Hoheinstaufen , the name of a German family of princes, which ruled the German empire, with short interruptions, from 1138 to 1254. The name is derived from a castle on Mount Staufen in Wurtemberg, built by Frederick of Buren, one of the ancestors of the family. His son, known as Frederick of Staufen, was a stanch adherent of the emperor Henry IV. during his long struggles with the see of Rome and various rivals in Germany, and after the battle of Merseburg received the hand of his daughter Agnes, and the duchy of Swabia. This sudden elevation of the house, which from another possession in Swabia, Waiblingen, was also called Ghibelline, was the origin of its long struggle with the mighty rival family of the Guelphs. Of Frederick's two sons, Frederick II., the One-eyed, was confirmed by Henry V., the son and successor of Henry IV., in the possession of Swabia, while Conrad received Franconia. After the death of Henry, Conrad and Lothaire of Saxony appeared as competitors for the imperial dignity, and the great power of the Hohenstaufen was the chief cause of the success of Lothaire; but after his death (1137), Conrad, who had waged a long war against the emperor, the pope, and the Guelphs, ascended the throne of Germany as the third of that name.
His nephew Frederick Barbarossa became his successor (1152-'90), and was succeeded by his son Henry VI. (died 1197). The son of the latter, Frederick, a child of two years, was not acknowledged as successor; and his uncle Philip, too, had to struggle against rivals, and was finally slain by Otho of Wit-telsbach (1208). But soon after the young Frederick II. (1212-'50) rose in defence of his rights, and waged a gallant struggle against his enemies in Germany, as well as in Italy, where he had inherited from his mother Constance the Norman possessions. His son Conrad IV. died early in Italy (1254), where all the remaining male inheritors of the name of Hohenstaufen soon after perished in their struggle against Rome and the house of Anjou : Manfred, a son of Frederick II., in the battle of Benevento in 1266; Conradin, the young son of Conrad IV., on the scaffold at Naples in 12G8; and Enzio, a natural son of Frederick, and the sons of Manfred, in prison. The possessions of the house were divided among various families, and now belong to Baden, Wur-temberg, and Bavaria. The principal work on the history of the family is Raumer's Geschichte der Hohenstaufen und ihrer Zeit (4th ed., 6 vols., Leipsic, 1871).