Part 2

1198 - 1266

Frederick II - Conradin


The Royal Emblem

Other Emblems

Sicily Trinacria

Sicily Naples

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The Royal Emblem (continuation)


Frederick II, Hohenstaufen

*26.12.1194 - †12.12.1250

King of Rome 12.1196 - 08.09.1198

King of Sicily 17.05.1198 - 1250

Innocentius III, regent 1198-1209

Crowned 1209

King of Rome 1211/12 - 1220

Elected Neurenberg 09.1211

Elected Frankfurt 05.12.1212

Crowned Mainz, 09.12.1212

King of Germany 1212 - 1250

Crowned Aachen, 25.07.1215

 Roman Emperor 1220 - 1245/1250

Crowned Rome, 22.11.1220

King of Jeruzalem 09.11.1225

1st excommunication 29.09.1227-28.08.1230

Crowned Jeruzalem, 17.03.1229

2nd excommunication 20.03.1239

Deposed as an Emperor 17.07.1245

Henry VII


Conrad IV

Co-king of Sicily 02.1212

Roman King 1222-1235                                                                                      Elected Roman King 1237-1245/1254


When a young boy Frederick did not bear a coat of arms at all. A coin, struck in 1196 bears his name and an eagle but this is the eagle of his father whose portrait and name is on the obverse.

Denero of Henry VI and Frederick (II)

Crowned head and eagle. L.: R°: + E INPERATOR; V°:: +FREDERIC'REX


It is possible that on some bracteats from Germany he is depicted on horseback with a shield charged with an eagle at his arm but these bracteats are difficult to ascribe and dated exactly. Perhaps the bracteats were struck at the occasion of his coronation in Mainz.


Bracteat with rider on horseback

Crowned knight with shield charged with an eagle. Above the horses’ hind end the wheel of Mainz.  


A first piece showing an eagle is a pair of gloves which is supposed to have belonged to his coronation robes. [1]

Palm of a pair of gloves showing a nimbused eagle. The eagle itself on the right

(Wien, Weltliche Schatzkammer Inv. -Nr. XIII 11.)


These gloves are thought to have been a part of the coronation robes of 1220 when Frederick was crowned a Roman Emperor. It is also said that they were made in Palermo before 1220. In fact the eagle resembles very much the eagle of his father in that it has a halo around its head and can as well be somewhat older and were used at his coronation in 1212. This would imply that he bore the nimbused eagle from 1212 until 1215 (his second coronation) or when he was crowned emperor in 1220 he changed his style.

Seal of Henry of Isenburg Kobern, 1229

Showing an eagle of exactly the same style. [2]


His First or Second Coronation Robes ?


The fingers of the gloves are decorated with a diamond shaped grid enclosing little square crosses bottony. Such a grid is also on the cuffs of the alba belonging to the imperial treasury in Vienna, the grid enclosing little golden eagles. [3] Such a grid is also on the dalmatica he wears on his seal used when he was excommunicated for the first time (1227).




Little finger of glove

Square crosses bottony

Pattern of cuff


Eagle badge found in Mainz [4]

(about actual size)


Seal of Frederick II, after 1229.


1229+  Seal showing the emperor on his throne with crown, sceptre and globe. L.: X fridericvs di gra romanor imperator & sep avgvst / & rex  sicil & rex ierlm.


It’s true that the fragments of cloth used for the gloves and the cuffs have the grid of a small size. Nevertheless the gridded cloth may have been used for the dalmatica and the cuffs of the alba as shown on the seal. This would imply, as the eagles were of an oldfashioned design in 1229, that Frederick (being excommunicated and deprived of access to the treasury) was wearing his old robes at the time. Later, the clothes would have been used then for repairing the gloves and the decoration of the cuffs of the alba of the treasury.



A second time an eagle is depicted in connexion with Frederick II is on his seal of  1215 when he had been crowned in Aachen (at the age of 19). It shows him dressed in a dalmatica strewn with encircled eagles, this time without a halo.


Seal of Frederick II, 1215

The crowned king on his throne with a scepter with a cross on top and a globe. His dalmatica decorated with medallions charged with and eagle.  L.: X FRIDERICVS D(E)I : GR(ATI)A : ROMANOR(VM) : REX : ET . SE(M)P(ER) AVGVST(VS) . ET. REX : SICIL(IE). D.: 1215. [5]


This dalmatica may have been used until his coronation in 1220 when he was crowned an emperor and changed his style accordingly.

