Henry the Lion

Henry the Lion

Henry the Lion (German: "Heinrich der Löwe"; 1129 – 6 August 1195) was a member of the Guelph dynasty and Duke of Saxony, as Henry III, from 1142, and Duke of Bavaria, as Henry XII, from 1156, which duchies he held until 1180.

He was one of the most powerful German princes of his time, until the rival Hohenstaufen dynasty succeeded in isolating him and eventually deprived him of his duchies of Bavaria and Saxony during the reign of his cousin Frederick I and of Frederick's son and successor Henry VI.

At the height of his reign, Henry ruled over a vast territory stretching from the coast of the North and Baltic Seas to the Alps, and from Westphalia to Pomerania. Henry achieved this great power in part by his political and military acumen and in part through the legacies of his four grandparents.


Born in Ravensburg, he was the son of Henry the Proud, Duke of Bavaria and Saxony, who was the son of Duke Henry the Black and an heiress of the Billungs, former dukes of Saxony. Henry's mother was Gertrud, only daughter of Emperor Lothair II and his wife Richenza of Northeim, heiress of the Saxon territories of Northeim and the properties of the Brunones, counts of Braunschweig.

Henry's father died in 1139, aged 32, when Henry was still a child. King Conrad III had dispossessed Henry the Proud, who had been his rival for the crown in 1138, of his duchies in 1138 and 1139, handing Saxony to Albert the Bear and Bavaria to Leopold of Austria. Henry, however, did not relinquish his claims to his inheritance, and Conrad returned Saxony to him in 1142. A participant in the 1147 Wendish Crusade, Henry also reacquired Bavaria by a decision of the new Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in 1156.

Henry is the founder of Munich (1157/58; "München") and Lübeck (1159); he also founded and developed the cities of Stade, Lüneburg and Braunschweig. In Braunschweig, his capital, he had a bronze lion, his heraldic animal, erected in the yard of his castle Dankwarderode in 1166 — the first bronze statue north of the Alps. Later, he had Brunswick Cathedral built close to the statue.In 1147 Henry married Clementia of Zähringen, thereby gaining her hereditary territories in Swabia. He divorced her in 1162, apparently under pressure from Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who did not cherish Guelphish possessions in his home area and offered Henry several fortresses in Saxony in exchange. In 1168 Henry married Matilda (1156 -1189), the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and sister of Richard Lionheart.

Henry long and faithfully supported his older cousin, Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa), in his attempts to solidify his hold on the Imperial Crown and his repeated wars with the cities of Lombardy and the Popes, several times turning the tide of battle in Frederick's favor with his fierce Saxon knights. But in 1174, Henry refused to aid Frederick in a renewed invasion of Lombardy because he was preoccupied with securing his own borders in the East. He did not consider these Italian adventures worth the effort, even after Frederick offered him the rich Imperial City of Goslar in southern Saxony as a reward, a prize Henry had long coveted. Barbarossa's expedition into Lombardy ended in utter failure. He bitterly resented Henry for failing to support him. Taking advantage of the hostility of other German princes to Henry, who had successfully established a powerful and contiguous state comprising Saxony, Bavaria and substantial territories in the north and east of Germany, Frederick had Henry tried "in absentia" for insubordination by a court of bishops and princes in 1180. Declaring that Imperial law overruled traditional German law, the court had Henry stripped of his lands and declared him an outlaw. Frederick then invaded Saxony with an Imperial army to bring his cousin to his knees. Henry's allies deserted him, and he finally had to submit in November 1181 at a Reichstag in Erfurt. He was exiled from Germany in 1182 for three years, stayed with his father-in-law, Henry II of England, in Normandy before being allowed back into Germany in 1185. He was exiled again in 1188. His wife Matilda died in 1189.

When Frederick Barbarossa went on the Crusade of 1189, Henry returned to Saxony, mobilized an army of his faithful, and conquered and ravaged the rich city of Bardowick as punishment for her disloyalty. Only the churches were left standing. Barbarossa's son, Emperor Henry VI, again defeated the Duke, but in 1194, with his end approaching, he made his peace with the Emperor, and returned to his much diminished lands around Braunschweig, where he finished his days as duke of Braunschweig, peacefully sponsoring arts and architecture. He died on 6 August 1195.

