Barbarossa: The Name of War and Piracy
Barbarossa is a name that has been associated with two different historical figures: one was a Holy Roman Emperor who led a crusade against the Muslim world, and the other was an Ottoman admiral who terrorized the Mediterranean coast with his pirate fleet. Both of them left a lasting impact on the history and culture of their respective regions.
Frederick Barbarossa (1122-1190)
Frederick Barbarossa was the nickname of Frederick I, the Holy Roman Emperor from 1155 to 1190. His name means “red beard” in Italian, and he was known for his fiery temper and ambition. He sought to restore the glory and power of the Roman Empire in Europe, and to expand his influence in Italy and the Holy Land. He fought several wars against the Lombard League, a coalition of Italian city-states that resisted his authority, and against the papacy, which opposed his claim to be the supreme ruler of Christendom. He also led the Third Crusade (1189-1192) to recapture Jerusalem from the Muslim ruler Saladin, but he drowned in the river Saleph in Anatolia before reaching his destination.
Hayreddin Barbarossa (c. 1478-1546)
Hayreddin Barbarossa was the nickname of Khayr al-Din, an Ottoman admiral and pirate who dominated the Mediterranean Sea in the 16th century. His name means “goodness of the faith” in Arabic, but he was also called Barbarossa (“red beard”) by the Europeans because of his red hair. He was born on the island of Lesbos, and became a pirate along with his brother Aruj, raiding Spanish and Portuguese ships and settlements in North Africa. After Aruj was killed by the Spanish in 1518, Hayreddin offered his allegiance to the Ottoman sultan Selim I, who appointed him as the governor of Algiers and later as the admiral of the Ottoman navy. He conquered Tunisia and Tripoli for the Ottomans, and fought against the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who led a crusade to retake Tunis in 1535. He also defeated Charles V’s fleet at the Battle of Preveza in 1538, securing Ottoman supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean until the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
Legacy of Barbarossa
Barbarossa left a considerable political and cultural legacy, especially in Germany and Italy. He was one of the most notable Holy Roman Emperors, who tried to restore the glory and power of the Roman Empire in Europe, and to defend the rights and privileges of the imperial crown against the papacy and the Italian cities. He was also a patron of arts and letters, and a promoter of law and justice. He founded several cities and monasteries, and supported the development of universities and schools. He was admired by his contemporaries as a model of chivalry, courage, and piety. He was also a leader of the Third Crusade, which aimed to recapture Jerusalem from the Muslims, but he died before reaching his goal.
Barbarossa’s image and legend have been depicted in many works of art, literature, music, and film. He has been portrayed as a hero or a villain, depending on the perspective and context of the authors. Some of the most famous works that feature Barbarossa are:
- The Chronica regia Coloniensis, a contemporary chronicle that praises Barbarossa’s deeds and virtues.
- The Nibelungenlied, an epic poem that depicts Barbarossa as a wise and benevolent ruler.
- The Kaiserchronik, a poetic history of the German emperors that glorifies Barbarossa’s achievements.
- The Liber ad honorem Augusti, a panegyric written by Peter of Eboli that celebrates Barbarossa’s conquest of Sicily.
- The Historia de expeditione Friderici imperatoris, a chronicle written by Arnold of LÃ¼beck that narrates Barbarossa’s crusade.
- The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa, a biography written by Otto of Freising and Rahewin that provides a detailed account of Barbarossa’s life and reign.
- The KyffhÃ¤user legend, a folk tale that claims that Barbarossa is not dead but sleeping in a mountain, waiting for the right time to return and restore Germany to greatness.
- The Barbarossa cycle, a series of historical novels by Georg Ebers that depict Barbarossa’s conflicts with the papacy and the Lombard League.
- The Barbarossa opera, an opera by Umberto Giordano that dramatizes Barbarossa’s siege of Milan in 1162.
- The Barbarossa film, a film by Renzo Martinelli that portrays Barbarossa’s battle against Alessandro Lombardo, a fictional leader of the Lombard League.