Frederick Barbarossa

New Catholic Dictionary illustration of Frederick BarbarossaAlso known as

  • Frederick I


German king and Roman emperor. Son of Frederick of Swabia. He was crowned king at Aix-la-Chapelle, Germany in 1152, and taking Charlemagne as his ideal determined to expand his supremacy to the limit, which explains his ecclesiastical policy. He succeeded in recovering the royal influence in the selection of bishops, but his attempt to obtain the incomes from vacant benefices in northern Italy, and thereby prove his superiority over the pope, failed. In 1155 for assisting the Holy See against its enemies, he was crowned emperor; during the next few years his foreign policy was successful. The disputed papal election in 1159 gave Frederick the opportunity he sought to demonstrate his imperial supremacy over the papacy. A synod was called at Pavia, Italy by him, and a decision given in favor of anti-pope Victor IV against Pope Alexander III. The opponents of a universal imperial power rallied round Alexander, and eventually the battle of Legnano put an end to Frederick’s pretensions. Having taken the cross in 1189, he started for Palestine, and while crossing the River Saleph in Asia Minor, met with a sudden death.



MLA Citation

  • “Frederick Barbarossa“. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 August 2018. Web. 24 September 2021. <>