Manfred, prince of Tarentum, king of the Two Sicilies, natural son of the emperor Frederick II. and of Blanca, a daughter of Count Lanzia of Lombardy, born in Sicily about 1233, fell in the battle of Benevento, Feb. 26, 1266. At his father's death in 1250 he was appointed regent in Italy during the absence of his half brother Conrad IV., the legitimate heir. Pope Innocent IV. immediately excommunicated him, declaring that the house of Swabia had ceased to rule over Sicily, because Frederick II. had died under the papal ban. Insurrections were excited in Capua, Naples, and other cities, but Manfred reduced most of the rebels, advanced to meet Conrad at Pescara, delivered the government into his hands, and aided him in completely suppressing the revolt. He was, however, removed from any part in the administration, his principality of Tarentum was taxed, and the Lanzias were exiled from it. Conrad died in 1254, leaving the crown to his infant son Conradin, and Manfred was again called to the regency. Innocent IV. renewed his opposition to him, supported by the Guelph party in the Two Sicilies, forced him to agree to hold his possessions as an immediate fief of the holy see, and had demanded from him an oath of entire submission, when he made his escape to the Saracens at Lucera. Aided by them, he defeated the papal troops at Foggia, recovered Apulia, and after the death of Innocent was recognized king of the Two Sicilies, and crowned at I ulcnuo Aug. 11, 1258, a report of Conradin's in death in Germany being at that time spread through.Italy. This report was immediately contradicted by envoys, but Manfred refused to resign the crown, and his bravery handsome person, accomplishments, and success made he people willingly submit to his rule.
Regarded as the hereditary protector of the Ghibellmes, he sent troops to Tuscany by whom the Gnelphs were defeated at Montaperto. His court abounded with poets and artists, and he himself was noted for poetic skill. He was excommunicated by Pope Alexander IV., who vainly, however, proclaimed a crusade against him, and again by Urban IV., who offered his kingdom for sale to any European prince who had the strength to take it. Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX. of France, received" the investiture of the Sicilian kingdom, was solemnly crowned by Pope Clement IV. at Rome, Jan. 6, 1266, and marched thence for the conquest of his realms. He was met by Manfred beneath the walls of Benevento. The latter was bravely supported by the Saracens, but the Apulians refused to advance against the enemy, the Sicilian army was thrown into disorder, and Manfred fell covered with wounds in the thickest of the battle. Dante alludes to his death and to his interment without religious rites (Purgatorio, canto iii.). He was twice married, first to Beatrice of Savoy, and next to Helena, a Greek princess, and left three sons and one daughter, who became the prisoners of the victor.