Commander of the German army in the Third Crusade (1189-1192) from the death of his father, Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (1190), until his own death in 1191.
Frederick was the third son of Frederick Barbarossa and Beatrix of Burgundy, born at Modigliana in Romagna (central Italy) in February 1167. He was originally called Conrad, but received the traditional forename of the Staufen (Hohenstaufen) family after the death of his elder brother, also called Frederick (1169). As the second brother, Henry, was intended as future king of Germany and the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick was given the duchy of Swabia, which had become vacant on the death of his cousin Frederick IV (of Rothenburg).
Frederick V of Swabia took the cross in March 1188 in Mainz at the gathering known as the Court of Jesus Christ (Lat. curia Iesu Christi) along with his father and numerous other German nobles and prelates. Unlike the other contingents that joined the crusade, Barbarossa’s army travelled overland to the East. Frederick of Swabia was entrusted with many important diplomatic and military responsibilities during the march, and he led the crusader assault that captured Ikonion (mod. Konya, Turkey), capital of the Saljûq sultanate of Rûm (18 May 1190).
When his father was drowned in Cilicia (10 June 1190), Frederick was unanimously recognized as the commander of the German army. Although a large number of German crusaders quickly returned home, Frederick led the remainder via Tarsos (mod. Tarsus, Turkey) and Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey) to Tripoli (mod. Trâblous, Lebanon), from where they traveled to Palestine by sea, arriving in October. They joined the other crusader contingents engaged in the siege of Acre (mod. ‘Akko, Israel), but Frederick succumbed to a pestilence and died on 20 January 1191.