“He who defends everything defends nothing.”
Frederick II (1194-1250), Holy Roman Emperor and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, even to Jerusalem, were enormous, but his enemies, especially the popes, prevailed, and his dynasty collapsed soon after his death. Historians have searched for superlatives to describe him, as in the case of Professor Donald Detwiler, who wrote: "A man of extraordinary culture, energy, and ability – called by a contemporary chronicler stupor mundi (wonder of the world), by Nietzsche the first European, and by many historians the first modern ruler – Frederick established in Sicily and southern Italy something very much like a modern, centrally governed kingdom with an efficient bureaucracy.“
Viewing himself as a direct successor to the Roman Emperors of Antiquity, he was Emperor of the Romans from his papal coronation in 1220 until his death; he was also a claimant to the title of King of the Romans from 1212 and unopposed holder of that monarchy from 1215. As such, he was King of Germany, Italy, and Burgundy. At the age of 3, he was crowned King of Sicily as co-ruler with his mother. His other title was King of Jerusalem by virtue of marriage and his connection with the Sixth Crusade. He was frequently at war with the Papacy, hemmed in between Frederick’s lands in northern Italy and his Kingdom of Sicily to the south, and thus was excommunicated 4 times and often vilified in pro-papal chronicles of the time and since. Pope Gregory IX went so far as to call him the Antichrist. Speaking 6 languages (Latin, Sicilian Italian, German, French, Greek, Arabic), Frederick was an avid patron of science and the arts. After his death, his line quickly died out and the House of Hohenstaufen came to an end.