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

After Emperor Frederick had persecuted the Roman popes for some time and distressed the Roman See with many calamities, he was finally excommunicated by Pope Innocent in the Council of Lyons, deposed from his royal and imperial authority, and deprived of the two kingdoms of Sicily and Apuleia. After such deposition the sovereignty was in abeyance for 28 years up to the time of Pope Gregory the Tenth and Emperor Rudolf.

This refers to the period of the German Interregnum. The chronicler assumes that this began with the deposition of Frederick II in 1245. Frederick did not die until 1250. Although the papal party elected Henry Raspe, landgrave of Thüringia, to the German throne in 1246, he was never acknowledged as sovereign, and was defeated at Ulm by Conrad, Frederick’s son, and died in the same year. Then the pope caused William of Holland, a youth of twenty, to be proclaimed emperor. William was strongest in the north of Germany, where he allied himself with the Guelphs, or papal party; but Conrad IV, who succeeded his father, prevailed in Southern Germany. The imperial towns and most of the German nobles were on Conrad’s side. In the meantime, the hostilities between the Guelphs and Ghibellines raged in Italy, resulting in frightful atrocities. Family was arrayed against family, and city against city. Frederick crushed the revolts in Naples and Sicily; but the excesses of Ezzelino, leader of the Ghibelline nobility, neutralized Fredrick’s successes in Southern Italy. In 1247, Parma revolted and defeated the besiegers. The emperor’s son Frederick captured Florence, but his other son, Enzio, was captured and kept a prisoner by the Bolognese for twenty years.

Worn out by constant struggles with hostile popes, the emperor died in 1250. William of Holland was slain in a war with the Frislanders in 1256. Conrad IV barely escaped assassination instigated by the bishop of Regensburg. Conrad raised an army, and, in 1251, marched into Italy. With the assistance of his half-brother, Manfred, he overran Apuleia and took Capua and Naples. Conrad IV died in 1254, leaving his son Conradin.

When Innocent IV heard of the death of Frederick II, he returned to Rome in triumph, declared Naples and Sicily lapsed fiefs, and excommunicated Conrad IV and Manfred who were struggling for possession of their paternal inheritance. Conrad died soon afterwards, as stated, but Manfred successfully continued the struggle, forcing the papal troops to retreat to papal territory. This so distressed Innocent that it hastened his death. But his successor, Alexander IV, pursued the same policy toward the Hohenstaufen dynasty. He conferred the kingdom as papal fief on the tyrannical Duke Charles of Anjou. And although Manfred continued to defend his paternal inheritance, he was defeated by Charles at Beneventum in 1266, breaking the power of the Ghibellines who were now punished with death, imprisonment and exile, and their possessions divided among the French and Guelphic soldiers.

But the Ghibellines rallied about young Conradin, who with his youthful friend, Frederick of Baden, and a few faithful adherents continued the struggle. He put the pope to flight and entered the kingdom of Naples. But his hasty advance caused him to be ambushed and defeated by Charles of Anjou. Conradin was betrayed, and he and his friend Frederick of Baden were beheaded at Naples in 1268. The remaining Hohenstaufen princes also suffered cruel fates. Enzio died in prison. Manfred was defeated and killed near Benevento in 1266, and his sons ended their lives in prison.

The death of Conrad IV left William of Holland sole king of Germany. He was considered of little importance by either side, and, when slain in 1256, the German princes were left free to choose a new king. The chief candidates were two foreign princes – Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III of England, and Alphonso the Wise, king of Castile – both of whom bribed the electors. The party headed by the archbishop of Cologne chose Richard; that led by the archbishop of Treves elected Alphonso. Although Richard was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle, he visited the country only three times afterwards; while Alphonso never entered it at all.

This period, when Germany was virtually without a sovereign, was called the Interregnum. For Germany, the Interregnum began with the death of William of Holland in 1256. Violence and lawlessness prevailed, and the strong alone could obtain justice. Nobles and knights degenerated into marauders and robbers. The princes and bishops occupied themselves in enlarging their territories and possessing themselves of privileges, while knights and vassals waylaid and plundered the defenseless. They dragged travelers into their dungeons, holding them for ransom, and, behind their strong walls, defied the impotent laws and tribunals. Only within the strong walls of the cities did industry venture to function at all.

This condition was ended by the death of Richard of Cornwall in 1271. Until that time, the pope held himself aloof from German affairs, since the vacancy of the imperial throne increased his own importance and prevented the rise of a rival.

But as the papal revenues could not be collected without the aid of imperial authority, Gregory X at last notified the electors of Germany that if they would not elect a new king, he would appoint one. And so, in 1273, the Interregnum ended by the election of Count Rudolf of Hapsburg, as king of Germany.

