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THE news of Frederick’s death was received with great joy by the papal court. Innocent IV expressed his delight in no measured language, and looked forward to the entire destruction of the race of Hohenstauffen. The enemies of the imperial house were urged on by the mendicant orders. In Germany, Conrad was denounced as a son of Herod; in Italy, the Frangipani now put themselves at the head of the papal party; quarrels between Guelphs and Ghibellines were rife in every city. Civil war raged from the Rhine and the Danube to the southernmost promontory of Sicily. After acknowledging William of Holland as king of Germany, and giving him hopes of the imperial crown, Innocent left Germany a prey to destruction, and returned to Rome in a triumphal procession. But it was easy to see from the strength of the opposition that it was hopeless for him to attempt to revive the authority of Innocent III. He hoped to recover his power over the kingdom of the two Sicilies, but here he was met by Manfred, a natural son of Frederick, who was acting as the viceroy of his half-brother, Conrad IV. Manfred, now eighteen years old, and one of the most picturesque figures in history, immortalized by Dante, beautiful, brave, and chivalrous, clever, cultivated, and generous, drew the hearts of all to his allegiance.

The pope reached Rome by way of Bologna, where Enzio was imprisoned, and ordered Manfred to surrender all the castles in his possession, offering him Taranto as a papal fief. Manfred refused, and called Conrad to his counsels. Conrad crossed the Alps and reached Verona, where he met the faithful ally of the empire, Ezzelino da Romano, a monster of cruelty, whose excesses offended even the seared consciences of that blood-stained age. Conrad, sailing from Pola, landed at Siponto, afterwards called Manfredonia, where he was met by Manfred, whom he treated with great honor. But, under the influence of Pietro Ruffo, a minister of humble birth, the emperor of twenty-four gradually became jealous of the viceroy of eighteen, who surpassed him in brilliancy and popularity. Yet the generous and open-hearted Manfred assisted him in all his enterprises, reduced the towns of Apulia, and helped him to conquer Naples, which he entered in triumph on October 1, 1253.

Innocent intended to oppose to Conrad, as king of the two Sicilies, Henry, the son of Isabella of England, then seventeen years old, to whom his brother Manfred had already committed the government of Sicily. But he died suddenly in December 1253, and was soon after followed to the grave by Frederick, the son of the unhappy Henry (VII), so that the only legitimate heirs of the great Frederick were his son Conrad and his grandson Conradin, whom the Bavarian Elizabeth had borne to Conrad during his absence in Italy. During the siege of Naples, Innocent had offered the Neapolitan crown to Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX, and to Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III, both of whom refused. But in 1255 Henry accepted it for his younger son Edmund, the chief result  being to give the Pope an excuse for demanding Conrad large sums from England, and to increase Henry’s embarrassments. Meanwhile, on May 21, 1254, Conrad died suddenly at Bavello, near Melfi, leaving as his heir a baby of two years old in the mountains of Bavaria. The fate of the rival king, William of Holland, need not detain us. He had no real power, and under his weak rule the disruptive forces which always existed in Germany had full play. On January 28, 1256, mounted on a heavy horse and clad in full armour, though more accustomed to walk barefooted to church in a woolen robe, he rode across the ice to attack the Frisians. His horse broke through the ice, and he was killed by the peasants, and buried under the doorstep of a house in Hoogwoude; but in 1282 his bones were removed by his son Frederick to a monastery in Middelburg.

