Conradin or Conrad the Younger (March 25, 1252 - October 29, 1268), duke of Swabia, titular king of Jerusalem and king of Sicily, son of the German king Conrad IV, and of Elizabeth, daughter of Otto II duke of Bavaria, was born at Wolfstein in Bavaria. Having lost his father in 1254 he grew up at the court of his uncle and guardian, Louis II, duke of Bavaria .
We know little of his appearance and character except that he was "beautiful as Absalom, and spoke good Latin." Although his father had entrusted him to the guardianship of the church, Pope Innocent IV pursued Conradin with relentless hatred and attempted to bestow the kingdom of Sicily on a foreign prince. Innocent's successor, Pope Alexander IV, continued this policy, offered the Hohenstaufen lands in Germany to Alfonso X, king of Castile, and forbade Conradin's election as king of the Romans.
Having assumed the title of king of Jerusalem and Sicily, Conradin took possession of the duchy of Swabia in 1262, and remained for some time in his dukedom. Conradin's first invitation to Italy came from the Guelphs of Florence, who asked him to take arms against Manfred, who had been crowned king of Sicily in 1258. Louis refused this invitation on his nephew's behalf, but after Manfred's fall in 1266 envoys from the Ghibelline cities came to Bavaria and urged Conradin to come and free Italy. Pledging his lands, he crossed the Alps and issued a manifesto at Verona setting forth his claim on Sicily.
Notwithstanding the defection of his uncle Louis and of other companions who returned to Germany, the threats of Pope Clement IV, and a lack of funds, his cause seemed to prosper. Proclaiming him king of Sicily, his partisans both in the north and south of Italy took up arms; Rome received his envoy with enthusiasm; and the young king himself received welcomes at Pavia and Pisa. In November 1267 the Church excommunicated him; but his fleet won a victory over that of Charles, duke of Anjou, who had taken possession of Sicily on Manfred's death; and in July 1268 Conradin himself met with immense enthusiasm at Rome.
Having strengthened his forces, he marched towards Lucera to join the Saracens. On August 23, 1268 he encountered the troops of Charles at Tagliacozzo , but the eagerness of his soldiers to obtain plunder gave the victory to the French. Escaping from the field of battle, Conradin reached Rome, but acting on advice to leave the city he proceeded to Astura , where he was seized and handed over to Charles of Anjou. At Naples he was tried as a traitor, and on October 29, 1268 was beheaded with his friend and companion Frederick of Baden, titular duke of Austria.
With Conradin's death the legitimate Hohenstaufen line became extinct. His remains, with those of Frederick of Baden, lie in the church of the monastery of Santa Maria del Carmine at Naples, founded by his mother for the good of his soul; and here in 1847 Maximilian, crown prince of Bavaria, erected a marble statue by Thorvaldsen to his memory. In the 14th century Codex Manesse, a collection of medieval German lyrics, preserved at Heidelberg, there appear two songs written by Conradin, and his fate has formed the subject of several dramas.
- F. W. Schirrmacher, Die letzten Hohenstaufen (Göttingen, 1871)
- K. Hampe, Geschichte Konradins von Hohenstaufen (Berlin, 1893)
- del Giudice, Il Giudizio e la condanna di Corradino (Naples, 1876)
- E. Miller, Konradin von Hohenstaufen (Berlin, 1897)
G. Hood, The Coming of the Demons (New York, 1982).