The Emperor and the Saint
Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Francis of Assisi, and Journeys to Medieval Places
Publication Date: May 2011
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The Emperor and the Saint is a vivid place-by-place telling of the life and times of the most enlightened, creative, and dynamic ruler of Medieval Europe, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. St. Francis, who shared with Frederick a love of the natural world and was baptized in the same cathedral in Assisi, is a parallel and contrasting presence. Cassady enthusiastically guides the reader through the history and legends, pausing to describe the architecture of a cathedral, to marvel at the atmosphere of a town, to recommend the best place for a quiet picnic of local fare.Frederick’s mother, Constance, was the daughter of the Norman Sicilian king, Roger II; Frederick’s father, Henry VI, was the scion of the German imperial family, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. When three-year-old Frederick was orphaned in 1198 he came under the guardianship of Pope Innocent III, marking the beginning of a conflict with the Papacy that was to last for the rest of his life—he was excommunicated twice. As a young boy he wandered freely through the streets of Palermo, a crossroad of Eastern and Western cultures. A man of insatiable curiosity, Frederick spent hours developing his knowledge of science and religion, art and philosophy. He traveled the length and breadth of Europe, even going to the Holy Land where, as commander of a Crusade, he negotiated a treaty with Sultan al-Kamil of Egypt, nephew of the great Saladin. Both respected and reviled, Frederick achieved great heights and faced grave disappointments. One failure was his dream to bring Italy and Sicily together in a united empire with a capital at Rome. When Frederick died in December 1250, he was robed in the white habit of a Cistercian monk to demonstrate his connection to both personal/political and religious worlds.This engaging book is richly illustrated with photographs. Armchair historians, general readers of popular biography, and fans of travel literature will delight in Cassady’s lively presentation.
Richard Cassady is an art historian and author of The Norman Achievement.John Julius Norwich has written histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean. His History of the Papacy will be published early in 2011. He has also written on Shakespeare’s history plays, on music and architecture, and most recently a volume of memoirs, Trying to Please.
“The author has written a truly gripping biography of the Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick II. Cassady offers many exciting insights, and brings this extraordinary personality well to life. Moreover, he has succeeded in shedding light on the social-historical and cultural context.”—Albrecht Classen, author of The Medieval Chastity Belt: A Myth-Making Process
“This book offers accessible history with a magnificent sense of place and personalities.” —Martin Marix Evans, author of Naseby 1645: The Triumph of the New Model Army
"There is a certain poetry in the juxtaposition of these two very different lives.... [This is] a good introduction to a rich and varied period of European history and to two of its more remarkable personalities. The excursions around the streets of Italian and German cities ... add romance and atmosphere and make one feel, as the best guidebooks do, that one would like to know the author better. The result is definitely a book to be consumed on an Italian hillside, with a bottle of Frascati in hand."--Wall Street Journal