In 1220 many rulers of the Muslim world had a two-headed eagle as a badge of rank. It indicated about the rank of a caesar or commander of the army, be it not the emperor himself who dressed in purple and was not in the hierarchy of the army.

In fact, the western emperor was comparable with the former roman caesar of the western half of the empire and accordingly was called a Caesar, corrupted to ‘Kaiser’ in german languages and ‘Tsar’ in any slavic language.

Whatever may have been said of the coronation robes and Imperial Treasury of Frederick II, and they are enumerated in the letter of  transfer of 1246, one important piece, showing his badge as an emperor, is generally omitted.

Instead, the so-called Sicilian coronation mantle is called ‘den keyserlichen Mantel mit edelen Steynen’ (The Imperial Mantle with precious stones). [6]  Indeed, the real Imperial Mantle was then not a part of the treasury any more.

The real Imperial Mantle, if we may say so, is the so-called ‘Pluviale of Boniface VIII’, today kept in the treasury of Anagni Cathedral. It is of red cloth and strewn with roundels charged with golden two-headed eagles (of a design similar to the eagles on the gloves), griffins and pairs of eagles.


Photo Alessandro Jazeolla

Roundels on the ‘Pluviale of Boniface VIII’.



Pluviale of Boniface VIII, Anagni Cathedral.

Sicilian, 1st half 13th century. Embroidered red silk, 140 Í325 cm.


During Frederick's stay in the Holy Land, Pope Gregory IX recruited an army under John of Brienne and, in 1229, invaded southern Italy. His troops overcame an initial resistance at Montecassino, and reached Apulia. Frederick arrived at Brindisi in June 1229. He quickly recovered the lost territories and trialled the rebel barons, but avoided crossing the boundaries with the Papal States. The war was solved by the Treaty of San Germano in the summer of 1230; the emperor personally met Gregory IX at Anagni, making some concessions to the church in Sicily


From this time on the color of the two-headed eagle has been black on a golden background (Or, a two-headed eagle Sable). This meant that the its bearer was considered to be a (worldly-) vassal of the papacy as the colour black was the colour of religious authority. It meant also that the relation between the papacy and the emperor as of 1209-‘14 was restored, as Otto IV (according to Matthew Paris) also bore a black two-headed eagle on a golden field.

The new arms of Frederick II are documented by Matthew Paris:



1. Chronica Majora. Corp. Christi Coll. Ms 16. fol. 72 v. Frederick II’s letter to Henry III on his recovery of the Holy, 1229. Left margin: erect shield: Scutum Imperatoris; er onder: Scuti Campus Aureus, aquila nigra.


A few years later the arms were painted on a stained window in York Minster together with the arms of  the Pope and of the kings of England, France, Aragon, his son Henry VII, Castile, Jeruzalem and Navarre.


Imperial Arms in York Minster: a black two-headed eagle on a yellow background


And again by Matthew Paris:

2. Chronica Majora  Ms, fol. 242. Death of Frederick II, 1250: right margin: inverted shield (Or, a double headed eagle Sable)


3. Historia Anglorum, B.L. Ms. Roy. 14.C.VII, fol. 149. Death of Frederick II, 1250. Lower right margin: (Or, a double headed eagle Sable): Corona Ierusalem en Corona Sicili­ae, with the addition Hec sunt adeptae. Lower down: three more inverted closed crowns with long rubric descriptions of the gold crown of the Romans, the silver crown of the Germans and the iron crown of Italy. [7]



Since then, until the end of the 15th century, the arms of the Roman Emperor have been: Or, a two-headed eagle sable. Often it was called the arms of the German Emperor which may be correct in that it was an upgrading of the arms of the German King which indeed was a black single-headed eagle on a golden field. It would mean that Frederick II had given up his claims to be the emperor of the whole Western Roman Empire and contented himself to be an Emperor of Germany only.

In the 16th century they became the arms of the German Nation of the Holy Roman Empire.


At the same time the single-headed Sicicilian eagle seems to have been reintroduced, demonstrating that the Empire and the kingdom were separated.


Sicilian denero, Messina 1229-1266

Square cross and eagle. L.: R° + F.ROM.IMP'SEP.AVG, V°.: R.IERLSL.'ET SICIL',


This eagle was black on a white background which are the colours of the papal pallium (white, black crosses patée), indicating that Sicily was considered to be a papal property.



