Frederick II: Circle 6, Inferno 10
Apart from Farinata's mention of him here in the circle of heresy (Inf. 10.119), the emperor Frederick II was important to Dante as the last in the line of reigning Holy Roman Emperors. Raised in Palermo, in the Kingdom of Sicily, Frederick was crowned emperor in Rome in 1220. A central figure in the conflicting claims of the empire and the papacy, he was twice excommunicated--in 1227 and 1245-- before his death in 1250. In placing Frederick among the heretics, Dante is likely following the accusations of the emperor's enemies. Elsewhere Dante praises Frederick--along with his son Manfred--as a paragon of nobility and integrity (De vulgari eloquentia 1.12.4). Frederick's court at Palermo was known as an intellectual and cultural capital, with fruitful interactions among talented individuals-- philosophers, artists, musicians, scientists, and poets--from Latin, Arabic, Italian, Northern European, and Greek traditions. Frederick's court nourished the first major movement in Italian vernacular poetry; this so-called "Sicilian School" of poetry (in which the sonnet was first developed) contributed greatly to the establishment of the Italian literary tradition that influenced the young Dante.