Innocent was not less delighted at the death of Conrad than he had been when Frederick perished. After the emperor had been buried in the cathedral of Messina, Manfred went with an embassy to the pope at Anagni, to ask for the recognition of the child Conradin as successor to his father. Instead of taking the opportunity of securing the power of the  church by accepting the guardianship of the infant whom his father had left to his care, Innocent excommunicated Manfred and all the most powerful Hohenstauffens, and sent his nephew, Cardinal William Fieschi, as legate to Sicily, with orders to seize it for the Holy See. The Ghibellines were driven to resistance, and had no alternative but to place Manfred at their head. Once more Manfred offered peace, but the pope met him with duplicity, proposing to make him prince of Taranto and count of Andria, and to recognize Conradin as duke of Swabia and king of Jerusalem, when he had already given Taranto to the Frangipani, and Sicily to the English Edmund. The pope now left Anagni with a crowd of fugitive Guelphs and entered Apulia at Ceprano. Manfred held his stirrup as he crossed the bridge over the Garigliano, and on October 27, 1254, he entered Naples. Nobles came to take the oath of allegiance, but there was no mention of the rights of Conradin. Manfred saw that he was surrounded by treachery and intrigue, and fled for his life through the mountains to Lucera, where he found the protection of his faithful Saracens, and an abundant treasure. He attacked the papal troops, and drove Cardinal William back to Naples, where he heard that his master, Innocent, was dead. The pope, with his heart broken by the defeats of Foggia and Troja, died on December 7, 1254, in the palace of Pietro delle Vigne. He was a man of ability, energy, and ambition, but was devoid of piety and of elevation of character. He was a bitter partisan, and deserves neither our respect nor our admiration.

After nine days, a new pope was elected, the bishop of Ostia and Velletri, of the house of Conti, a nephew of Gregory IX, and in three weeks he was consecrated under the title of Alexander IV. He continued the old policy, but not with the same success. The growth of Manfred’s power compelled him to leave Naples, and to retire first to Anagni and then to Rome. There the rising of the Roman people, who were anxious to recall their hero, Brancaleone, the avenger of wrong, the friend of the law, the protector of the people, from Bologna, drove him to seek refuge in Viterbo, where he remained for the rest of his life. Manfred occupied first Naples and then Sicily. The pope was obliged to give up his political plans, as the English would not allow Henry III to incur the expense of making his son Edmund king of Sicily or his brother Richard emperor of Germany. The year 1259, which we have now reached, saw the end of the monster Ezzelino da Romano. Age only stimulated his evil qualities : the ban of two popes hardened his resolution. We can only suppose that he was mad, and it was a sign of the times that a madman should be allowed to rage unfettered. Everyone who aroused his jealousy, stirred his anger, stimulated his passions, or stood in the way of his ambition, was so treated that the living envied the dead, and whole families of nobles were put to death. Race, riches, genius, and virtue were punished as crimes, and the streets of his dominions resounded with the groans of those who were being tortured with the rack. Padua and the Marches were as if stricken with the plague; fugitives, if caught, were deprived of their arms and feet. At last he was defeated by his enemies at the bridge of Cassano, and imprisoned in the castle of Soncino. He sat there brooding over his misfortunes, refusing the ministration of religion, regretting only that he had not exacted a fuller vengeance from his enemies, till, at last, on December 7, 1259, he tore the bandages from his wounds and died. His brother Alberic suffered a worse fate. He was captured by his former friend, the marquis of Este, together with his wife Margaret, their six sons, and two lovely daughters. After seeing his family strangled before his eyes, he was torn to pieces by wild horses and his limbs were buried. The all-powerful house of Romano

In the following year, Manfred, hearing a false report that Conradin was dead, was crowned king of Sicily and Apulia in the cathedral of Palermo, on August 11, 1258. Elizabeth sent to tell him that Conradin was still alive, and to order him to lay aside his crown and acknowledge his nephew; but Manfred replied that the southern nobles would never accept a northern sovereign, that Conradin should succeed him after his death, but that in the meantime the boy had better come to him and learn how to rule a southern population. Manfred governed with wisdom and success, and established a court in Palermo equal to that of his father in splendour and in the encouragement of art, literature, and science. He even thought of extending his rule over Epirus and Aetolia. But the pope insisted on Sicily being held as a papal fief and on the Saracens being sent back to Africa, and, when Manfred proudly refused to surrender his independence and summoned more Saracens to help him, excommunicated the recalcitrant sovereign as his predecessor had excommunicated his father.