The arms: Argent, an eagle Sable, are documented by Giovanni Villani in his Historia Fiorentine for the Battle of Parma in 1248, but he was writing more than fifty years after the event. [8]



A contemporay source is the Bigot Roll of Arms (1254) which writes: Le Marquis de Misse, l’escu blanc a une aigle noire. Alemans et baneres. [9]


* This can be explained by the fact that Albrecht the Degenerate (des Entarteten) of Meissen had a claim on Sicily through his wife (or fiancée) Margaretha von Staufen who was a daughter of Frederick II (and a half-sister of Conrad IV) and had been promised by Conrad VI to be his heir in case his son (Conradin) would die before he could succeed him. Probably Albrecht had the ambition to be the guardian of Conradin but instead Manfred was appointed. [10] 


Conrad I (IV)

* 25.04.1228-†21.05.1254

Duke of Swabia 1235

King of Jeruzalem 1236

Elected Roman King, Vienna 02.1237 & Speyer, 07.1237

King of Sicily 1250


In 1253 he called himself: In romanorum regem electus, semper augustus, Jeruzalem et Sicilie rex.



His arms were, according to Matthew Paris:


Abbreviatio Chronicorum B.L. Ms. Cotton Claudius D. VI, fol. 95 v°:  Death of Conrad, King of Sicily, 1254 (3:338): inverted shield (or, a double eagle sable and in chief a crescent gules enclosing a small roundel gules): Scutum Conradi regis Siculorum. cf. CM, fol 164 v.


Chronica Majora  B.L. Ms. Roy. 14.C.VII, fol. 164v°: Death of Conrad of  Sicily, 1254 (5:459) - right margin: inverted shield (or, a double eagle sable sable and in chief a crescent gules enclosing a small roundel gules) above a reversed crown. [11]


This, in fact are his arms as a son of Frederick II according to his title in 1246: Divi augusti imperatoris Friderici Filius, dei gratia romanorum in regem electus, semper augustus, et hæres regni Jeruzalemiæ.


...but, as the coins of his father ware minted until 1266, his arms (as a king) of Sicily were also a single-headed eagle.



*1232 - † 26.02.1266

Regent of  Sicily 1254-1258

King of Sicily, Palermo, 10.08.1258

Lord of Florence 1260-1266


Conrad IV had provided in his will that Sicily should be adminstered after his death by a german bailiff in the name of his son Conradin who was with his mother Elisabeth of Bavaria at the time. Pope Innocent IV however, exercizing his sovereign rights, granted the kingdom to prince Edward of England and summoned Manfred, who was a legitimized son of Frederick II, to render  the kingdom to him. A war resulted and Manfred was excommunicated. Confronted with the growing power of Manfred however, the Holy See negotiated a compromise: a representative of the pope crossed the border symbolically to confirm his rights as a suzerein, and on the other hand the rights of Conradin were recognized and Manfred was reinstalled in his fiefs with the title of ‘Vicar of the Church in Basilicata and Apulia’. Soon after, still in his quality of a regent for Conradin, he conquered the army of the bailiff  Von Hohenberg. In 1258, putting aside 4-years old Conradin,  he let himself be crowned in Palermo as a King of Sicily and Apulia.

According to Matthew Paris Manfred bore the arms of Frederick II augmented with a fess Argent as a mark of cadency when the nobles paid homage to him in 1254.



Chronica Majora B.L. Ms Roy. 14.C.VII fol. 165: Nobles pay Homage to Manfred, 1254 (5:460) - bottom left margin: erect shield (or,a double eagle sable and over all a fess argent): Scutum principis Memfredus - Mortuo Conrado filio Fretherici imperatoris suscitur Memfredus filius eiusdem Fretherici naturalis in ecclesiæ Romanæ persecutionem. [12]




Abbreviatio Chronicorum. B.L. Ms Cotton Claudius D.VI fol. 96: Nobles of Apulia Pay Homage to Manfred as Their King, 1254 (3:338): erect shield (or, a double eagle sable and over all a fess argent): Memfredus creatus est; cf. CM, fol. 165 (Hand A) [13]


And this may have been his arms as a regent for Conradin.


The coins with the single-headed eagle were also struck by Manfred:


Denero of Manfred: Eagle and square cross.

