The Franks in the early Ideology of Frederick Barbarossa (1152-1158)
By Vedran Sulovsky
Tabula: Journal of the Faculty of Humanities, Vol.14 (2016)
Abstract: This article traces the Frankish legacy in the early years of Frederick Barbarossa’s reign, from his coronation to the diet of Roncaglia (1152-1158). I demonstrate that Frederick’s ideological system was based on a fluctuating set of German, Frankish, and Roman identities, which constituted an imperial identity.
By analysing Frederick’s words and deeds as reported by his contemporaries and comparing them to the Cappenberg Head which he commissioned, I conclude that Frederick alternated between these various identities based on his political situation, and that new ideological developments during his reign, such as the introduction of the term sacrum imperium, stemmed directly from the political discernment of Frederick and his court.
Introduction: The establishment of source-based (scientific) history in the age of Ranke was no small intellectual achievement. Historians turned their eyes to the building blocks of history: source texts. While other sources can amplify our understanding of an event, a process or a structure, only the text can provide the historian with a proper intelligible narrative. Even scientific history, however, did not account for the very existence of a narrative, which has been subjected to scrutiny more recently. Thus, identity as the primary unit of narrative formation, and therefore of all historical ideologies, went mostly unnoticed by the great scholars of ideology.
Top Image: Frederick Barbarossa, middle, flanked by two of his children, King Henry VI (left) and Duke Frederick VI (right). From the Historia Welforum.