But the weapon had become blunt by indiscriminate usage, and the ban only stimulated Manfred to make himself sovereign of an independent and united Italy. Happily for him, Ezzelino was dead, and he made Palavicini, the bitter enemy of the monster, his lieutenant in Lombardy. He made treaties with Venice and Genoa, and appointed a Doria of Venice his viceroy in Spoleto and the March. The Ghibelline Farinata degli Uberti had been driven out of Florence by the Guelfs and took refuge in Siena, from which the Florentines advanced to expel him. Manfred sent his German mercenaries to assist him, and on September 4, 1260, the Guelfs were entirely defeated in the battle of Montaperti on the Arbia, a conflict celebrated in the verse of Dante, who was born five years after it. The Guelf caroccio was captured, the exiled Ghibellines returned, and their enemies took refuge in Lucca. Florence and nearly the whole of Tuscany acknowledged Manfred as their lord. The Guelfs sent to Conradin for assistance, begging him to come to Italy, upon which he declared war against Manfred; but Alexander IV: died at Viterbo on March 28, 1261; Florence, Siena, and Pisa formed themselves into a Ghibelline league with Manfred as their protector; and Perugia and Umbria alone remained faithful to the Holy See.

The Cardinals in Viterbo elected James Pantaleone, a French prelate of humble extraction, now patriarch of Jerusalem, to the Papal throne. He took the name of Urban IV, and pursued the "viper brood" of the Hohenstauffen with as much passion as his predecessors. But Manfred stood at the height of his power. The excommunicated king reigned in splendor at Palermo; his voice was more powerful than that of the Pope on the Tiber, the Arno, and the Po; and Peter of Aragon was not prevented Urban IV by pious scruples from marrying Constance, the daughter of Manfred by his first marriage. Urban, in despair, turned to his countryman, Charles of Anjou, the brother of St. Louis, the husband of Beatrice of Provence, whose three sisters had married sovereigns, and a treaty was signed between them in 1263. But Urban’s satisfaction was diminished by Charles being elected by the Roman Guelfs as senator of Rome for life. In the midst of these troubles, Urban IV, who had never set foot in Rome, died at Perugia on October 2, 1264,

In the conclave opinions were divided, but the French party finally won the day, and Guido le Gros, of St. Gilles in Languedoc, a Provencal by birth, was consecrated pope in the cathedral of Perugia on February 22, 1265, with the title of Clement IV. He had lived long as a layman, but, on the death of his wife, had become a Carthusian, then bishop of Puy, archbishop of Narbonne, and cardinal of Santa Sabina. He was reluctant to receive the throne at his advanced age, but, being a personal friend of Charles and being promised the assistance of Louis IX, he consented, and inaugurated a crusade against Manfred "the usurper and the sultan". In April 1265, the year of Dante’s birth, Charles sailed from the coast of Provence first to Pisa and then to Ostia, where, owing to the stormy weather, he landed in a small boat, and entered the Holy City on Whitsunday, May 23. The Romans of all classes—nobles, clergy, and people—received him with acclamation; he was invested as senator in the Capitol on June 21, and seven days later was crowned in the Lateran as king of Sicily, receiving the kingdom as feudatory of the pope. On October 14, he founded a university in Rome as a memorial of his new reign. He had, however, come to Rome without money and without troops, to take the crown from the head of a rival who was well provided with both. He was forty-six years of age,—strong, tall, and dignified, —stern, dark, and terrifying. He never smiled, and slept but little. He was a hard man, stubborn, cruel, and ambitious. He was pitted against the paragon of chivalrous manhood, generous, affable, and cultured, an enemy to craft and passion. But when Clement IV publicly announced that the Church had found in the count of Provence a champion against the poisonous brood of a dragon of poisonous race, and gave absolution to all those who should take the cross or assist the Church with money—when swarms of friars spread over the country, declaring it to be a Christian duty to attack the condemned heretic king of the Mohammedans — many answered to the summons.

