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2012 | 34 | 29-46

Article title

Europa Środkowa w polityce Fryderyka Barbarossy

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The text is a synthetic presentation of the main political themes of Frederick Barbarossa’s policies towards the central European countries. The political area of Central Europe at that time is understood as comprising three kingdoms ruled by the Premyslids, the Piasts, and the Arpads. Although the political interests focused the emperor’s attention first of all on Italy, yet the implementation of these grand strategic projects subordinated to the doctrine of the empire’s honor necessarily also involved the Central European countries to a different degree in the emperor’s policies. The interest of the emperor’s policies towards those kingdoms appears to stem from three principal problems: help in the Italian expeditions, the attitude towards the papal schism, and possible decisions concerning dynastic successions in the three states as long as the ascension to the throne by a candidate guaranteed his loyalty to Barbarossa’s actions. It should be said in the context of these issues that Bohemia under the Premyslids was most closely connected with the emperor’s policy. This manifested itself in regular expeditions to Italy at the emperor’s side, for which the Czech ruler Vladislaus II even received the royal crown from Barbarossa in 1158. However, it was in Bohemia that the emperor decided who would ascend to the throne, which was unthinkable in the other kingdoms. The Piast Poland in the period of disintegration into provinces was on the periphery of the emperor’s interest. The 1157 expedition, concluded with the concord at Krzyszków, was first of all meant to prepare Europe politically and logistically for Barbarossa’s planned great expedition to Lombardy. Hungary, as a hereditary monarchy, was least influenced by the emperor’s aspirations. The reason for this state of affairs was probably also the fact that Hungary was, in a sense, a “borderland” country, where the interests of two contemporary lay powers clashed: those of the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire. The only occasions when Frederick Barbarossa had an opportunity to interfere in Hungary’s policy were connected with conflicts within the Arpad dynasty as was the case for example in 1158 or 1162, when one of the interested parties turned to the emperor for help in winning the throne. The conclusion is that Bohemia was of the greatest value for the emperor’s imperial policy. Barbarossa certainly missed no chance to emphasize his supremacy over Poland and Hungary whenever an opportunity arose. All these actions were subordinated to and depended on Frederick’s principal programme: to defend the honor of the empire.







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  • Institute of History, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS), pl. M. Curie-Skłodowskiej 4a, 20-031 Lublin, Poland


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Publication order reference


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