Conrad IV Hohenstaufen, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, died on this day in 1254. He was a member of the German Hohenstaufen dynasty, which originated from Swabia and was named after a castle east of Stuttgart. Despite his German heritage, the center of the Empires power in the 13th century was southern Italy, since the Holy Roman Emperors were also the kings of Sicily, one of the wealthiest parts of Europe during that time.
Conrad was born in Andria in southern Italy, where his father’s impressive hunting lodge, the Castel del Monte, was located. Conrad inherited the title King of Jerusalem through his maternal line (the title referred to the crusader kingdom in the Holy Land) and also ruled over Sicily.
He spent most of his childhood in southern Italy, visiting Germany for the first time only in 1235. When his father died in 1250, Conrad IV inherited a whole complex of lands and titles, which were added to those he had inherited from his mother. Conrad IV thus became the ruler of territories stretching from the North Sea to the Baltic and from the southern tip of Sicily to the Holy Land. He died in 1254, aged only 26, and no later ruler managed to unite these lands under his rule again.