translated by G.A. Loud
This is the first English translation of the main contemporary accounts of the Crusade and death of the German Frederick I Barbarossa (ruled 1152-90). The most important of these, the 'History of the Expedition of the Emperor Frederick' was written soon after the events described, and is a crucial, and under-used source for the Third Crusade (at least in the Anglophone world). The account begins with two letters describing the disaster of Hattin and Saladin's subsequent conquest of most of the Holy Land (the second of these is addressed to the duke of Austria). It goes on to describe how the emperor took the Cross, the preparations and recruitment for the Crusade, the diplomatic contacts of Barbarossa with the Byzantine Emperor and the Sultan of Iconium in an attempt to secure a peaceful passage for the expedition, and the Crusade itself: the journey through the Balkans and the gruelling march through Asia Minor, beset by Turkish attack, until its arrival at Antioch on 21st July 1190, eleven days after the emperor had drowned while crossing a river in Cilician Armenia. The 'History' gives a vivid account of the sufferings of the German army as it traversed Asia Minor.
The account of the expedition itself appears to be, or to be based upon an eyewitness record, cast in the form of (often) a daily memoir. However, it concludes with an account of the captivity and release of Richard I in Germany, Henry VI's conquest of the kingdom of Sicily, and of the preparations for a new Crusade under his leadership. In addition, a number of further accounts related to, and expanding, the 'History of the Expedition' have also been translated, including a contemporary newsletter about the death of the emperor, as well as the narrative of Otto of St Blasien, placing the Crusade into context twenty years later, and a contemporary account of the capture of Silves in Portugal by German crusaders on their way to the Holy Land in 1189.This collectionis a valuable companion volume to the three other volumes relating to the Third Crusade in this series: The Conquest of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade, trans. Edbury, the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, trans. Nicholson, and The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin, trans. Richards.