The short story of Conradin of Swabia

Corradino Hohenstaufen was born March 25, 1252 in Landshut in Lower Bavaria. He was the son of Emperor Conrad IV and Elizabeth of Wittelsbach. He died beheaded in the Piazza Mercato in Naples, after the ill-fated expedition to the conquest of the kingdom of Sicily usurped by Charles of Anjou.

The father Conrad IV was the son of Frederick II, the great king and enlightened emperor, who had ruled on southern Italy and that made Melfi the capital of empire, was the nephew of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.

His mother was the daughter of Duke Otto II of Bavaria has belonged to the old German mansion Wittelsbach, the same, centuries later, of the Empress Elizabeth of Following the death of Conrad IV took place in 1254, Conradin was orphaned at the age of two years and ended in the middle of a fight between his uncles for the succession to the various titles and possessions of his father.

Eventually he was recognized by the pope at the time, Alexander IV, the title of King of Jerusalem and Duke of Swabia, but he was not received the title of King of Germany and King of the Kingdom of Sicily.

The small Conradin had a fairly thorough education for the time, he could read and write also knew enough Latin.

By adolescence began to become aware of the situation and to realize that, lost the crown of King of Germany, he could aspire to become King of the Kingdom of Sicily, which had been proclaimed king his uncle Manfredi brother of Conrad IV; his uncle was defeated and killed in 1266 by French Charles of Anjou in the battle of Benevento; Pope Clement IV recognized Charles of Anjou as ruler of the kingdom of Sicily.

Conradin began to gather around a group of courtiers who, mindful of the good governance of the Hohenstaufen in Italy, especially of Frederick II and united by hatred of the French Charles of Anjou, wanted Corradino, cultured and gentle, as sovereign of Sicily.

These people were been members of the Government of Uncle Manfredi, including Galvano Lancia, Corrado Capece, Tommaso d’ Aquino and Roberto Filangieri; this showed the foresight of the young nobleman and his intention to appoint the personality of the place the government of the kingdom.

Corradino, at age fifteen, began to command a small army of about a thousand soldiers and in 1267 came to Italy to regain the Kingdom of Sicily from the hands of the usurper Charles of Anjou; He counted along the way, to get support among the many rulers in Italy of faith Ghibelline who sided with the German dynasty in contrast with the Guelph who sided with the French.

While traveling in Italy, he stopped first in Verona and then in Pavia, while his army as it increased to include six thousand men. From Pisa, where he took the papal excommunication and the consequent loss of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, he went with his army to Rome through the Via Francigena, passing Viterbo where he had fled the Pope Clement IV.

On 24 July 1268 entered in Rome where he was warmly welcomed by the population and a part of the Roman nobility, including Henry of Castile, another part of the papal nobility, including the Frangipane and Column, remained neutral, the stay of nobility remained loyal to the Pope.

Meanwhile, spurred by uprisings that were breaking out all over the kingdom, Charles of Anjou had to move with his army encounter in Corradino. From Puglia, where he was with the army because of the rebellion of the Saracens of Lucera, he headed for Rome by the Via Valeria.

Conradin, to the head of five thousand cavalrymen and a large infantry, turned onto the Via Valeria to move to meet Charles, who was headquartered in Campo Palentino near Tagliacozzo in a favorable position for battle.

Battaglia di Tagliacozzo (1268) - by Wikipedia: Acoma
Battaglia di Tagliacozzo (1268) – by Wikipedia: Acoma

Conradin, flanked by Enrico of Castile made a detour to L’Aquila to allow his infantry, who had been lingering, to join him. At first Charles walked with his cavalry to L’Aquila, but then he returned to Campo Palentino waiting opponent. On August 23, 1258 began the battle known as the Battle of Tagliacozzo between the army of Corradino of Swabia and the army of Charles of Anjou.

Both armies were deployed on three lines. Charles to compensate for his outnumbered arranged his third line behind a hill hidden from view Swabian army. In addition, the commander of the first line, to trick opponents wore the royal insignia.

In the first clashes the army of Conradin prevailed defeating the first two lines of the Angevin army, not realizing the third line that had been kept in reserve.

Thinking to have killed Charles of Anjou rather then his lieutenant because of the royal insignia, and convinced that they had won, the soldiers of the army of Conradin dismounted to start looting, at this point the third line Angevin attacked and defeated the enemy forces.

Conradin, who had not participated in the battle, scaped with a few of his trusted and about five hundred cavalrymen, the battle had cost the lives of a thousand men.

The escapees went to Rome, where had changed the climate and the welcome was not favorable, then reached Anzio with the intention of embarking towards Pisa. The local nobleman, Giovanni Frangipane, once an ally of the Swabian noble, but then moved into the ranks of the Pope, captured the young nobleman and his companions and gave them to Charles, who locked them up in the dungeons of Castel dell’Ovo in Naples.

At this point he had to decide the fate of Conradin, which was marked by the will of Charles of Anjou to suppress it; then Charles was summoned to Naples eminent jurists, and following their decision, Conradin was accused of the crime of treason as the code issued by Frederick II and sentenced to be beheaded with his fellows. The Pope declared: “terminal Corradini, Caroli life; life Corradini, terminal Caroli ” for this sentence.

Decapitazione di Corradino - by Wikipedia: File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske)
Decapitazione di Corradino – by Wikipedia: File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske)

On 22 October 1268, at the age of sixteen, Conradin and his companions was executed in the Piazza Mercato in Naples. Before dying he threw a glove at the crowd, which was gathered by Giovanni da Procida, physician and adviser to Frederick II, later promoter of the uprising in Sicily against the Angevins, known as the revolt of the “Vespri Siciliani”.

Conradin was buried in unconsecrated ground near a Jewish cemetery with his unfortunate companions. His mother, Elizabeth of Bavaria, rushed to Naples to groped to save her son in exchange for a large sum, arrived when he was already been executed. She obtained the return of the body that she buried in the Carmelite church, located near the Piazza Mercato where the beheading took place.

330px-Corradino_Statue
Bertel Thorvaldsen: Corradino di Svevia – by Wikipedia: Maurizio Rea CC BY SA 3.0

In 1832 Maximilian II of Bavaria, heir of the Wittelsbach family, ordered a statue to be placed on the grave of Corradino in the “Chiesa del Carmine” to the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, in whose basement in 1841 the bones were closed up; on the stone in front of the statue is called Conradin the last of the family Hohenstaufen.
During second World War the Germans went in search of the remains to transport them to Germany. The Carmelite monks hid the grave with a large drape, so they managed to prevent the theft.

Some historians trace the traditional hardships of Germans against the French in this matter, because the Germans believed a grave injustice the sentencing to death of young Conrad, who was not even subjected to a regular trial.