second wife, Yolande (or Isabella), daughter of John, count of Brienne, titular king of Jerusalem. In 1227, preparations were made for the crusade, and on September 8th, Frederick sailed from Brindisi for the East. However, a pestilence which attacked his forces compelled him to return to Italy three days later, and on the 29th of the same month he was excommunicated by the new pope, Gregory IX. Observing an increase in Frederick’s strength, Gregory denounced him in a public letter, to which the emperor replied in a clever document addressed to the princes of Europe, calling attention to the absolute power of the popes. This, even at Rome, was received with so much approval that Gregory was compelled to flee to Viterbo. Frederick again set sail to Palestine, and secured possession of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the surrounding country. He entered Jerusalem in 1229, and crowned himself king. These successes he won in spite of Gregory’s hostility. While Frederick was away on this crusade, Gregory attempted to undermine him in Germany and Sicily, but failed; and when Frederick returned unexpectedly, he had no difficulty in driving back his enemies and in compelling the pope to sue for peace. By a treaty, the ban was removed, while Frederick promised to respect papal territory, and to allow freedom of election to the Sicilian clergy. In 1231, Royal officials were appointed in Sicily, the church placed under royal jurisdiction, and all gifts to the church were prohibited.

After quelling all disturbances and a revolt on the part of his son Henry, a splendid diet was held at Mainz in 1235, and a general peace (Landfrieden), which became the basis of all such peaces in the future, was sworn to. He conquered Austria, Styria, and Carinthia, and, in 1237, secured the election of his son, Conrad, as German king at Vienna. A controversy with the Lombards resulted in an alliance for which Fredrick was excommunicated by the pope in 1239. In Italy, Spoleto and Ancona were declared part of the imperial dominions, and Rome itself was threatened. Ecclesiastics bound for a council called by Gregory were captured in a sea-fight at Melovia, and the emperor was about to besiege Rome when Gregory died (1241). His successor, Celestine IV died soon after election; and after a delay of 18 months, during which Frederick twice marched against Rome and ravaged the lands of his opponents, one of his partisans, Sinibaldo Fiesco, was chosen pope as Innocent IV. Difficulties with Lombard cities failing of adjustment, the emperor again ravaged papal territory. Innocent fled to Lyons, where he summoned a general council in 1245, in which sentence of excommunication and deposition were pronounced against the emperor, and the Germans ordered to elect a new king. This was done, but neither the new king nor his successor succeeded in driving the Hohenstaufen from Germany. However, news suddenly reached Fredrick that his troops besieging Parma had been surprised by the Ghelfs during his absence on a hunting expedition. The men of Parma had made a sortie and stormed the imperial camp set up before Parma. The emperor’s forces were destroyed or scattered; the treasury and some of the most trusted ministers fell into the hands of the victors. Thaddeus of Suessa, the emperor’s justiciar was hacked to pieces by the mob.

In 1248, Enzio, the emperor’s natural son, was captured by the Bolognese. The emperor’s spirit was completely broken. He retired to southern Italy, and, after a short illness, died in 1250.

The character of Frederick is one of unusual interest. Though licentious and luxurious in his manners, he was cultured and catholic in taste. His Sicilian court was a center of intellectual activity, open to every nationality and creed. He himself knew six languages, and was acquainted with mathematics, philosophy, and natural history, also taking an interest in medicine and architecture. He founded the university of Naples, and was a liberal patron of the medical school at Solerno. He formed a menagerie of strange animals, and wrote a treatise on falconry, remarkable for its accurate observations of the habits of birds. It was in his court too that, as Dante points out, Italian poetry had its birth. His rule in Germany and Italy was a failure, due to inevitable conflicts with the papacy. His chief claim to fame is as a lawgiver. The code of laws he gave Sicily has been described as “the fullest and most adequate body of legislation promulgated by any western ruler since Charlemagne.”

A total eclipse of the sun occurred at about the ninth hour of June 6th in the year 1238, making it as dark as night. As it is said, this portended the death of Gregory the Ninth and the suppression of the churches by Frederick.

A great earthquake and hailstorm occurred in the Salvii Mountains[The location of these mountains is unknown to the editor.], and about five thousand people perished. In the same year Frisia[Frisia (also Friesland) here refers to a coastal North Sea region extending from the Netherlands to Denmark.] was entirely inundated by the sea; and about one hundred thousand persons perished.