Travelling Through the Medieval History of the Holy Roman Empire

Hello Atlas Obscura community. I’m relatively new here but have an interesting topic to discuss today. It’s one thing to travel from Germany to Rome in real time but another thing to travel from Germany to Rome following the medieval history of Frederick Barbarossa. I haven’t been to Rome yet, but if I do go there I’ll make sure not to have the kind of entrance that Barbarossa, king of the Germans and duke of Swabia, did in the 12th century. He went there to be crowned as the prince of Rome, as many kings of the Germans did. At this time great turbulence existed twixt the pontiffs of Rome and the German kings, each one vying for what they called “divine authority.”

When the Romans tried to deny Barbarossa from taking their crown, he said, probably in a loud and demanding voice, “Let him who can, snatch the club from the hand of Hercules.” This has been a famous quote ever since, and if you’ve heard it before but never knew the context, well, now you know!

It’s very entertaining to close your eyes and travel through medieval Europe, but it takes a good understanding of the cultural climate and geography to do so. So next time you feel like travelling but can’t do so due to time restraints, I suggest you take a day off and read history. This is what I call “mental travelling” and it can be quite satisfying.

To get started, check out this cool article about Frederick Barbarossa written by yours truly or snag a copy of Otto’s The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa which was actually written in the 12th century. I hope you enjoyed my little topic and look forward to any discussion!


Thank you for this, it was very enlightening.