Research Project


Who is suited for ruling? Strategies for the legitimation of dynasties, coping with the past and securing the future in Southern Italy under the rule of the House of Hohenstaufen

Dr. Cristina Andenna

Manfred, an illegitimate son of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, was crowned King of Sicily on August 10th, 1258. How did he convince people of his suitability, in spite of his 'impure' blood and considering the hereditary title of his nephew Konradin? In the Historia de rebus gestis Friderici II Imperatoris ejusque filiorum Conradi et Manfredi Apuliae et Siciliae regum, dedicated to Manfred, an anonymous author tries to defend Manfred’s suitability for ruling, by stressing the suitability of the moral and political virtues that he had inherited from his imperial father. Manfred is portrayed as a direct emanation of Frederick, chosen by God and appointed as a suitable successor as King of Sicily. Which arguments and strategies are used in the Historia to justify the credibility of Manfred and his suitability to reign? Where are their limits? The recourse, in the narrative, to exemplary, leading figures aims to create a public consent and to secure Manfred’s perspective of government. Additionally – as a sort of contrasting background – chronicles like those of Saba Malaspina, for example, need to be consulted, by comparison, mainly because of their strong critical attitude towards the House of Hohenstaufen. These works represent a reaction to the political situation in Italy in an attempt to propose fresh arguments in favor of the downfall of the House of Hohenstaufen. The chroniclers refered back to exemplary characters, to biblical and mythological figures, who are pointed out as negative epitomes. Hence, the apocalyptical and eschatological motifs of the strong conflict between Pope and Emperor find their way into the historiographical texts and strengthen the reasons for rejecting the consensus and for legitimizing the transition planned by the Church through the appointment of Charles of Anjou in Sicily.

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