Henry (VII) of Germany

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Henry (VII)
King of Germany
Reign 1220–1235
Predecessor Frederick II
Successor Conrad IV
King of Sicily
Reign 1212–1217
Predecessor Frederick I
Successor Frederick I
King of Italy
Reign 1220–1235
Predecessor Frederick II
Successor Conrad IV
Born 1211
Died 12 February 1242
Martirano, Calabria, Kingdom of Sicily
Burial Cosenza, Calabria, Kingdom of Sicily
Spouse Margaret of Austria
House House of Hohenstaufen
Father Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Constance of Aragon

Henry (VII) (1211 – 12 February ? 1242) was King of Sicily from 1212 until 1217, Duke of Swabia from 1216, and King of Germany (formally Rex Romanorum) from 1220 until 1235. He was the son and co-king of Emperor Frederick II and elder brother of Conrad IV of Germany. He was the seventh Henry to rule Germany, but in order to avoid confusion with Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor, he is usually numbered Henry (VII).[1]

Under custody

Henry was the only son of Frederick II and his first wife, Constance of Aragon.[2] His maternal grandparents were Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castile.

He was born in 1211 in Sicily. When Frederick sought the crown of Germany, he had his son crowned King of Sicily in March 1212,[3] since an agreement between Frederick and the Pope stated that the kingdoms of Germany and Sicily should not be united under one ruler. For this, the regency of the Kingdom went to his mother and not to his father.

However, after the death of the Pope in 1216, Frederick called his son to Germany and again assumed the title of King of Sicily in 1217. Henry's mother remained as regent in Sicily, now on behalf of her husband, until 1220.

In Germany, Frederick II entrusted him with the Duchy of Swabia.[4] After the end of the Zähringen line in 1219 Henry also received the title of Rector of Burgundy,[4] though that title disappeared again when Henry was elected king.

On 20/26 April 1220, the German princes assembled at Frankfurt-am-Main elected him King, for which the Emperor issued Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis, favoring the lords spiritual.[4] The election had been a condition to Frederick II redeeming his Crusade promises of 1215, because the succession question, in case of the emperor's death on the crusade, was clarified by them. However, Pope Honorius III did not recognize the election and also deprived him of his rights over the Sicilian Kingdom, because he (just as his predecessor) wanted to prevent the union of both countries. Also numerous German princes had rejected the election in the first moment.

After Frederick II returned to Italy in 1220, Henry was placed under the tutelage of Archbishop Engelbert I of Cologne,[4] who crowned him as German King on May 8, 1222, in Aachen. Despite the fact that Henry was formally betrothed to Agnes of Bohemia,[5] Engelbert planned his marriage with one of the daughters of the King John of England; however, this union never took place. After Engelbert's death in 1225, Louis I, Duke of Bavaria, took over the guardianship. The young King was mostly in the care of imperial Ministerialis. They also acted as administrators over his Duchy of Swabia. In the meanwhile, the betrothal between Henry and the Bohemian princess was cancelled.

In Nürnberg on 29 November 1225, by order of his father, Henry married a woman seven years older than he was, Margaret, the daughter of Duke Leopold VI of Austria.[2] Sixteen months later, on 23 March 1227, she was crowned German Queen in Aachen. This union produced two sons, Henry and Frederick.

Henry VII in Würzburg in 1234, from the sixteenth-century chronicle of Lorenz Fries

Henry seems to have been a lively, cultured ruler and kept many Minnesänger at his court. It is possible he wrote some Minnelieder (courtly love poetry) himself. He was physically robust, although lame, and about 1.66 m (5' 4½") tall.

Majority and rebellion against his father

In 1228, he had a falling-out with Duke Louis of Bavaria, who was suspected of plotting with the Pope against Emperor Frederick II. Around Christmas of that year, Henry took over the rule for himself, forced Louis to submit, and then turned against the Bishop of Strassburg. The nobles, angered by his city-friendly policies, forced him however to issue in Worms on May 1, 1231 the Statutum in favorem principum, in favour of the princes and directed against the cities, and by their complaints turned Frederick II against his son — the Emperor was dependent on the support of the princes for his Italian policies. Among other things which augmented the discord between father and son, Frederick lifted several regulations on Henry during his minority years who reduce his authority, and on the other side, the action of Count Egeno V of Freiburg, a staunch enemy of the Emperor, who became in the most important of Henry's advisers.

In 1232, Henry swore obedience to his father in Cividale. In the same year, Henry renewed the league between the Hohenstaufen and the French royal house of Capet, and in the following year, subdued Otto II of the Palatinate, the son of Duke Louis of Bavaria. In 1233/34, however, he made his father angry again, when he intervened against the inquisitor Conrad of Marburg, while his father was trying to bring Pope Gregory IX into an alliance against the Lombards.

Frederick II reacted strongly and outlawed his son on 5 July 1234.[2] Henry revolted and formed an alliance with the Lombards in December. However, he was forced to submit to his father on 2 July 1235 in Wimpfen, forsaken by most of his followers. Frederick II and the nobles tried Henry on 4 July 1235 in Worms and dethroned him. His younger brother Conrad was appointed Duke of Swabia and also elected King.

Henry's allies were pardoned as far as possible. Frederick II reacted to the weakening of the royal power originated by his dispute with his son, among other things, with the Imperial Meeting (German: Reichsversammlung) in Mainz on 25 August 1235, on which for first time a Country Peace Law (German: Landfriedensgesetz) was remitted and the Regalia right was reformed fundamentally.

Imprisonment and death

Henry was kept prisoner in various places in Apulia. His seclusion may have been dictated as much by his health as by his rebelliousness: analysis of his skeleton in 1998–1999 has shown that he was suffering from advanced leprosy in his last years. This was perhaps the real cause which prevented the Emperor from forgiving him.

Possibly on 12 February 1242, Henry died near to Martirano after a fall from his horse when he was moved there from Nicastro.[2] Some chroniclers report that it had been an attempted suicide. His father had him buried with royal honours in the cathedral of Cosenza, in an antique Roman sarcophagus.

His sons Henry and Frederick were deprived of the succession jointly with him after his rebellion in 1235. Henry died young, ca. 1242/45.

Frederick, the only surviving son of Henry (VII), was named in the testament of his grandfather Frederick II, were the Emperor entrusted him with the Duchy of Austria, the Marquisate of Styria and 10,000 uncias. His death in 1251 was recorded by Matthew Paris, who claimed that both him and his older brother were poisoned (veneno interfecit).[6]

Among the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, Henry is numbered only in parentheses, as he did not exercise the sole kingship. He is not to be confused with the later Emperor Henry VII of the House of Luxembourg.

See also


  1. David Abulafia, Frederick II: A Medieval Emperor, (Oxford University Press, 1992), 229.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Steven Runciman, The Sicilian Vespers, (Cambridge University Press, 2000), 26.
  3. Welfs, Hohenstaufen and Habsburgs, Michael Toch, The New Cambridge Medieval History:c.1198-c.1300, Vol. 5, ed. David Abulafia, Rosamond McKitterick, (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 381.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Welfs, Hohenstaufen and Habsburgs, Michael Toch, 384.
  5. Welfs, Hohenstaufen and Habsburgs, Michael Toch, 385.
  6. Matthæi Parisiensis Monachi Sancti Albani Chronica Majora, Vol. V, 1254, p. 448.

External links

Henry (VII) of Germany
Born: 1211 Died: 1242
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Frederick II
King of Sicily
with Frederick II
Succeeded by
Frederick II
Duke of Swabia
Succeeded by
Conrad IV
German King