The Imperial Legacy in Limbo, Scholarly debates on the origins of modernity with Frederick II Hohenstaufen
MetadataShow full item record
Type of WorkText
Citation of Original PublicationGaliffa, N. R. (2016). The Imperial Legacy in Limbo, Scholarly debates on the origins of modernity with Frederick II Hohenstaufen (Master's thesis). Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD.
The enclosed study will entail a detailed exploration into the modern historiography behind the Hohenstaufen emperor and king of Sicily, Frederick II (r. 1198-1250). Three main texts will be examined from across the German and English-speaking worlds of scholarship and ranging widely in their times of publication—that of Kantorowicz (1927), Van Cleve (1972), and lastly Abulafia (1988). In addition, several supplementary texts on the subject from both cultural-linguistic traditions have been included. Prior to the heart of the textual analysis, a comprehensive summary of the dominant Western philosophical views that forged the twentieth-century scholarship on the matter is given in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the intellectual climate in which these historians participated. The primary argument around which the scholarship centers is the position of the emperor and his reforms in the history of Western civilization. While it has been found that in the German scholarship historians tend to adhere to an often idealized image of the emperor as proto-modern state-builder and forward-thinking monarch, the Anglophone academic circles have maintained suspicion from the start. Further claims that Frederick was the progenitor or even single catalyst for the cultural and political rebirth of the Italian Renaissance (some, as will be seen, going as far as to place him in anticipation of Protestantism) appear to have driven English-speaking scholars in Britain and North America to hone and refine their arguments over the years until a suitable critical alternative to the German-speaking world’s Romantic-ideal could be offered. The debates surrounding Frederick II rarely enter into any rudimentary collegiate discourse on the Middle Ages or Early Modernity. With an identification and delineation of these tendencies and arguments among the world’s foremost scholars regarding Frederick’s role in inspiring both the political developments as well as the cultural interests of the Italian Renaissance one can hope to stimulate further interest in whether or not the Hohenstaufen emperor exemplifies the germs of modernity or is simply an unconscious and insignificant continuation of the medieval world.