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