My thesis, entitled Henry VI, Empire and Crusade, focuses on Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, from his early career as co-king through his death, placed within the wider context of Staufer crusading practices and understanding of empire and Weltherrschaft. It grapples with the unique contributions of German crusading and wrestles with the degree to which Henry VI was exceptional or was operating within the models of his more famous father, Frederick I Barbarossa, and son, Frederick II. In order to demonstrate this, I examine how the resurgence of Roman law and increasing importance of knighthood influenced Hohenstaufen understanding of empire and the emperor's prerogatives, and the consequences of this trend. The thesis addresses cooperation and conflict with the papacy, the Italians and the German nobility and how these interactions shaped imperial and crusading policies. Drawing on recent prosopographies and using a prosopographical database of my own construction I compare the participants of Barbarossa's 1189-90 crusade contingent with the forces used by Henry VI to conquer Sicily and the participants in Henry's crusade of 1197-8 in order to discern changes in patterns of familial behavior and loyalty to Staufer ideals and expeditions.
Supervisor: Dr. Thomas F. Madden
Start Date: November 2011