"... that genius among German emperors"

"War to the knife with Rome! Peace and friendship with Islam!”: this was the feeling, this was the act, of that great free spirit, that genius among German emperors, Frederick II." (Friedrich Nietzsche)

18 February 1229: Today, 784 years ago, during the Sixth Crusade, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, Al-Kamil, negotiated the Peace of Jaffa.

Giovanni Villani's "Nuova Cronica" (14th century) depicting Frederick II's (left) and Al-Kamil's meeting.


"Stupor Mundi" Frederick II called in sick for the Fifth Crusade and got promptly excommunicated by Pope Gregory IX. Bell, book and candle did not prevent the emperor to marry Yolande, the daughter of the last Christian King of Jerusalem. Now Frederick decided to go crusading in his very own way - and throwing the Pope into fits of hysterics.

Being fluent in Arabic, Frederick met with Al-Kamil in person and negotiated in amicable fashion a Christian superiority in the holy cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem an Nazarareth as well as Jaffa and Sidon. While the Christians were forbidden to fortify Jerusalem, the Muslims kept control of their holy sites on the Temple Mount, especially the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of Rock. Arguably, Frederick had led the first successful Crusade since Godfrey of Bouillon's bloody debacle in 1099 - this time without bloodshed.

Actually, both sides in the Outremer should have been happy, both had what they wanted - except the Christian die-hards and hardliners. Frederick was of course not allowed to lead a crusade while under anathema and to regain lost Jerusalem without making great slaughter among the heathen was found to be rather unspectacular. Frederick didn't literally give a damn about it and was crowned King of Jerusalem. The Holy City remained in Christian hands until 1244, when newcomers to the Palestine hotbed of religious squabble, the Khwarezmian Turks, took the place. It remained Muslim until 1917.



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