R°: +MANFRIDVS,. V° +.REX.SICILIE,. Struck in Messina or Brindisi.[14]


As a king he bore: Argent, an eagle Sable.


This is documented by a written contemporary source.

In the books of San Gimignano about the expenses done for the campaign of Manfred against Lucca the entry of 1261 reads: consent of the expenses 1. for shields “quos pinxit pro communi de armis dom. regis (Manfred) pro eis portandis in exercitu contra Lucensis” (808a); and payment for the cloth of several banners and “1½ brachia zendadi nigri, de quo facta est imago huius aquile in insignia dictio pavensis” (1½ ells of black cloth from which the eagles on the shields mentioned were made); payment for the parchment from which the eagle was cut, insignia pavensis (808d); payment for the making of a banner of white cloth with black eagles (813c).[15]


On 28 of June 1265 Pope Clemens IV granted the the kingdom to Charles of Anjou.  On 26 February  1266 Charles defeated and killed Manfred at Benevento. According to Villani Manfred had a silver eagle on his armoury at this battle. When this fell off because of a jump of his horse he had considered that as a bad omen and he had said: Hoc est signum Dei (This is a sign of God) [16]


Banners and shields with a black eagle can be seen in the “Historia Florentine” of Giovanni Villani († 1348) [17]

Giovanni Villani: Manfred fleeing for Charles of Anjou 1266.


Conrad II (Conradin) 


Duke of Swabia, Urach, 04.1254

King of Sicily and Jerusalem 21.05.1254

Inaugurated as a duke of Swabia 1262


Young Conradin, who was the next pretender after the killing of Manfred, neither proved to be a  succesfull adversary of Charles. He was defeated, 16 years old, at Tagliacozzo on 23 August 1268 and beheaded in Naples on 29 October 1268.


From his early ‘reign’ a royal seal is preserved showing him on his throne with crown, lily sceptre and orb and surrounded by the legend: CHVNRADI DEI GRATIA IERVSALEM ET SICILIE REX, DVX SWEVIE  [18]


During his short action Conradin used the arms with the eagle as well as the cross of Jeruzalem. At the battle of Tagliacozzo he had two banners: the vexillum crucis and the aquila. [19]. Also, on a coin with the legend: C(onradus) SECUNDUS X R(ex) IER(rosolimæ) ET SICIL(iæ) there is an eagle to the sinister. [20]

Apparently he crucis was a white pointed cross bottony on a golden field, matching his title of King of Jeruzalem. The aquila certainly was the black eagle on a white field.


The arms Argent and eagle Sable were also adopted by the Aragonese kings of Sicily.


In the Kingdom of Sicily of Charles of Anjou the black eagle, which was a detested Hohenstaufen emblem, was not seen any more. 


The Royal Emblems are continued in


Æ Sicily Naples


Other Emblems




Achievements with griffins as supporters cannot be ascribed to any office in the Norman Sicilian  context. Some examples of Sicilian griffin achievements however are known.


Achievement of two griffins supporting flowers.

On the throne in the nave of Monreale Cathedral (after 1172).


Griffins supporting a palm-tree on an ivory panel.

12th century. Southern Sicily. Museo nazionale del Bargello, Florence, inv. nr. 83 C.


The griffin, a hybrid of an eagle and a lion, can be associated with the Byzantine rank of turmarch or commander of half a legion (varying from 4,000 to 2,400 man). In the 12th century some Imperial chancelors had a griffin as a badge of rank and still later a griffin was the emblem of an archduke.




Achievements of lions supporting the Sicilian Tree are known from the throne in Monreale Cathedral, from the Palce of the Normans in Palermo and from the famous socalled Sicilian Coronation Mantle.


Sicilian Coronation Mantle, 1133/’34

Weltliche Schatzkammer Wien, inv. nr. xiii 14.


This mantle is a part of the ceremonial robes of Admiral George of Antiochia († 1151) as explained in my article The Sicilian Coronation Mantle from a Heraldic point of View.


Lions supporting a palm-tree in the Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo

This mosaic may refer to the office of George of Antiochia


Lions supporting a floral motif

On the tympann of the throne in the nave of Monreale Cathedral (after 1172)


The throne was probably meant to be the seat of the vice-chancellor (later chancellor) Matteo d’Ajello († 1193)


Heraldic Shields


Usually the shields of the Sicilian warriors were of the Byzantine type, circular and decorated with al kinds of devices. In the 12th century the shield of Norman pointed shape was apparently introduced and these could be decorated with a badge of rank. Two of such shields are known: the first showing an eagle reguardant [proper], the second a lion rampant.