The French crusaders who crossed the Alps numbered 30,000 men. Those who had fought on the side of the church against the Albigenses now turned their swords against Manfred. In December 1265, the Provençals reached Rome. On Epiphany Day, 1266, Charles and his wife, Beatrice, were crowned in St. Peter's as king and queen of Sicily. Manfred desired a reconciliation, but the pope answered, "Tell Manfred that the day of mercy is passed, the armed hero is at the door, the axe is laid at the root of the tree". The decisive battle took place on February 26,1266, on the Field of Roses, north-west of Benevento. The battle was one between French and Germans. The German knights, amongst whom was Rudolf of Hapsburg, fought bravely, but the French killed their horses with their short swords, and, when the riders fell, knocked them on the head with their clubs. When the Apulians saw the Germans defeated, they ran away. The silver eagle fell from Manfred’s helmet ; he recognized the token of disaster, and, saying, “All is lost”, rode with Theobald Asinibaldi into the thick of the melée, and met the death he sought. His naked body, covered with wounds, a great gash on his forehead, was found two days later, and was buried at the head of the bridge of Benevento. As each French soldier passed by his grave with reverence, he cast a stone upon it, and raised a cairn, but the bishop of Consenza, Manfred’s bitter foe, at the bidding of the pope, dug the body up, and threw it across the border, out of the dominions of the church, where it lay exposed to rain and wind. Even today the peasants of that solitary valley think of the young king, beautiful, gifted and unfortunate, dying at the age of thirty-three, heroic in his death as in his life.

At this time, the crown of Germany was disputed between Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III, and Alfonso X of Castile, known as the Wise. Money was the decisive factor in the choice. On January 13, 1257, Richard was elected king at Frankfort, and on April 1 Alfonso was elected to the same office at Trier. Richard was crowned at Cologne on May 17. This begins the period of the German Interregnum. Alfonso never visited his kingdom, Richard confined himself to spending money, and the English objected to the extravagance of the prince whom they called King of the Romans. Richard was German king for fifteen years, but exercised no influence over the country. After being imprisoned at home by the discontented barons, he visited Germany for the last time, and held a diet at Worms in March 1269. In June 1267 he had married, at the age of fifty-eight, the youthful Beatrice of Folkenstein, but died in 1271, mourned chiefly by those who had fattened on his bounty. Whilst Germany was in this state of weakness and confusion, Ottokar of Bohemia was consolidating his dominions and endeavoring to extend them. He first attacked Bavaria, but was defeated in the battle of Mühldorf on August 25, 1257, and then turned his attention to Salzburg and Styria, and also fought against Hungary. He greatly increased his power. The struggle between Richard and Alfonso gave him hopes of obtaining the German throne, but, for the moment, he attached himself to Richard, and, on August 9, 1262, appeared before him at Aachen, and asked to be invested with his Austrian dominions. He further strengthened his position by divorcing his wife, from whom he could expect no heir, and marrying a Hungarian princess in October 1261. He also made another war against Bavaria, and acquired Carinthia and Carniola in 1268 and 1269, so that at the beginning of the seventies he was the most powerful sovereign in Germany, and there was great likelihood that the crown of the Teutons would be placed on the head of a Slav when the death of Richard of Cornwall made a new election imminent. The peace of Pressburg, signed in July 1271, recognised Ottokar as lord of Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and the Wendish mark, upon which Duke Henry of Bavaria deserted his Hungarian friends and made an alliance against all the world with Ottokar. In Hungary, after the untimely death of Stephen V, the crown was disputed between his young son Ladislaus, the Kuman, and Bela, brother-in-law of Ottokar. This produced a civil war, which made Ottokar more powerful than ever. He ruled over a well organised and well governed kingdom, while the rest of Germany was a prey to weakness and disunion. The commanding position held by the Bohemian sovereign before the election of Rudolf of Hapsburg, although it is recognized by Dante, is too much neglected by historians.

