Enzo of Sardinia

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King Enzo imprisoned in Bologna, from a medieval manuscript

Enzo (or Enzio)[1] (c. 1218–1272) was an illegitimate son of Emperor Frederick II, who appointed him King of Sardinia in 1238. He played a major role in the wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines in northern Italy, and was captured by his enemies in 1249. He remained imprisoned in Bologna until his death.


Enzo was an illegitimate son of Frederick II by a certain Adelaide. It is speculated that she was Adelaide of Urslingen. He was the eldest of the illegitimate sons of the emperor, and allegedly the favourite one.[2]

He had a pleasant personality and a strong physical resemblance to his father. He fought in the wars between his father, the pope, and the Northern Italian communes.

When Ubaldo of Gallura died in 1238, the Doria family of Genoa, in order to secure the Giudicato of Logudoro from Pisan domination, convinced the emperor to marry Enzo to Ubaldo's widow, Adelasia of Torres.[3][4] By marrying her, Enzo would accede to half of the island of Sardinia jure uxoris. He was created a knight in Cremona and granted the title "King of Sardinia". He travelled to the island to marry Adelasia in October that year.

In July 1239, he was assigned as imperial vicar general in Lombardy, as well as General-Legate in Romagna, and left Sardinia never to return. In 1241, he took part in the capture of a papal fleet at Giglio Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. His first successful move as military leader was the reconquest of Jesi, in the Marche, which was Frederick's birthplace. Later he was captured in a skirmish against the Milanese at Gorgonzola, but soon released. In 1245 or 1246 his marriage was annulled. In 1247, he took part in the unsuccessful siege of Parma.

He continued to fight the Guelph Lombards, assaulting the Guelphs of Reggio and conducting an assault in the surroundings of Parma.

During a campaign to support the Ghibelline cities of Modena and Cremona against Guelph Bologna, he was defeated and captured on 26 May 1249 at the Battle of Fossalta. Enzo was thenceforth kept prisoner in Bologna, in the palace that came to bear his name. Every attempt to escape or to rescue him failed, and he died in prison in 1272: after the murder of Conradin in 1268, he was the last of the Hohenstaufen.

Enzo shared the father's passion for falconry, and was thus nicknamed Falconello ("little falcon"[5]). He was the dedicatee of a French translation of a hunting treatise by Yatrib. Like his brother Manfred, he presumambly grew fond of poetry at Frederick's court: during his long imprisonment Enzo wrote several poems, and his pitiful fate was itself a source of inspiration for several poets.[6]

The powerful Bentivoglio family of Bologna and Ferrara claimed descent from him.


  • Cioppi, Alessandra, Enzo re di Sardegna, Carlo Delfino, Sassari 1995.
  • Ferrabino, Aldo (ed) (1960). Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani: I Aaron – Albertucci. Rome. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Mühlbacherer, Josef. Lebenswege und Schicksale staufischer Frauen.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Sperle, Christian (2001). König Enzo von Sardinien und Friedrich von Antiochia. Zwei illegitime Söhne Kaiser Friedrichs II. und ihre Rolle in der Verwaltung des Regnum Italiae. ISBN 3-631-37457-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Columbia Encyclopedia: Enzio.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also


  1. Italianisation of Heinz, diminutive of Heinrich, German form of Henry. In the primary sources, in Latin he is Ensius, Encius, Enzius, Entius, Hençus, Henzius, and occasionally Henricus.
  2. According to this site, Frederick II's eldest illegitimate son was Frederick di Pettorana
  3. Bedürftig Friedemann: p. 63 "Taschenlexikon Staufer"
  4. Decker-Hauff Hansmartin: Band III p. 367
  5. Mühlbacherer Josef: p. 205
  6. Lexikon des Mittelalters: Band III, p. 2030
Preceded by
Giudice of Logudoro
Succeeded by