First Advisor

John Ott

Date of Award


Document Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors






Third Crusades (1189-1192), Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (approximately 1123-1190) -- Death and burial – Influence, Holy Roman Empire -- History




The purpose of this study is to realign Frederick's crusade as a part of crusading history and remove it from the traditional biographical context in which it is usually found. Inserted at the end of many biographies, the crusade takes on the aspect of a conscious and intentional conclusion to a long reign, especially since it gives his life a convenient symmetry, mirroring the crusade on which Frederick as a younger man began his career. Moreover, as a lens for interpreting his reign as a whole, the crusade is useless since Barbarossa in no way organized his plans around this crusade or considered it a long-term goal. In fact, there were very specific, pragmatic reasons for Frederick to take the cross in 1188, which overshadow any religious, knightly, or eschatological motives. These goals were achieved even before Frederick's army left Europe. Further, by an examination of the sources for Frederick's crusade, a discussion that was wrongly considered concluded in the 1920s will be reopened for interpretation and revision. The sources are complex and even the more complete accounts are based in a multiplicity of perspectives, which makes a linear reading of them difficult. On the basis of these sources, this paper will question Frederick's pious motivations and discuss the ascendancy of the First Crusade as model for German crusaders over that of the Second Crusade.


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