A late 11th century Norman general of the mainland could have looked like the man bearing the shield with an eagle.


In te time of King Tancred the lion was also on shields. The are in the hands of the commanders of the troops of Naples, Capua and Salerno as illustrated by Petrus de Ebulo. .[21]


The Count of Acerra wounded by and arrow.





Archer-centaurs and panthers may have been other emblems of the military hierarchy. The centaurs for example may have been the emblem of the Master of the (Saracene) Archers and the panthers the emblem of the master of some other military division.





Peacocks are usually the emblem of a prefect or highest ranking civil official. As such it was the emblem of many civil officials in the Roman and Byzantine Empires. Often they served as the supporters of a christogram, the emblem of christian armed authority, suggesting that the prefect had also a military supervision. Here they serve as the supporters of the tree symbolizing the territory of Sicily.





A stag (not to be confused with a hind) usually is the emblem of a religious teacher or psychopompos (the Greek word for “guide of souls”). As such it was at some time the symbol of the patriarchs of Rome and Alexandria and appeared to the saints Eustace and Hubert before their conversion to christianity. In the Sicilian context it may have been the emblem of the Archbishop of Palermo, perhaps Gualtiero Offamiglio (1168 – 1191).



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© Hubert de Vries 2012-11-22


[1] Nobiles Officinæ. Palermo, 2003-2004. N° 72, pp. 279-280.

[2] Die Zeit der Staufer, Kat. n° 76, Abb 25.

[3] Ibid. Nr. 68. p. 266-272.

[4] Die Zeit der Staufer, Kat.   604. Found 1885 on the site of Mainz.  Hauptbahnhof.  Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Inv.-Nr. Kg  31:10

[5] Die Zeit der Staufer, Kat.   48. Darmstadt Hessisches Staatsarchiv, Urk. Oberhessen, A 3 Mörlein 1218, Juli 12 (A) (BF 939).

[6] Document of King Conrad IV of 17.09.1246 written in Trifels, the castle where the Imperial regalia were kept.  Published by Huillard de Bréholles, J.L.A.: Historia dipl. Frederici II., VI, 2, Paris 1861, 878-879. And cited in Nobiles Officinæ, p. 325.

[7] Lewis, Suzanne: The Art of Matthew Paris in the Chronica Majora. Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1987. pp. 450, 456, 466. Also:  Seyler Geschichte p. 282. Id. Siebm. p. 2.

[8] Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome, Ms. Chigiano lviii 296 (Cronaca del Villani)

[9] Brault, Gerard J.Eight Thirteenth-Century Rolls of Arms in French and Anglo-Norman Blazon. The Pennsylvania State University Press. University Park and London, 1973. BA 13

[10] About this heritage: Die Zeit der Staufer III, 1977,  pp. 7-19..

[11] Both quotes from Lewis op. cit.

[12] the ‘Mortuo Conradio filio’ is referring to the gossip that Manfred had maintained that Conradin had died.

[13] Lewis op.cit.

[14] Pictures of coins:

[15] Davidsohn, R.: Forschungen zur Geschichte von Florenz. Berlin 1890 pp. 113-114.

[16] Deér, Josef: Adler aus der Zeit Friedrichs II.: Victrix Aquila. In: Schramm, P.E.: Kaiser Friedrichs II Herrschaftszeichen. Göttingen, 1955, pp. 88-124 Taf. XXVI-XLII. p. 123.

[17] Biblioteca Vaticana, Rome, Ms. Chigiano lviii 296 (Cronaca del Villani) fol. 103. Publ.: Racheli, Triest, 1857.  Also observed by  Gritzner, 1902, p. 61.

[18] Die Zeit der Staufer. N° 58 Abb. 28.

[19] Annales Placentini Gibellini, in SS.XVIII, 528

[20] In the Kgl. Münzkabinett Berlin. according to Gritzner E. op.cit. 1902, p. 62.

[21] Ebulo, Petrus de: op.cit.  Fol. 16. Riccardo of Acerra was a brother of Queen Sibilla, wife of Tancred. He was cruelly executed in 1196 and succeeded by Diepold von Schweinspoint.