jump to navigation

“Third Crusade” 820th Anniversary Series: Frederick of Swabia Dies; Leopold of Austria Becomes Top-Ranked German Royalty at Acre January 20, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in Acre, crusades, Frederick Duke of Swabia, Frederick of Swabia, history, Leopold of Austria, medieval period, Richard the Lionheart, the crusades, third crusade.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

(This post is the eleventh of what will be approximately seventy posts following 820th anniversary highlights of what history now calls the “third crusade.” My novel, The Swords of Faith, tells the story of this legendary clash between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.)


Before Richard the Lionheart and Philip of France started out on their journey to the Middle East, now commonly referred to as the Third Crusade, a huge army led by Frederick I “Barbarossa,” emperor of the Western Empire (also known as the “Holy Roman Empire”), leader of Germanic Christians, started out on May 11th, 1189 over land, also with the aim of retaking Jerusalem for Christianity.  But on June 10th, 1190, about a month before Richard and Philip began their journey, the emperor drowned at a river crossing in what today is southern Turkey. Frederick’s son, Frederick Duke of Swabia, took command of the formidable force, but the army disintegrated quickly as it moved east then south down the Mediterranean coast. Only a small portion of this army arrived in Acre early in October of 1190.  But Frederick, Duke of Swabia, son of the emperor, remained the ranking German Christian at Acre.

On January 20th of 1191, 820 years ago today, the Germans lost their leader, to the illness permeating the Christian camp, illness previously referred to as affecting the issue of the rivalry over who should reign as “King of Jerusalem.” Frederick’s death might seem to be a small issue, considering the reduced size of the German forces. And for the Third Crusade itself, this was arguably a small event. But for the future of Richard Lionheart, this was a huge event, starting a chain reaction of actions and consequences that would shape Richard the Lionheart’s ultimate fate.

Frederick’s death left Leopold of Austria as the ranking German royalty now present, who tried with limited success to rally the remaining German troops under his leadership. By all accounts, Leopold was an unimpressive man, a short pudgy man referred to as “the sponge” because of his love for drink. But he would fancy himself the ranking representative of the Empire. In a future 820th anniversary post, we will discover that Richard Lionheart would adopt the basic camp disrespect for Leopold, resulting in one of the more famous events of the Third Crusade, an event that would lead to some life-changing post-crusade adversity for Richard.

The death of Frederick, Duke of Swabia, on this date 820 years ago, started this chain of events in motion.

Previous 820th Anniversary Posts:

July 4th – The 820th Anniversary of the Launch of the “Third Crusade”

October 4th – Richard the Lionheart Sacks Messina

November 3rd – Queen Sibylla Dies

November 11th – Richard the Lionheart Signs a Treaty with King Tancred of Sicily

November 15th – Queen Isabella’s Marriage to Humphrey of Toron is Annulled

November 19th – Archbishop of Canterbury Dies

November 24th – Conrad of Montferrat Marries Queen Isabella

December 25th – Richard the Lionheart Feasts at Christmas

December 31st – Shipwreck at Acre; Muslim Defenders Lose Resupply

January 5th – A Wall Comes Down, Presenting an Opportunity

To review a comprehensive catalog of historical fiction set during the medieval time period, go to http://www.medieval-novels.com:80/.