Johannes dictus Morus (d. 1254)


One of these men, named Johannes and called “the moor,” entered Frederick’s service and rose to become his personal chamberlain. Frederick appointed him his chief administrator in Lucera, and in this position Johannes became very influential throughout southern Italy, taking on the role of chancellor after Frederick’s death. Johannes met an unhappy end, though. As the representative of the Hohenstaufens, he had long been embroiled in conflicts with the Pope, but in 1254 he fatefully decided to switch sides and was murdered by disaffected Muslims loyal to the dynasty.

The stone head here is unidentified, but it comes from Lucera in the time of Johannes, and the facial scar could correspond to Johannes’s appearance, which one contemporary described as “deformatus.”

Source: Head of a Black African (ca. 1240s), Museo Civico di Lucera Giuseppe Fiorelli.