The picture at the top right, taken from his tomb in Brunswick Cathedral constructed between 1230 and 1240, shows an idealized image. When the Nazis exhumed his corpse, they were disappointed to find a comparatively small man with black hair. This, presumably, was an inheritance from the northern Italian ancestors of the Guelphs, the counts of Este. Fact|date=April 2007



Henry had the following known children:

*by his first wife, Clementia (divorced 1162), daughter of Conrad, Duke of Zähringen and Clemence of Namur:
**Gertrude of Bavaria (1155-1197), married first Frederick IV, Duke of Swabia, and then King Canute VI of Denmark
**Richenza (c. 1157 - 1167)

*by his second wife, Matilda, daughter of King Henry II of England (married 1168):
**Matilda (1171-1210), married Godfrey, Count of Perche, and Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy
**Richenza (1172-1204), was engaged to King Valdemar II of Denmark
**Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine (c. 1173-1227)
**Lothar of Bavaria (c. 1174-1190)
**Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Duke of Swabia (c. 1175-1218)
**William of Winchester (1184-1213)

Three other children are listed, by some sources, as having belonged to Henry and Matilda;
*Eleanor (born 1178); died young
*Ingibiorg (born 1180); died young
*Infant Son (b.&d. 1182)

*by his lover, Ida of Blieskastel:
**Matilda, married Henry Borwin I, Prince of Mecklenburg


* Benjamin Arnold, "Henry the Lion and His Time", "Journal of Medieval History", vol. 22, pp. 379-393 (1996)

* Karl Jordan, "Henry the Lion. A Biography", ISBN 0-19-821969-5

External links

* [http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/H/HenryL1io.asp Henry the Lion on Encyclopedia.com]
* [http://www.bartleby.com/65/he/HenryLio.html Henry the Lion. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition]
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-58109 The fall of Henry the Lion (from Germany) -- Encyclopædia Britannica]
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-2455 Deposition of Henry the Lion. (from Frederick I) -- Encyclopædia Britannica]
* [http://encarta.msn.com/media_461561791_761578474_1_1/Henry_the_Lion.html MSN Encarta - Multimedia - Henry the Lion]
* [http://lba.hist.uni-marburg.de/lba-cgi/kleioc/00101KlLBA/exec/apply2/width/%226109%22/height/%226109%22/url/%22http:%7B|%7D%7B|%7D137.248.186.134%7B|%7Dlba-cgi-local%7B|%7Dpic.sh%7B-%7Djpg%7B|%7DE711.jpg%22 Charter given by Henry to monastery Volkenroda, 31.1.1174] . Photograph taken from the collections of the Lichtbildarchiv älterer Originalurkunden at Marburg University showing Henry's seal.

NAME = Henry III
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Heinrich der Löwe
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Ruler of Bavaria
PLACE OF BIRTH = Ravensburg
DATE OF DEATH = 6 August 1195
PLACE OF DEATH = Braunschweig

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gospels of Henry the Lion — The Gospels of Henry the Lion were intended by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony, for the altar of the Virgin Mary in the church of St. Blaise s Abbey, Brunswick, better known as Brunswick Cathedral. The volume is considered a masterpiece of… …   Wikipedia

  • The Lion in Winter — is a 1966 Broadway play by James Goldman, who also cinematically adapted it in 1968 for the film directed by Anthony Harvey and a 2003 film by Andrei Konchalovsky.Production historyOriginal Broadway productionThe play s premier was in the… …   Wikipedia

  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight — by The Tokens Single by The Tokens B side …   Wikipedia

  • The Death of the Lion — is a 1894 short story by Henry James.Plot summaryThe narrator suggests writing an article on Neil Paraday; his new editor agrees. The former spends a week with Neil and writes the article whilst there, alongside reading Paraday s latest book. His …   Wikipedia

  • The Lion in Winter (1968 film) — Infobox Film name = The Lion in Winter caption = Theatrical release poster director = Anthony Harvey producer = Joseph E. Levine writer = James Goldman starring = Peter O Toole Katharine Hepburn Anthony Hopkins John Castle Nigel Terry Timothy… …   Wikipedia

  • The Lion in Winter — Filmdaten Deutscher Titel: Der Löwe im Winter Originaltitel: The Lion in Winter Produktionsland: Großbritannien Erscheinungsjahr: 1968 Länge: 129 Minuten Originalsprache: Englisch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • The Lion in Winter (2003 film) — Infobox Film name = The Lion in Winter caption = DVD cover director = Andrei Konchalovsky producer = Patrick Stewart Dyson Lovell writer = James Goldman starring = Patrick Stewart Glenn Close Andrew Howard John Light Rafe Spall music = Richard… …   Wikipedia

  • The Lion King 1½ — Le Roi Lion 3 : Hakuna Matata Le Roi Lion 3 : Hakuna Matata Titre original The Lion King 1½ Titre québécois Le Roi Lion 1½ Réalisation Bradley Raymond Scénario …   Wikipédia en Français

  • The Lion Has Wings — Infobox Film name = The Lion Has Wings image size = 175x caption = DVD cover director = Michael Powell Brian Desmond Hurst Adrian Brunel Alexander Korda (uncredited) producer = Alexander Korda Ian Dalrymple writer = Adrian Brunel Ian Dalrymple… …   Wikipedia

  • The Wind and the Lion — Infobox Film name = The Wind and the Lion caption = promotional poster for The Wind and the Lion director = John Milius producer = Herb Jaffe Phil Rawlins (associate) writer = John Milius starring = Sean Connery Candice Bergen Brian Keith John… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.