Frederick II: A bridge between East and West
Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1194-1250), inheritor of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire and the Normandic kingdom of Sicily, was brought up in the city of Palermo in a multicultural atmosphere par excellence. Whilst consolidating his kingdom, he tackled a series of reforms creating a centralized state with a juridical body which was very advanced for its time.
Salerno’s School became known as the European vanguard of medicine, collecting together Byzantine, Jewish and Arab medical knowledge. These and other advances that were to become a reference point for the following centuries, happened under the patronage and efforts of Frederick II.
But probably Frederick II most original characteristic was his ability to go beyond the cultural and religious barriers to create a relationship of cooperation with the Muslims.
This led to his strange Crusade and his bloodless conquest of Jerusalem. His attitude deepened the confrontation with the Pope in Rome, something he had already inherited from his predecessors. The lack of prejudice and the inquisitive character of the emperor is shown in his own work “De arte Venandi cum avibus” as well as in his promotion of translations of the Classics and Arabic texts. This cultural acquisition in the Middle Ages from the area of Islam provoked a revision in the beliefs base of Christian Europe and a qualitative leap in the field of arts, science and literature.