Pope Clement IV heard of the victory of Benevento with mixed feelings. Although a Frenchman, he could not look with satisfaction on the position which his friend Charles had now attained, nor could he approve of the immorality and cruelty which the French exhibited in the country which they had conquered. When Manfred’s wife, Helena, heard in Lucera of her husband’s death, she determined to retire with her children to her relations in Epirus. But she was seized at Trani and imprisoned at Nocera, where she died, after five years’ miserable existence, at the age of twenty-nine. Her daughter Beatrice languished for eighteen years in the Castello dell' Uovo at Naples, till she was set at liberty by the Aragonese. Manfred's three young sons  —Henry, Frederick, and Enzio—innocent  boys, grew up in prison, fettered and half starved. The two younger soon died, but eldest, now blind, prolonged his miserable life for many years. Meanwhile, Charles entered Naples in triumph. Romans had triumphed over Teutons : the church had vanquished the Hohenstauffens. Frederick of Antioch and his son Conrad submitted to Charles, and retired into obscurity. Enzio languished in prison; the scaffold disposed of the rest of Manfred’s party who were not in prison or in banishment; the French continued an unrestrained career of robbery and lust. The condition of Sicily was as bad as that of Italy.

The Ghibellines, in their distress, looked to Conradin, the youthful grandson of the great Frederick. Since the marriage of his mother in 1259 with Meinhard of Gorz, who also possessed the Tyrol and Carinthia, he had lived quietly, either with his uncle, Duke Louis of Bavaria, at Donauworth, or with his tutor, Bishop Eberhard, at Constance, nourishing his gifted soul on the songs of minnesingers, legends of Tannhauser, Lohengrin, and the Nibelungen, and stories of the greatness of his house. When ambassadors came to ask his assistance from Apulia and Sicily, calling on the king of Sicily, Apulia, and Jerusalem, and duke of Swabia to help them, he rose to the cry of woe, in spite of his mother’s warning, like a young eagle, scarcely old enough to imp his wings.

Charles and Clement met at Viterbo to concert measures against the common foe. In the autumn of 1267, Conradin set out from Augsburg with his cousin, Frederick of Austria, his stepfather, Meinhard of Tyrol, and his uncle Louis of Bavaria, and left Swabia, never to return. He took leave of his mother and youthful wife at Hohenschwangau,—that spot of unearthly beauty, consecrated by the memory of another Bavarian Louis,—crossed the Brenner, and descended the valley of the Adige. But in Verona, where they found that his money was exhausted, most of his followers left him, even his uncle Louis, and his stepfather, Meinhard. Only 3000 knights remained faithful to the gallant lad. In Italy things were better; Galvano Lancia was received at Rome with honour as his representative; he was welcomed by embassies from Pisa, Siena, and the Tuscan Ghibellines. Henry of Castile, knight and troubadour, wrote verses in his honour, which urged him to take possession of the beautiful garden of Sicily, and to grasp with a firm hand the crown of the Roman empire. The pope excommunicated him, and laid his interdict on all cities that were favourable to him. Charles and Clement met again at Viterbo in April 1268. The king wished to engage Conradin in the valley of the Po, but the pope persuaded him to remove the struggle to Apulia.

At the beginning of May 1268, Conradin and Frederick of Austria united their forces at Pisa. They were received with enthusiasm in Tuscany, and on July 24 Conradin looked down upon Rome from the heights of Monte Mario. In the city itself he was awaited by a host of armed soldiers, with crowns on their helmets, while the people accompanied him with songs, bearing flowers and olive branches in their hands. The houses were decorated with costly carpets. Conradin mounted to the Capitol, where he received the homage of his subjects. On August 10, he marched into the mountains by way of Tivoli in order to effect a junction with his faithful Saracens, whom Charles was besieging in Lucera. The two armies met on August 23, at Scurcola, between Tagliacozzo and Alba, Charles marching northwards, to intercept the march of Conradin towards Solmona. In the shock of the onslaught the troops of Charles were driven back, and it was reported that the king was dead. But, by the advice of Aymer de St. Valery, he had posted a band of 800 chosen knights in ambush behind a hill. Whilst the German troops, secure of victory, were plundering the Provencal camp, this reserve came steadily on, threw the disorderly mass into confusion, and gained a complete victory. Conradin and Frederick escaped the slaughter, and rode away by Vicovaro to Rome, which they reached on August 28, five days after the battle. Finding the capital unsafe, they rode down the Via Appia to the sea-coast, hoping that some friendly ship would carry them to Pisa or to Sicily. They found one in Astura and set sail, but were captured by John Frangipani, whom the pope had invested with the fief of Taranto. Influenced partly by fear and partly by a large sum of money which was offered him, Frangipani, deaf to all sense of honour, delivered his prisoners in chains to Charles at Genezzano. Charles was determined to put the last of the Hohenstauffens to death, but it was difficult to do so with any show of justice. Conradin was formally tried, but acquitted by all but one of his judges. Charles, nevertheless, pronounced the sentence of death upon him. He was executed on October 29, 1268, in the market-place of Naples, where the spot where the scaffold was erected is still shown. The boy, scarcely seventeen, and his cousin, Frederick, a few years older, suffered together. After he had prayed, Conradin said, as his last words, “0 mother, what terrible news you will hear about me!”. Before he died, he cast his glove into the crowd, and it was taken up by one who afterwards stirred up the Sicilian Vespers of 1282. Conradin was buried in the church of the Carmelites close by, where a beautiful statue, erected by Maximilian of Bavaria, commemorates his fate. His life and death have never been forgotten, and it was said in September 1870 that Sedan exacted vengeance for Tagliacozzo.


