Sixth Crusade Failure 1228 *Emperor Frederick II

The 6th Crusade was a military campaign organized mainly by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.

The campaign took place in 1228 and was the first Crusade in Europe to have been launched without the direct support of the Papacy.

The Crusade came about as a result of Frederick’s promise to the Papacy that he would go on the crusade. However, differences with the Papacy led to Frederick’s excommunication in 1227.

Despite this, he launched the Sixth Crusade on his own in 1228 and set the precedent for crusading campaigns independent of the Pope.

Sixth Crusade Background

By the beginning of the 13th century, Jerusalem and other territorial gains made during early Crusades by the European armies had been lost.

At the time, the Ayyubids had control of the region, projecting influence from their power base in Egypt.

The Papacy encouraged the launch of the Fifth Crusade in 1213 but it didn’t alter European fortune in the Holy Lands. Almost immediately after the failure of the Fifth Crusade in 1221, the Pope began pushing for another military campaign to the Holy Lands.

Al Kamil Sixth Crusades

Al Kamil in Battle during Sixth Crusade

Frederick II’s Stakes in Sixth Crusade

Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, had promised the Pope that he would participate in the Sixth Crusade.

He made the pledge to Pope Honorius III who had crowned him as the emperor in 1220.

However, he delayed any efforts to fulfill the pledge until 1227. By this time, he had a claim to the former Kingdom of Jerusalem through his marriage.

He consequently launched an initial military campaign in 1227 but was forced to give up the campaign due to an epidemic breakout. He launched the campaign again the next year and it came to be known as the Sixth Crusade.

Role of the Papacy

The Papacy had been the most potent organizers of religious crusades in Europe until at least the Fifth Crusade.

After the failure of the Fifth Crusade, the Papacy continued to push European kings and rulers to rally for another Crusade.

However, it was independent of this call that Frederick II decided to undertake the Sixth Crusade. In fact, Pope Gregory IX had excommunicated Frederick due to his failed campaign in 1227.

In 1228, Frederick launched the Sixth Crusade without the support of the Papacy.

This set the tradition that European monarchs and barons could launch Crusades without the express support of the reigning Pope.

Beginning of Sixth Crusade

Most of the soldiers and nobles fighting for the Sixth Crusade came from Frederick II’s Italian and German lands.

Frederick was consequently the undisputed leader of the Sixth Crusade and he set sail for Syria in 1228.

Before the Crusader fleet could reach the Holy Land, Frederick decided to make a stop at Cyprus where he aimed to reassert imperial authority. He did this by forcing the regent of Cyprus, John of the Ibelin faction, to give up his regency and accept Frederick’s authority.

By doing so, Frederick was able to temporarily establish direct control in Cyprus.

However, the imperial control on the island would be short-lived and yet it caused Frederick the loss of the support of the Ibelin faction.

Arrival in Holy Lands

When the army of the Sixth Crusade left Cyprus and reached Acre, they received a mixed response from the local population.

Due to Pope Gregory’s excommunication of Frederick and Frederick’s treatment of John of Ibelin, support for his Crusade had waned significantly.

This was especially so because Patriarch Gerald in Acre following Papal policy towards Frederick and refused to lend him support.

This effectively made it impossible for Frederick to amass a sufficient army and defeat the Muslim rule in Jerusalem.

He consequently decided to have the matter resolved diplomatically.

Diplomatic Negotiations

In an attempt to have the matter resolved diplomatically, Frederick II met the Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt, Al-Kamil, who also had effective control of Jerusalem.

Frederick II could speak Arabic and maintain highly favorable opinion of the Saracens.

These both contributed significantly to the goodwill he was able to arouse in al-Kamil and his court.

Al-Kamil was also engaged in suppressing a rebellion in Syria at the time. So he took the opportunity to hand over Jerusalem and many neighboring territories to Frederick.

At the same time, Muslims retained control of the Temple Mount and other holy sites in the city.

The compromise effectively made it possible for Frederick to take control of Jerusalem and achieve the aims of the Sixth Crusade without any fighting at all.

Important Facts of Sixth Crusade:

  • The Sixth Crusade was launched in 1228 and continued until March, 1229.
  • Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, led the Sixth Crusade.
  • The Sixth Crusade was not supported by the Papacy.
  • Its leader, Frederick II, was excommunicated.
  • Before the Sixth Crusade, a failed military campaign was launched in 1227 by Frederick II.
  • Its failure caused the Pope to excommunicate Frederick.

Sixth Crusade Fast Facts

  • The 6th Crusade Crusade succeeded in March, 1229 and the city of Jerusalem came under Christian control.
  • Knights Templar, Teutonic Knights and Knights Hospitaller were among the orders of the knighthood who participated in the 6th Crusade.
  • The Christian armies in the 6th Crusade were led by Frederick II.
  • The Muslim armies were led by al-Kamil.
  • Frederick II was crowned King of Jerusalem after his diplomatic successes in the 6th Crusade.
  • Success in the 6th Crusade brought Jerusalem, Sidon, Jaffa, Bethlehem and Nazareth under Christian control.

Sixth Crusade Fast Facts

  • The 6th Crusade resulted in a ten-year peace treaty between Ayyubids and Crusaders. This treaty would last from 1229 to 1239.
  • Although Crusaders gained control of Jerusalem after the Crusade, holy sites in the city remained under Muslim control.
  • Frederick II, who led the Crusade, had a claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem through his marriage to Yolande of Jerusalem.
  • The 6th Crusade paved the way for the Barons’ Crusade which began in 1239.
  • The 6th Crusade was the first time a religious Crusade in Europe was launched without the support of the Papacy.
  • Patriarch Gerald of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem did not support Frederick II.
Sixth Crusade Holy Roman Empire

Holy Roman Empire Sixth Crusade

Restoration of the Kingdom of Jerusalem

Following the success of diplomatic negotiations with the Saracens, the Crusaders under Frederick II were able to enter Jerusalem in March, 1229.

Frederick then proceeded to have himself crowned the King of Jerusalem, although Patriarch Gerald refused to crown him and lend ecclesiastical support to the event.


The treaty between al-Kamil and Frederick ratified ten years of truce between the Crusaders and the Saracens.

Following the expiry of the treaty, the Ayyubids were no longer beholden to honor Christian control of Jerusalem.

Pope Gregory IX consequently called for a new crusade in 1239 with an aim of maintaining Christian rule in the Holy Lands.

The Sixth Crusade also demonstrated that a religious war by a European army could be successful even without the explicit support of the Papacy. This precedent would be used by many subsequent European monarchs to launch religious wars.

Sixth Crusade Summary

The Sixth Crusade was a military campaign launched primarily by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, in 1228.

The campaign aimed to capture the Kingdom of Jerusalem and bring it back under Christian control.

Frederick II failed to gain the support of the Papacy and despite being excommunicated, went ahead with the Crusade.

He was successful in negotiating the surrender of Jerusalem to the Crusader army and had himself crowned the King of Jerusalem in 1229.

The treaty between Crusaders and Saracens guaranteed ten years of peace and in 1239, the Pope issued call for another Crusade which would later be called the Barons’ Crusade