Subtle link between Federico II, Corrado of Antioch and Piglio

Who would not want to have a connection with the great Frederick II of Swabia, the man who changed the course of history in Italy? Piglio has its link through his grandson, Corrado of Antioch, son of Frederick of Antioch, in turn son of Frederick II, who ruled several counties in from late 1200s to early 1300s.

These are the difficult years of the struggles between the papacy and empire and the between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and Frederick II was obviously on the side of worldly power of the Emperor. He came from Swabia, which now includes part of the present-day Bavaria, German Switzerland, and Austria and the Swabians had already had Federico Barbarossa, the great emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The state was to be torn apart by the death of Corradino di Swabia, son of Federico II, after which many of his descendants were to go to govern states and principalities in various parts of Europe.

But who was Corrado (Conrad) of Antioch (1242 – 1320)?

A good mix of blood for this gentleman and leader came from his mother who was a grandaughter of Pope Innocent III, the pope who was originally from these parts between Anagni and Gavignano.

Corrado was released or escaped from prison four times and was excommunicated three times but died of old age and founded his own dynasty in the nearby Aniene Valley where a town still remembers it with his name Anticoli Corrado. In the end he also reconciled with the church of Rome, while remaining consistent with his ideas on the division of powers.

His connection with Piglio and the territory between the Ernici range and the Aniene Valley started with the death of his father in 1256 when he took these lands as feudal count as well as possessions in Abruzzo and Calabria.

He married and had 8 children of whom 2 became archbishops of Palermo and two were married to members of the important family of the Scala of Verona.

Under the assignment of his uncle Manfredi, the king of Sicily, Corrado embarked on a series of wars in Marche that led him to be captured during the Battle of Treia. Corrado managed to escape through a subterfuge and immediately recommenced his battles notwithstanding a first excommunication by Pope Urban IV.

When the Anjou arrived in Naples, Corrado tried to establish a good relationship with them but was opposed and for this reason found a particular friend in Pope Clement IV who wanted him as a mediator with the Neapolitan rulers. Carlo d’Angiò, however, did not support Corrado and locked him in prison from which he managed to escape with skill.

A fresh excommunication came for support to Uncle Corradino of Swabia and new imprisonment in Palestrina after the tragic battle of Tagliacozzo. Once again Corrado owed his release to the Pope who wanted to hold him to trade for release of his brothers.

In 1272, the new pope Gregory X freed him for his oath of fidelity and restored the fief of Anticoli. In the same year, however, Frederick II’s last son died and Corrado found himself with the Molise County and went to Isernia to continue the struggle for power between the papacy and the empire.

A new excommunication was inevitable in 1282 by Pope Martino IV and in that period Corrado succeeded in the particular situation of being unwanted by both the pope and Carlo d’Angiò of Naples, from whom in the meantime he continued to ‘steal’ territories in Abruzzo.

His refuge was always close to the current Anticoli Corrado and Piglio and in his fortress of Anticoli he retired after the last defeat with the papal troops.