Conrad IV of Germany

Conrad (25 April 1228 – 21 May 1254), a member of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, was the only son of Emperor Frederick II from his second marriage with Queen Isabella II of Jerusalem. He inherited the title of King of Jerusalem (as Conrad II) upon the death of his mother in childbed. Appointed Duke of Swabia in 1235, his father had him elected King of Germany (King of the Romans) and crowned King of Italy (as Conrad IV) in 1237. After the emperor was deposed and died in 1250, he ruled as King of Sicily (Conrad I) until his death.

Conrad IV
King of Germany (King of the Romans)
King of Italy
ReignMay 1237 – 21 May 1254
PredecessorHenry (VII)
King of Sicily
Reign13 December 1250 – 21 May 1254
PredecessorFrederick I
SuccessorConrad II
King of Jerusalem
Reign25 April 1228 – 21 May 1254
PredecessorIsabella II and Frederick I
SuccessorConrad III
Duke of Swabia
Reign12 February 1235 – 21 May 1254
SuccessorConrad IV
King of Italy
ReignMay 1237 – 21 May 1254
Born25 April 1228
Andria, Kingdom of Sicily
Died21 May 1254(1254-05-21) (aged 26)
Lavello, Basilicata
SpouseElisabeth of Bavaria
FatherFrederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherIsabella II of Jerusalem
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Early years

He was the second child, but only surviving son of Emperor Frederick II and Isabella II (Yolanda), the queen regnant of Jerusalem. Born in Andria, in the South Italian Kingdom of Sicily, his mother died shortly after giving birth to him and he succeeded her as monarch of the Crusader state of Jerusalem. By his father, Conrad was the grandson of the Hohenstaufen emperor Henry VI and great-grandson of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. He lived in Southern Italy until 1235, when he first visited the Kingdom of Germany. During this period his kingdom of Jerusalem, ruled by his father as regent through proxies, was racked by the civil War of the Lombards until Conrad declared his majority and his father's regency lost its validity.

Rise to power

When Emperor Frederick II deposed his eldest son, Conrad's rebellious half-brother King Henry (VII), Conrad succeeded him as Duke of Swabia in 1235. However, the emperor was not able to have him elected King of the Romans until the 1237 Imperial Diet in Vienna. This title, though not acknowledged by Pope Gregory IX, presumed his future as a Holy Roman Emperor. Prince-Archbishop Siegfried III of Mainz, in his capacity as German archchancellor, acted as regent for the minor until 1242, when Frederick chose Landgrave Henry Raspe of Thuringia, and King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia to assume this function. Conrad intervened directly in German politics from around 1240.

However, when Pope Innocent IV imposed a papal ban on Frederick in 1245 and declared Conrad deposed, Henry Raspe supported the pope and was in turn elected as anti-king of Germany on 22 May 1246. Henry Raspe defeated Conrad in the battle of Nidda in August 1246, but died several months later. He was succeeded as anti-king by William of Holland.

Also in 1246, Conrad married Elisabeth of Bavaria, a daughter of Otto II Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria. They had a son

In 1250 Conrad temporarily settled the situation in Germany by defeating William of Holland and his Rhenish allies.

Italian Campaign

When Frederick II died in the same year, he passed Sicily and Germany, as well as the title of Jerusalem, to Conrad, but the struggle with the pope continued. Having been defeated by William in 1251, Conrad decided to invade Italy, hoping to regain the rich dominions of his father, and where his brother Manfred acted as vicar. In January 1252 he invaded Apulia with a Venetian fleet and successfully managed to restrain Manfred and to exercise control of the country. This year Conrad issued constitutions during the hoftag in Foggia, which were based on the well-known examples from Norman and early Staufer times. In addition, as the new sources show, Conrad tried to reconcile with the Pope, but no agreement was reached. After the death of Frederick II, riots prevailed in parts of the kingdom of Sicily, and several cities attempted to escape the royal control. Conrad was therefore forced to take military action against the revolts. In October 1253 his troops conquered Naples.

Conrad was however not able to subdue the pope's supporters, and the pope in turn offered Sicily to Edmund Crouchback, son of Henry III of England (1253). Conrad was excommunicated in 1254 and died of malaria in the same year at Lavello in Basilicata.[1] Manfred first, and later Conrad's son Conradin, continued the struggle with the Papacy, although unsuccessfully.

Conrad's widow Elisabeth remarried to Meinhard II, Count of Tirol, who in 1286 became Duke of Carinthia.

Conrad's death in 1254 began the Interregnum, during which no ruler managed to gain undisputed control of Germany. The Interregnum ended in 1273, with the election of Rudolph of Habsburg as King of the Romans.[2]


See also


  1. Conrad IV, Daniel R. Sodders, Medieval Italy: An Encyclopedia, Vol. I, ed. Christopher Kleinhenz, (Routledge, 2004), 510.
  2. Judith Bennet and Clive Hollister, Medieval Europe, a Short History. p. 260.

Conrad IV of Germany
Born: 1228 Died: 1254
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Isabella II and
King of Jerusalem
1228 – 1254
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Frederick II
King of Sicily
Duke of Swabia

1250 – 1254
King of Germany and Italy
1237 – 1254
with Frederick II (1237-1250)
Succeeded by
as anti-king since 1247

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