We are continuing with our journey through the Germans series. Again, I cannot emphasize enough: even if you do not show the full documentary in a classroom, you can always show clips of it. Today we are exploring Barbarossa and the Lion.
Barbarossa wants to rule Western Europe like his predecessors, however, many people are standing in his way; mainly Henry the Lion. Henry the Lion was his former ally.
Barbarossa went to Italy to check out his Italian domains. The Italians gave him the nickname Barbarossa because of his red beard. Barbarossa is the tenth German king to wear the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. At his Holy Roman Empire coronation ceremony, Barbarossa is placed above the dukes of Germany. However, his cousin Henry the Lion did not see it that way. He was among the German dukes who thought that there should be a variety of choices for the Holy Roman Emperor. Henry the Lion was not going to let his cousin Barbarossa forget that.
Barbarossa made his way back to his lands. He made his way back to his lands as Emperor. He would rule his kingdom as Emperor. Barbarossa built a new palace to match his vision. The remains of that palace show his vision and he adopted the eagle as his symbol. The eagle meant that he was a world ruler.
The German dukedoms come together to celebrate Barbarossa’s wedding to Beatrice of Burgundy. The Dukes witnessed the consummation of that marriage. It meant that Burgundy was a part of the empire again. In the meantime, Henry the Lion ruled his dukedom of Saxony. He had a map created to celebrate the changing geography of the world. Lions figured prominently in Henry’s court and he would get the nickname Henry the Lion. The Duke would often refer to himself as a lion. The Lion highlighted Henry’s ambitions to be seen as Barbarossa’s equal.
Barbarossa in the meantime a saw himself in the place of the Roman Emperors. He had a bust created to highlight this view.
The contentions between Barbarossa and Henry over who was superior or equal to each other came to ahead in Burgundy. Barbarossa reminded the pope’s emissary that his crown came from God and not from the pope. He created the term Holy Roman Empire as a stamp on that belief. He even stamped that belief on his Italian subjects. He wanted their tributes which they did not give. Many Italian cities gave into Barbarossa’s demands due to Barbarossa’s superior forces.
Milan was the one city that stood out and resisted Barbarossa. Barbarossa lays siege to the city. Eventually, Milan capitulated to Barbarossa. Barbarossa punished the city severely for their resistance. His soldiers plundered Milan and took the relics of the Three Kings taken to Cologne. It became a place of pilgrimage for the common people.
Henry was given the duchy of Bavaria. He founded and established the city of Munich. His goal was to go down in history as the planter of cities. The cities he established bear monuments to himself. The Lion highlights that there are powerful German Dukes as well as the Emperor. Henry goes in and conquerors and colonizes Slavic territories. New German territories are developed by Henry. He marries the daughter of King Henry II of England. He too believes that he got his crown straight from God. Henry was building a strong power base.
Barbarossa and the other German dukes were growing nervous about Henry’s growing power base. Barbarossa asked Henry to help him put down rebellions in Italy. However, Henry refused to go, snubbing the emperor.
To continue to learn more about Barbarossa and Henry continue to watch this documentary.
You can access the YouTube video here.
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