rem – Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen

19. September 2010
bis 20. Februar 2011

Ausstellung der Länder
und Hessen

Die Staufer und Italien

Who was actually ...? Questions and answers about

Conradin (1254–1268)

Who was Conradin actually and how did he come to power?

Purely theoretically, Conradin was already a powerful individual in his youth. In 1254, exactly two years after his birth, the last legitimate male heir of the House of Hohenstaufen was elevated to Duke of Swabia. He had inherited the title of King of Jerusalem from his father Conrad IV and was regarded as the King of Sicily. His Italian inheritance was administered by his uncle Manfred who, however, had himself crowned King of Sicily in 1258.

A minor, Conradin had no chance to reestablish former Hohenstaufen power north of the Alps. The English Earl Richard of Cornwall was elected king there in 1257.

Were there other “Italian Moments” than his theoretical sovereignty over the Kingdom of Sicily?

Yes, after his uncle Manfred had fallen against Charles of Anjou in the Battle of Benevento in 1266, the then fifteen year old Conradin attempted to retake his hereditary kingdom of Sicily starting in September of 1267.

His army set out from Augsburg and reached Pavia and Pisa by way of Verona. The pope consequently excommunicated him, stripped him of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and appointed Charles of Anjou as the administrator of Tuscany.

What highlights of his reign do we still remember today?

A search for truly major highlights is futile. Nonetheless, although his situation was not particularly promising, Conradin managed one success. He was able to conclude an agreement with the Roman Senator Henry of Castile, which enabled him to enter Rome on July 24, 1268 where he prepared for the advance on Lucera.

How did his era end?

Conradin’s end was even more tragic than that of his uncle Manfred as he too lost to Charles of Anjou in a decisive battle when his army was defeated at Tagliacozzo on August 23, 1268. Although Conradin was able to flee at first, he was intercepted and handed over to Charles of Anjou. After a mock trial, Charles had Conradin publicly beheaded together with other companions in Naples on October 29, 1268.

What anecdotes are still told about Conradin?

People have long been particularly fascinated by the tragic end of the last Hohenstaufen. The events of his execution were elaborated more and more over the course of time. The following incident has been related since the 14th century: Infuriated by the brutal beheading of Conradin, an eagle, the heraldic animal of the Hohenstaufen empire, descended in rapid flight to the scene of the event. Before the eyes of the gathered crowd, the eagle drew its right wing through the pool of Conradin’s blood and, bloodstained, took flight again.


Portrait of Conradin

in: Codex Manesse, Cod. Pal. germ. 848, 7r, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg.