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Frederick BarbarossaThe Prince and the Myth$
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John B. Freed

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300122763

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300122763.001.0001

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(p.518) Epilogue
Frederick Barbarossa

John B. Freed

Yale University Press

This epilogue first explains the reaction to Frederick's death. The initial reaction to the news of his death was mixed. It was the drowning that was inexplicable. Frederick had not died in a battle against the infidel or in the Holy Land, but while swimming or taking a bath. Worst of all, he had died without confessing his sins or receiving the viaticum. To allay misgivings about his salvation, some chroniclers changed the story of Frederick's drowning so the dying emperor had a chance to repent. The chapter then describes how in the later Middle Ages, Frederick's grandson, Frederick II, became the subject of apocalyptic imaginings about a returning last emperor ready to punish and/or purify a corrupt Church. This is followed by discussions of the Romantic rediscovery of Frederick; the Wilhelmine appropriation of Barbarossa; linking of Barbarossa to the Führer and German hopes of regaining the country's lost eastern lands; and debates over Barbarossa's policies after World War II.

Keywords:   Frederick Barbarossa, biography, death, Frederick II, drowning, Romantics, Wilhelmine, Germany

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