But Frederick, in his turn, could be firm and unyielding. He returned from Jerusalem to Joppa, from Joppa to Ptolemais; and there learning that a proposal had been made to establish a new order of knights, he declared that no one should, without his consent, levy soldiers within his dominion. Summoning all the Christians within the city to the broad plain without the gates, he spoke his mind freely about the conduct of the Patriarch and the Templars, with all who aided and abetted them, and insisted that all the pilgrims, having now paid their vows, should return at once to Europe. On this point he was inexorable. His archers took possession of the churches; two friars who denounced him from the pulpit were scourged through the streets; the Patriarch was shut up in his palace; and the commands of the Emperor were carried out.
Frederick returned to Europe, to find that the Pope had been stirring up Albert of Austria to rebel against him, and that the papal forces were in command of John of Brienne, who may have been the author of the false news of Frederick’s death, and who certainly proclaimed himself as the only emperor. To the Pope, Frederick sent his envoys, Herman de Salza at their head. They were dismissed with contempt; and their master was again placed under the greater excommunication with the Albigensians, the Poor Men of Lyons, the Arnoldists, and other heretics who, in the eyes of the faithful, were the worst enemies of the Christian church. Such was the reward of the man who had done more toward the reestablishment of the Latin kingdom in Palestine than had been done by the lion-hearted Richard, and who, it may fairly be said, had done it without shedding a drop of blood.
Trade trusts, which have attained so large a growth in our day, are not an original product of the present age. The Hanseatic League, or Hansa—the word meaning a society, union—was the first trust of which we have authentic record. It began about A.D. 1140, but the league was not signed until 1241. It was first called into being to protect the property of the German merchants against the piratical Swedes and other Norsemen, but presently became submerged in a combination of certain cities to enlarge and control the trade of each country with which they had commerce. So powerful did the league become that it dominated kings, nobles, and cities by its edicts.
Those free cities which constituted the league had the emperor for their lord, were released from feudal obligations, and passed their own laws, subject only to his approval. The emperors, finding in the strength of the cities a bulwark against the bishops and the princes, constantly extended the municipal rights and privileges. The Hanseatic League at one time nearly monopolized the whole trade of Europe north of Italy.