Barbarossa is a campaign in Age of Empires II. It is based on the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (1122 – June 10, 1190), one of the longest-lived and most influential German Medieval emperors who fought several wars in Italy before becoming one of the leaders of the Third Crusade (1189-1192).
A hero Teutonic Knight named Frederick Barbarossa was introduced in The Forgotten, but was never incorporated in any scenario. Barbarossa is only physically represented in the campaign as his post-mortem body preserved in vinegar and loaded onto a Trade Cart, the Emperor in a Barrel.
|“||Can the will of one man forge an empire? Frederick Barbarossa attempts to force the squabbling German fiefdoms into 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 combines several elements featured previously in the other The Age of Kings campaigns:
- Burgundy, a recurring secondary enemy in the Joan of Arc campaign, appears as one of many rivals in the first scenario.
- The Mongols, protagonists of the Genghis Khan campaign, appear in Hungary in the first scenario of Barbarossa's campaign, the same country they invade in Pax Mongolica (although the Barbarossa scenario is actually set before it).
- Bohemia, the strongest enemy in the fifth Genghis Khan scenario, is also one of the strongest enemies in the first scenario.
- Poland, a secondary enemy in the fifth Genghis Khan scenario, appears as the enemy in the second scenario.
- Saladin's Saracens, protagonists of their own campaign, appear as enemies of Barbarossa in the fifth and sixth scenarios.
- Jerusalem, a prominent location and recurring enemy in the Saladin campaign, is also one of the enemies in the final scenario.
- The Saladin campaign begins with the narrator, a European crusader, being lost in the desert and fearing that the Turks are coming for him. The fifth scenario revolves almost entirely about getting a crusader army across a desert while being harassed by Turks.
- During the campaign, the player fights several Italian factions variously represented by Teutons, Britons, Franks, and Byzantines, due to the Italians not being introduced until Age of Empires II HD: The Forgotten. Many of them are changed to Italians in the Definitive Edition, though not all.
- This campaign is the only among the original ones in which the starting Age in all of its scenarios is not lower than the Castle Age. It is also the only among those in which the player can reach the Imperial Age in all scenarios.