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Philip of Swabia (1177-1208), German king and duke of Swabia, the rival of the emperor Otto IV, was the fifth and youngest son of the emperor Frederick I and Beatrix, daughter of Renaud III, count of Upper Burgundy, and consequently brother of the emperor Henry VI. He entered the church, was made provost of Aix-la-Chapelle, and in 1190 or 1191 was chosen bishop of Würzburg. Having accompanied his brother Henry to Italy in 1191, Philip forsook his ecclesiastical calling, and, travelling again to Italy, was made duke of Tuscany in 1195 and received an extensive grant of lands. In 1196 he became duke of Swabia, on the death of his brother Conrad; and in May 1197 he married Irene, daughter of the eastern emperor, Isaac II, and widow of Roger III, Titular King of Sicily, a lady who is described by Walther von der Vogelweide as " the rose without a thorn, the dove without guile."
Philip enjoyed his brother's confidence to a very great extent, and appears to have been designated as guardian of the young Frederick, afterwards the emperor Frederick II, in case of his father's early death. In 1197 he had set out to fetch Frederick from Sicily for his coronation when he heard of the emperor's death and returned at once to Germany. He appears to have desired to protect the interests of his nephew and to quell the disorder which arose on Henry's death, but events were too strong for him. The hostility to the kingship of a child was growing, and after Philip had been chosen as defender of the empire during Frederick's minority he consented to his own election. He was elected German king at Muhlhausen on March 8, 1198, and crowned at Mainz on the September 8 following.
Meanwhile a number of princes hostile to Philip, under the leadership of Adolph, archbishop of Cologne, had elected an anti-king in the person of Otto, second son of Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony. In the war that followed, Philip, who drew his principal support from south Germany, met with considerable success. In 1199 he received further accessions to his party and carried the war into his opponent's territory, although unable to obtain the support of Pope Innocent III, and only feebly assisted by his ally Philip Augustus, king of France. The following year was less favourable to his arms; and in March 1201 Innocent took the decisive step of placing Philip and his associates under the ban, and began to work energetically in favour of Otto.
Also in 1201, Philip was visited by his cousin Boniface of Montferrat, the leader of the Fourth Crusade. The Crusaders were by this time under Venetian control and were besieging Zara on the Adriatic Sea. Although Boniface's exact reasons for meeting with Philip are unknown, while at Philip's court he also met Alexius Angelus, Philip's brother-in-law. Alexius convinced Boniface, and later the Venetians, to divert the Crusade to Constantinople and restore Isaac II to the throne, as he had recently been deposed by Alexius III, Alexius and Irene's uncle.
The two succeeding years were still more unfavourable to Philip. Otto, aided by Ottokar I, king of Bohemia, and Hermann I, landgrave of Thuringia, drove him from north Germany, thus compelling him to seek by abject concessions, but without success, reconciliation with Innocent. The submission to Philip of Hermann of Thuringia in 1204 marks the turning-point of his fortunes, and he was soon joined by Adolph of Cologne and Henry I, Duke of Brabant.
On January 6, 1205 he was crowned again with great ceremony by Adolph at Aix-la-Chapelle, though it was not till 1207 that his entry into Cologne practically brought the war to a close. A month or two later Philip was loosed from the papal ban, and in March 1208 it seems probable that a treaty was concluded by which a nephew of the pope was to marry one of Philip's daughters and to receive the disputed dukedom of Tuscany. Philip was preparing to crush the last flicker of the rebellion in Brunswick-Lüneburg when he was murdered at Bamberg, on June 21, 1208, by Otto of Wittelsbach, count palatine in Bavaria, to whom he had refused the hand of one of his daughters. He left no sons, but four daughters; one of whom, Beatrix, afterwards married his rival, the emperor Otto IV. Philip was a brave and handsome man, and contemporary writers, among whom was Walther von der Vogelweide, praise his mildness and generosity.
See W. von Giesebrecht, Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit, Bd. V. (Leipzig, 1888); E. Winkelmann, Philipp von Schwaben und Otto IV. von Braunschweig (Leipzig, 1873-1878); O. Abel, Konig Philipp der Hohenstaufen (Berlin, 1852); Regesta imperil. V., edited by J. Picker (Innsbruck, 1881); R. Schwemer, Innocenz III und die deutsche Kirche wahrend des Thronstreites von 1198-1208 (Strassburg, 1882); and R. Riant, Innocent III, Philippe de Souabe, et Boniface de Montferrat (Paris, 1875).
This text is originally from the 1911 Britannica.
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Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor