Pope Innocent II: Frederius II

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In his medieval chronicle, Chronica Majora, Matthew Paris discusses the life and times of Frederik II. Frederik II, the Holy Roman Emperor, is often considered the first modern ruler due to some of his reforms. During his reign he continually fought with the church, particularly Pope Innocent IV. Although Frederik damaged the Church through manipulation of the papacy, particularly of Innocent IV, Matthew Paris was sympathetic to him for his academic and logical approach to tyrannical rule, while the pope was power-hungry in a less sophisticated way. The most damaging thing Frederik II did the to the church was his attempt at controlling the papacy. After the death of Pope Gregory IX, Frederik’s enemy, Frederik attempted to arrange for the election of a pope who would more readily accede to Frederik’s wishes. Frederik tried to accomplish this through striking aggression. “To intimidate the cardinals, Frederick had brought an army to within sight of the walls of Rome” (Paris, 297), and he also “detained two…show more content…
Matthew Paris, however, certainly gave Frederik the benefit of the doubt, seemingly because Frederik was an intelligent ruler who, though prone to vengeance, tried to modernize his domain, and free it from untheologically-sound superstition. In contrast, the popes with whom he fought were also power-hungry secularly inclined rulers, not holy religious leaders, who did not appear to reestablish sound theological practices to the Church. Frederick was very well educated: “it was said he spoke six languages” (Lauri, 5), and removed superstitious practices from the laws: “The ordeal for proving innocence by fire and water was prohibited” (Paris, 335). A learned monk like Matthew Paris would value the intellectual achievements of Frederik II, as seen in his knowledge of languages, and attempt to move beyond irrationally superstitious
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