Henry (Heinricus), the seventh of this name, was declared Roman emperor. At this time German affairs were in a state of great unrest and dissension. After the excommunication and deposition of Frederick, the electors of the empire, at the command of the pope, held an election and chose Henry, landgrave of Thüringia, as Roman emperor. He was opposed by Conrad, said Frederick’s son, whom Frederick had previously made king. After the crusade had been preached by papal order against this Conrad and the adherents of Emperor Frederick, the landgrave of Thüringia won many supporters and favorites; but before long he died at Eisenach without issue.[Henry Raspe was the second surviving son of Hermann I, landgrave of Thüringia. When his brother, the landgrave Louis IV died in Italy in 1227, Henry seized the landgraviate and expelled his brother’s widow, Elizabeth of Hungary, and her son, Herman. In 1236, Henry accompanied the emperor, Frederick II, on a campaign against the duke of Austria and took part in the election of his son, Conrad, as German king at Vienna in 1237. But he did not appear at the diet of Verona in 1238, possibly because he disliked the betrothal of his nephew, Hermann, to the emperor’s daughter, Margaret. At all events, when the projected marriage had been broken off, he supported the emperor in 1239 in opposition to a plan formed by various princes to elect an anti-king. In 1241 Henry’s loyalty again wavered, and he was himself mentioned as a possible candidate. Frederick’s visit to Germany in 1242 prevented this step for a time; but in 1246 Pope Innocent IV requested the German princes to choose Henry as Frederick’s successor. He was elected and became known as the Pfaffen-König, or parson’s king. Collecting an army, he defeated Conrad near Frankfurt, held a diet at Nuremberg, and undertook the siege of Ulm. He died at the Wartburg in 1247, leaving the male line of his family extinct.]

William (Guilhelmus), count of Holland, after the death of the landgrave of Thüringia, was elected Roman emperor by the electors, in opposition to the emperor Frederick; but not long afterwards he was slain by the Frislanders. And thus, neither he nor the aforesaid Henry attained to imperial coronation.[William (1227-1256), king of the Romans and count of Holland, was the son of Count Floris IV and his wife, Matilda, daughter of Henry, duke of Brabant. He was about six years of age at his father’s death, but his long minority, under the guardianship of his two paternal uncles, was peaceful. In 1247, William allowed Pope Innocent to proclaim him king of the Romans in opposition to the excommunicated Frederick II, and he was crowned in 1248. He thus became recognized head of the Guelph party; but even after Frederick’s death he had gained only a few adherents. He was killed in 1256.]

The Origin of the Guelphs and Ghibellines

The very disastrous names of the Guelphs and Ghibellines were contrived at Pisa at this time, to the detriment of all Italy, by two German brothers, while the pope and Emperor Frederick were at enmity; for among the people of all Italy arose such madness and unreason that father raged against son, son against father, and brother against brother. This discord was caused by Emperor Frederick. Names were given to the partisans by him or his Germans. Those who adhered to the pope or the churches were called Guelphs; those who favored the emperor, Ghibellines. And as Ptolemy, a native of the city of Lucca, states, these unhallowed names were first heard in the city of Pistoria; before long these names poisoned and blackened all Italy (with the exception of Venice), and this has continued for about one hundred fifty years since then, with such madness, rage, and perniciousness that the Italians during this period committed more evil, wantonness and injury among themselves than they had suffered at the hands of foreign infidels; for in their fury the cities, the country, and the people suffered through spilling of blood and extermination. This was true, not alone of people in the same vicinity, but also of those far removed from one another; for wherever they met, they injured each other. Each party, through hatred of the other, had its own means of identification by colors, distinctive dress, course of conduct, manual signs, voice, and personal carriage.[See Guelphs and Ghibellines, Folio CCI recto and note, above.]

Conrad was the son of Frederick and Yolanda (Iole), daughter of King John (Johannis) of Jerusalem; and upon him descended the paternal estate of his father; for Manfred, Frederick’s natural son, waived the inheritance. Conrad also inherited Swabia, but spent little time there. Afterwards he went to Verona, and led a large army through its gates into the kingdom of Apuleia. As the historians state, Conrad was very much like his father in covetousness and evil. Later, in a grim and hostile attitude, he appeared before Naples and breached the walls in many places. He overturned the walls of the city of Capua, and burned the noble city of Aquina. Part of the time he lived in Germany, but the remainder of his life he spent in the recovery of Sicily. He finally died of poison, which it was suspected had been administered to him in an enema by the physicians at the instigation of his brother Manfred. Before his death he set up a regency for his son Conradin in the kingdom of Sicily in order to permit him to study the arts.[Conrad IV, German king, son of Emperor Frederick II and Yolanda (Isabella) of Brienne, was born in Apuleia in 1228. In 1235 he was made duke of Swabia, and in 1237 was chosen king of the Romans, or German king, at Vienna, an election that was subsequently confirmed by the diet at Spires. Although defeated at Frankfurt in August 1246 by the anti-king, Henry Raspe, he obtained help from the towns and from his father-in-law, Otto II, duke of Bavaria, and drove Henry Raspe to Thüringia. He was carrying on the struggle against Raspe’s successor when the emperor died in 1250, and, a few days later, Conrad narrowly escaped assassination. Conrad raised an army, marched to Italy, and arrived at Verona in 1251. He sailed from Pola to Siponto, and with the help of his half-brother Manfred, overran Apuleia and took Capua and Naples. He died of a fever at Lavello, not far from Melfi.]