Four weeks later, Pope Clement IV died, the spirit of the murdered Conradin troubling his last hours. For two years the cardinals in Viterbo neglected to supply his place, but in September 1271 the choice fell upon Tibaldo Visconti of Piacenza, who was then engaged in a crusade, and could not be crowned in St. Peter’s till March 1272, when he assumed the title of Gregory X. He strove to increase the independence of the Holy See, disregarded the claims of Alfonso of Castile to the imperial crown, and favoured those of Rudolf of Hapsburg, who was elected in the following year. He summoned an ecumenical council at Lyons in the spring of 1274, which placed the conduct of crusades on an orderly footing, took some steps towards the union of the Greek and Latin churches, and drew up rules for the election of popes in a secret conclave. Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventura—the shining lights of the Dominican and Franciscan Orders respectively—both died at the time of this council, one at Fossa Nuova, on his way to attend it, —the other of plague, in Lyon itself. After the death of Gregory in 1276 four Popes were enthroned within two years,—Innocent V, Hadrian V, John XXI, and the Orsini, Nicholas III, elected in December 1277, who succeeded, with the assistance of Rudolf of Hapsburg, in putting some check on the overweening power of Charles, which he did by increasing the power and importance of the papal families. His nepotism and his avarice induced Dante to find for him a place in Hell. The worldly-minded pontiff died on August 22, 1280, in his castle at Soriano, and, after an interval of party strife, was succeeded on February 22, 1281, by Martin IV, a friend of Charles, so that the French domination was established on a firmer footing.

But soon a conspiracy against the Angevin monarchy arose in Sicily, headed by John of Procida, the friend and physician of Manfred, who is said to have taken up the glove of Conradin in the market-place of Naples. He first addressed himself to Constance, the daughter of Manfred, and wife of Peter of Aragon, with a letter of recommendation from Pope Nicholas III; encouraged by her, he travelled secretly through Sicily, stirring up the island to revolt, with the aid of money from the court of Byzantium. On March 30, 1282, as a crowded congregation were gathered in the cathedral of Palermo at the vesper office of Easter Tuesday, a French soldier insulted an Italian girl, on the pretence of searching for arms. The chance match set light to a flame, a cry arose, "Death to the French!", the passionate desire for vengeance spread through the whole island, and thousands perished in the massacre, which still beaus the name of the Sicilian Vespers. Palermo declared its independence, and raised the imperial standard; the French garrison of Messina was burnt to death; and Charles had to face the task of reconquering the whole island.

No help could be expected from Martin IV, so the insurgents applied to Peter. At the end of August, the fleet of Aragon appeared before Trapani, and after two months the Spaniard became master of the island. In June 1283, Peter and Constance were crowned in Sicily. Palermo, and the government of the island was committed to John of Procida and Roger of Loria.

