« PreviousContinue »
tained in person by the troubles in Austria. Let all CHAP. men know, that we have ordered out four armies. for the Austrian service; nevertheless, we ourselves march towards Italy on the 11th of July in very great force. Be strong in our service, make use of the body of knights we have sent before us, and give notice of our approach.'
The Kaiser was at Augsburg on the 27th of June, and was assembling his troops at Lechfeld.* Though himself intent on Italy, he did not overlook the war on the Danube. He entered into a league with the King of Bohemia, the Duke of Bavaria, the Margrave of Brandenburg, and the Bishops of Bamberg and Passau, whereby he bound himself to make no peace with the Duke of Austria without their consent. The rebel was proscribed in the Diet of Augsburg, and deprived of all his honours by the sentence of the Princes, which was speedily carried into execution. Duke Frederick's nobles revolted against him, and in a short time all Austria was subdued except a few very strong castles. This conquest took place during the Kaiser's absence from Germany.†
Before he began his march, he transacted much business. The Archbishop of Salzburg procured an edict, which forbade any molestation of persons on their way to the tribunals by the high roads. The cities of Lubeck, Mayence, and Strasburg were each endowed with a Charter. All oppression of the burghers by the Imperial Officials was forbidden. A letter was sent to Amadeus, the new Count of Savoy, the eldest of a family of six brothers, renowned in Church and State. He received the promise of
*Godefr. Colon. † Herm. Altahensis. Godefr. Colon.
CHAP. knighthood at the Imperial hands, an honour which XI. had been refused him at Haguenau; he was exhorted 1235-1239. to give all the aid in his power against the Lombard
rebels, following the example of his father. Frederick sent other letters to the Romans, demanding the presence of envoys from the city of the Cæsars. This order had to be afterwards repeated, with a rebuke for their sloth and an appeal to the descendants of the old Trojans. Would they tamely see Milan become the rival of Rome? They had now a King, who, to exalt the Roman Empire, had jeoparded his person, opened his treasures, and spared no toils.
In July, according to his promise, the Kaiser set out from Augsburg, leaving behind him his Empress and his heir. He marched by Werda and Gunzen, crossing the Brenner at the head of 1000 knights, each of whom probably had two or three attendants.* This was but a small body of men, to achieve the conquest of Lombardy. He received, however, about this period a seasonable supply of money from his English brother-in-law, who sent him 5000 marks, begging at the same time for indulgence as to the payment of the rest. Frederick marched at the head of his little army down to Brixen. Here he was beset by a crowd of complainants, craving vengeance on their rapacious oppressors. The Emperor summoned the Bishop, who alleged his age and ailments as a reason for the total break-down of the administration of justice in his diocese. By his own desire, the feeble Prelate gave up to the Empire all the temporal rights of his See, contenting himself with his spiritual duties. He also promised to take
the advice of his Chapter before he alienated his revenues; the Duke of Carinthia was installed in one of the Bishop's Castles.
The Emperor reached Trent on the 12th of August, where he was met by Eccelin and Alberic of Romano, the Count of Tyrol, and other vassals. He forbade the Bishop of Trent to alienate the goods of the See. Four days later, Frederick was received with great triumph at the monastery of St. Zeno in Verona. The Montecchi, those enemies of the Capulets better known to us as the Montagues, were rejoiced to welcome the Emperor.* Verona, Guelf in 1226, was now under the rule of Eccelin, and had become a stronghold of the Ghibelline cause. It was the refuge of all the worst characters, and had just received within its walls the murderers of the Bishop of Mantua. Here Frederick found 500 German knights, whom Gebhard von Arnstein had led across the Alps three months before this time. Here also he was joined by 200 knights from Modena.† The very day after his arrival at Verona, he marched to Vacaldo, where he staid a fortnight. The Count of San Bonifazio was holding Mantua against him. The Lombards came forth with their whole strength, encamping at Montechiari; yet they dared not fight.
All this time, Frederick was attended by Baldwin de Vere, who had come on a secret embassy from the King of England, bringing part of the dowry of the Empress. According to this knight's story, which he was afterwards very ready to tell to any listeners, the Emperor was fully aware that the
*Chron. Veronense. Chronicon.
Lombards had even at this time powerful backers, who as yet kept themselves unseen. In fact, the rebels 1235-1239. had received help from the Pope. Frederick called a council of war, where all, high and low, were eager to fight, and to crush the Milanese mice that had dared to creep out of their holes. The enemy heard of this plan, and held a debate, where an old citizen, who carried great weight, spoke as follows. Listen to me: the Emperor is at hand in great strength, and all the world knows that he is our Lord. If we fight, we shall be losers, whatever be the upshot; for if we win, we shall gain a victory over our own Lord; if we lose, he will blot out our name and destroy our city for ever. These being the consequences, I advise a retreat to our home; if he attacks us there, we shall be justified in repelling force by force; and whether he grants us peace or constrains us to drive him off, our city will be safe and our good name will remain stainless.' This plan in the end was acted upon, much to Frederick's joy.* The Cremonese, together with the forces of Parma, Reggio, and Modena, were for some time unable to join him, as he was on the other side of the Oglio; they made their way through the Brescian country on the night of the 11th of September, passing at only two miles distance from the rebel camp. Frederick, hearing of their approach, marched at break of day to meet them, after sounding his trumpets. He mounted his horse and in a loud voice thus complained to his chiefs; Here are pilgrims and travellers going whithersoever they please; yet I do not dare to pass through lands subject to
* M. Paris.
the Empire!' He grasped the standard of the Eagle CHAP. in his own hand and crossed the Mincio, followed by his army. After meeting the Italian Ghibellines he pitched his camp at Godi, and thence laid waste the lands of Mantua. He took Marcaria, and also Mosio, which was abandoned by its Milanese garrison.* He spent a fortnight in ravaging the country, and was then received by his loyal Cremonese gossips in their own city, where envoys from Tuscany and Romagna waited upon him.† Piacenza made herself in this time of danger a wall and a shield for the Lombard League. The Milanese took post there and at Lodi, being resolved to prevent the Emperor from visiting Pavia, his other stronghold. But he was now called off in another direction by a far more pressing danger.
Azzo, the Marquess of Este, was the head of the Guelfs in the Trevisan March. He had lately married a niece of his to the King of Hungary, a fact which proves the rapid rise of Azzo's house. He had been appointed by a Friar, who swayed the politics of Vicenza, to the office of Podesta of that city; one chronicler accuses him of having been its death and destruction.§ He was a stern foe to the house of Romano, and had ravaged the lands of Eccelin this very year. Nor did he pay any respect to
Eccelin's patron; for when Frederick wrote to Vicenza, directing the citizens to send envoys to the Imperial Court at Parma, Azzo published an edict, that no one should dare to mention the Emperor or to make any account of his name, on
Bart. Scriba. Ann. Genuen.
† Ric. San Germano.