Manfred (Sicily)

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Manfred is crowned King of Sicily in Palermo (1258), miniature from the Chronica of Giovanni Villani , second half of the 13th century, Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana , Cod. Chigi L VIII 296, fol. 85r

Manfred (* 1232 near Venosa ; † February 26, 1266 near Benevento ) was Prince of Taranto from 1250 , administrator in Imperial Italy and Sicily and from 1258 to 1266 himself King of Sicily .


He was the son of Emperor Friedrich II from the imperial dynasty of Staufer and the Piedmontese noblewoman Bianca Lancia the Younger , with whom the emperor was married on their deathbed in order to declare Manfred's birth to be legitimate . Manfred received the principality of Taranto from his father and the administration of imperial Italy and Sicily during the absence of his half-brother Conrad IV.


The relationship between the half-brothers was tense. Manfred was considered his father's favorite son, who resembled him in many ways. Because of this rivalry and because the situation in Germany became hopeless for the last Hohenstaufen , Konrad himself moved to Italy in 1251, where he died in 1254. Manfred took over the administration in Italy again, this time for Konrad's underage son Konradin, and tried to reconcile with Innocent IV , whom he himself led to Naples in October 1254 . The Pope did not recognize the Hohenstaufen succession and enfeoffed Edmund , the son of Heinrich III , in the same year . of England , with Sicily. Manfred fled to the Saracens in Lucera and with their help conquered all of Naples and Sicily (1257). Henry III. made little effort to enforce his son's claim on Sicily. Manfred continued his father's policy in several respects and was recognized as his legal successor, especially by the Sicilian nobles and the imperial cities of central and northern Italy. A few kilometers north of the city of Siponto , which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1255 , he laid the foundation stone for a new city Manfredonia in 1256 , to which he gave his name and which still bears it today.

Royal rule

The Battle of Benevento 1266. Depiction from the Nuova Cronica by Giovanni Villani, early 14th century

In the meantime, the rival king Wilhelm von Holland had died in Germany , but a re-conquest of rule for the Hohenstaufen was completely illusory. Manfred therefore renounced the German royal dignity, although he had only claimed it on behalf of Konradin. Against Conradin's claims, he was crowned King of Sicily on August 10, 1258 in Palermo . Because Manfred did not want to recognize the Pope as his liege lord , he was banned in 1259 and his kingdom with the interdict . The battle broke out again, in which Manfred triumphed over the Florentines near Montaperti on September 4, 1260 and subjugated all of Tuscany to his rule. However , he did not succeed in conquering Rome . In return, Clement IV enfeoffed Charles I of Anjou , the brother of the French King Louis IX, in 1265 . , with Sicily. The French royal house was much more willing to assert its claim to Sicily than the English had before: In January 1266 a French army set out from Rome on a crusade against Manfred. On February 26, 1266 there was the decisive battle near Benevento , in which Manfred was killed. Since he was under the spell, his body was not buried in consecrated ground, but in the rocky valley on the Garigliano river . This ended the rule of the Hohenstaufen in southern Italy.

Marriages and offspring

Manfred's widow Helena , daughter of the despot Michael II of Epirus , whom he married on June 2, 1259 in Trani , was imprisoned with her five children while fleeing to her home in Trani and died in July 1271, 29 years old, in prison; her daughter Beatrix was only extradited after 22 years in prison in 1288 against Karl's son Charles II , who had been taken prisoner in Aragon. Two of her three sons Heinrich, Friedrich and Anselino died after long imprisonment in Castel del Monte in the Neapolitan Castel dell'Ovo . On the marriage of Manfred's eldest daughter, Konstanze (* 1249, † 1302 in Barcelona ) from his first marriage to Beatrix of Savoy († 10 May before 1258), which he had concluded in December 1247 or January 1248 (the marriage contract dates from April 21, 1247), with Peter III. of Aragon (wedding on July 13, 1262 in Montpellier ), the later claims of Aragon were based on Sicily and Naples. The other surviving Italian Hohenstaufen found asylum in Barcelona. Through the Sicilian Vespers, Peter wrested Sicily from the French.

According to Giovanni Villani, Friedrich II was suffocated with a pillow by his son Manfred. Giovanni Villani, Nuova Cronica, Chronica, 14th century, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome Cod.Chigi L VIII 296, fol. 84r


The anti-Staufer-minded Florentine chronicler Giovanni Villani started the legend of the murder of Emperor Frederick II by Manfred. According to this, Manfred had ambitions for the imperial throne and feared the news of his father's illness that he might surprisingly still recover. Manfred had bribed one of his father's valets and was given access to his room, where he suffocated him with a pillow.

Even before the battle of Benevento , there had been desertion and betrayal in Manfred's troops. When the German mercenaries were defeated by the French during the battle after their initially successful advance, the Italian mercenaries deserted after a flank attack, whereupon most of the Sicilian nobles in Manfred's third line also fled. In Giovanni Boccaccio's book Decamerone (around 1350), Count Guido von Montfort reminds the victorious Charles I of Anjou of this incident with the following words: "You would have decided to rob the poor gentleman of his two daughters ...? It will be so soon for you disappeared from memory, how only the acts of violence committed by Manfred against noble women opened the entrance to this realm for you? "


  • Manfred's documents. Edited by Christian Friedl using preliminary work by Markus Brantl. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 978-3-447-06995-3 .


Web links

Commons : Manfred von Sizilien  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Decamerone, 6th novella of the 10th day
predecessor Office successor
Konradin King of Sicily 1258–1266
King Manfred of Sicily Arms.svg
Charles I.
Friedrich II. Prince of Taranto
Charles I.