Barbarossa refers to Frederick I Barbarossa (1122–1190), who was a Holy Roman Emperor during the 12th century. The Barbarossa campaign in Age of Empires II is a series of scenarios that follows the rise of the Holy Roman Empire under this emperor during his conquests of Eastern Europe and the crusades in the Middle East.
Barbarossa personally never appears in his campaign, only in the final scenario he appears as a dead body. His hero, Frederick Barbarossa, was introduced later, in The Forgotten, and actually has nothing to do with the campaign.
"Can the will of one man forge an empire? Frederick Barbarossa attempts to force the squabbling German fiefdoms in his Holy Roman Empire, which he then must defend from the machinations of the Italian city states and the pope in Rome. And should he accomplish all of those feats, there is always the Third Crusade to wage."—In-game campaign description
The Barbarossa campaign consists of 6 scenarios. The player plays as the Teutons, and the player color is red.
- Holy Roman Emperor
- Henry the Lion
- Pope and Antipope
- The Lombard League
- Barbarossa's March
- The Emperor Sleeping
- This campaign unites at least some elements of the other Age of Kings campaigns:
- Burgundy from the Joan of Arc campaign appears on the first scenario
- Mongol forces established by Genghis Khan also appears on the first scenario
- Saladin's Saracens appear on the fifth and sixth scenarios.
- Jerusalem, which can also be encountered in the Saladin campaign, appears on the final scenario