Holy Roman Emperor. Born in Waiblingen, Germany, Barbarossa was elected King of Germany on March 4th, 1152, succeeding his uncle, Conrad III, and he was further crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1155. As the son of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, duke of Swabia, and Judith of Bavaria, of the rival Guelph dynasty, Frederick was descended from Germany's two principal families, making him an acceptable choice for the Empire's princely electors as heir to the Imperial crown. Barbarossa undertook six expeditions into Italy, in the first of which he was crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Adrian IV. Thereafter, relations between Emperor and Pope descended into bitter conflict culminating in Frederick's defeat at the Battle of Legnano near Milan (1176) by the pro-Papal Lombard League. After making his peace with Pope Alexander III, Frederick embarked on the Third Crusade (1189) with Philip Augustus of France and Richard I of England; as he and his men had marched through the hot desert, the sight of water so overjoyed him that he jumped into the Saleph river in Cilicia in south-eastern Anatolia, without removing his armor, and drowned. His surviving knights were so distraught that some comitted suicide; others joined the Saracens, convinced that God himself had abandoned them. Some of the surviving knights put Barbarossa's body in a pickle barrel, and planned to take it to Jerusalem, as a small form of victory, but the stench became too foul, and Barbarossa was buried at St Peter's Cathedral in Antioch, the site where the Lance of Longinus had been discovered. The Cathedral was, in later years, burned to the ground. However, Barbarossa is the subject of a sleeping hero legend. He is said not to be dead, but asleep with his knights in a cave in Kyffhäuser mountain in Thuringia, Germany, and that when ravens should cease to fly around the mountain, he would awake and restore Germany to its ancient greatness. According to the story his red beard has grown through the table beside which he sits. His eyes are half closed in sleep, but now and then he raises his hand and sends a boy out to see if the ravens have stopped flying.
Bio by: Mongoose
Bertha of Hohenstaufen