Charles was in great difficulties. While he was absent in Marseilles, collecting fresh fleet, his son Charles of Salerno was captured at sea by Roger of Loria, and was saved from the fate of Manfred and Conradin only by the intervention of Constance and Peter. These misfortunes so broke the spirit of Charles that he died at Foggia on January 7, 1284, and he was followed to the grave by Martin IV on March 28, and by Peter of Aragon on November 11, 1285.

As the eldest son of Charles was a prisoner, the government of Naples was undertaken by Robert of Artois. James of Aragon, the second son of Peter, was crowned king of Sicily at Palermo, and Roger of Loria exacted vengeance for Conradin by destroying the castle of Astura, and putting the son of the traitor Frangipani to death. Pope Honorius IV died after a short reign, and, after a year’s interval, a Franciscan friar was elected as his successor, under the title of Nicholas IV on February 22, 1288. At last, by the mediation of King Edward of England, the son of Charles of Anjou was released from captivity, and, in May 1289, was crowned by the pope in Rieti as king of the two Sicilies, under the title of Charles II.

We must complete the history of southern Italy before we return to that of Germany. Nicholas IV saw the power of the Decline of papacy gradually wane. The crown of Sicily came into the hands of Frederick of Aragon, the youngest son of Peter, the grandson of Manfred. Rome was torn by the factions of the Guelfs and Ghibellines, the first represented by the Orsini, the second by the Colonna. Republican principles and municipal government made their way into central Italy. After the death of Nicholas, on April 4, 1292, the throne of St. Peter remained vacant for a year, until it was filled by Celestine V, the son of a peasant of Molise, who had lived for years as a hermit in a cave in the hill of Murrone, close to Solmona. He was crowned with great pomp at Aquila, and lived in the palace of Charles II at Naples. He had been chosen for his piety, but he found himself entirely unfitted for the position and the business of the pontificate, and, after four months' phantom rule, he did the best action of his life in a voluntary abdication in December 1294, although it is a general opinion that Dante placed him in Hell for having been guilty of the “the great refusal”, the casting-off of public duties deliberately entrusted to him.

He was succeeded by one of the most vigorous of the Popes, Benedict Gaetani, who took the name of Boniface VIII.

Boniface immediately went to Rome, carrying with him the abject Celestine as a prisoner. When he escaped to his cave and the society of the Celestine Order which he had founded, Boniface dragged him out and imprisoned him in the castle of Fumone, where he soon afterwards died. Boniface endeavored to restore the power of the papacy, and began with Sicily, which, however, succeeded in preserving its independence under Frederick of Aragon. He then attacked the Colonna, whom he reduced to submission. Unable to conquer Frederick, he summoned to his assistance Charles of Valois, also count of Anjou, brother of Philip IV, king of France. Charles met Boniface at Anagni on September 3, 1301, and discussed with him and Charles II the possibility of subduing Frederick in Sicily. Before their arrangements were concluded, Charles of Valois marched into Florence and established there the authority of the Guelf party. At last peace was made between Charles II and Frederick, on condition that Frederick should marry Charles’ daughter Eleanore and reign for life as "King of Trinacria", and that the island should, after his death, pass to the house of Anjou, a condition which was never fulfilled.

The last two crusades, which are connected with the name and fortunes of Louis IX of France, arose from the conquests of the Mongolian leader, Genghis Khan, who, proclaiming himself emperor (1206), turned his End of the arms against the Charasmians and became master of Palestine. In 1248, Louis IX landed in Cyprus; next year he advanced to Egypt and took Damietta, but was afterwards defeated and made prisoner, and had to renounce his conquests. At last, after five years spent in the East, Louis returned to France in 1254, in consequence of the strong representations of his mother, Blanche of Castile, who had conducted the government in his absence. The last expedition of Louis to the East, in 1270, hardly deserves the name of crusade. It was undertaken with the object of separating the Saracens in Africa from those in Sicily, and preventing them from assisting each other. Louis died of fever at Tunis in August, and Charles of Anjou, who had hastened to assist him, found his brother a corpse.