House of Hohenstaufen

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The House of Hohenstaufen (or the Staufer) was a dynasty of German kings lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufen also became Kings of Sicily. Staufen, the adjective and plural of Staufer, is also the name of their castle in Swabia built by the first known member of the dynasty, Frederick I, Duke of Swabia. Therefore the dynasty is sometimes called Swabian dynasty after the family's ducal origin. Hohenstaufen Castle is located on a mountain of the same name near Göppingen.

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Origins as dukes of Swabia

In 1079, King Henry IV appointed the Hohenstaufen Frederick von Staufer as duke of Swabia. At the same time, Frederick was engaged to the king's approximately seven-year old daughter, Agnes. Nothing is known about Frederick's life before this event. He proved to be a close ally of Henry IV in his struggle against other Swabian lords, namely Rudolf of Rheinfelden (the previous duke), and the Zähringen and Welf lords. Frederick's brother Otto became bishop of Strasbourg in 1082.

Frederick I was succeeded by his son Frederick II in 1105. Frederick II remained a close ally of the kings, and he and his brother Conrad were named the king's representatives in Germany when the king was in Italy. Around 1120, Frederick II married Judith of Bavaria from the rival House of Welf.

Coat of arms

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