Emperor Henry Vii

EMPEROR HENRY VII. (c. 1269-1313), Roman emperor, son of Henry III., count of Luxemburg, was knighted by Philip IV., king of France, and passed his early days under French influences, while the French language was his mother-tongue. His father was killed in battle in 1 288, and Henry ruled his tiny inheritance with justice and prudence, but came into collision with the citizens of Trier over a question of tolls. In 1292 he married Margaret (d. 1311), daughter of John I., duke of Brabant, and after the death of the German king, Albert I., he was elected to the vacant throne on the 27th of November 1308. Recognized at once by the German princes and by Pope Clement V., the aspirations of the new king turned to Italy, where he hoped by restoring the imperial authority to prepare the way for the conquest of the Holy Land. Meanwhile he strove to secure his position in Germany. The Rhenish archbishops were pacified by the restoration of the Rhine tolls, negotiations were begun with Philip IV., king of France, and with Robert, king of Naples, and the Habsburgs were confirmed in their possessions. At this time Bohemia was ruled by Henry V., duke of Carinthia, but the terrible disorder which prevailed induced some of the Bohemians to offer the crown, together with the hand of Elizabeth, daughter of the late king Wenceslas II., to John, the son of the German king. Henry accepted the offer, and in August 1310 John was invested with Bohemia and his marriage was celebrated. Before John's coronation at Prague, however, in February 1311, Henry had crossed the Alps. His hopes of reuniting Germany and Italy and of restoring the empire of the Hohenstaufen were flattered by an appeal from the Ghibellines to come to their assistance, and by the fact that many Italians, sharing the sentiments expressed by Dante in his De Monarchia, looked eagerly for a restoration of the imperial authority. In October 1310 he reached Turin where, on receiving the homage of the Lombard cities, he declared that he favoured neither Guelphs nor Ghibellines, but only sought to impose peace. Having entered Milan he placed the Lombard crown upon his head on the 6th of January 1311. But trouble soon showed itself. His poverty compelled him to exact money from the citizens; the peaceful professions of the Guelphs were insincere, and Robert, king of Naples, watched his progress with suspicion. Florence was fortified against him, and the mutual hatred of Guelph and Ghibelline was easily renewed. Risings took place in various places and, after the capture of Brescia, Henry marched to Rome only to find the city in the hands of the Guelphs and the troops of King Robert. Some street fighting ensued, and the king, unable to obtain possession of St Peter's, was crowned emperor on the 2pth of June 1312 in the church of St John Lateran by some cardinals who declared they only acted under compulsion. Failing to subdue Florence, the emperor from his headquarters at Pisa prepared to attack Robert of Naples, for which purpose he had allied himself with Frederick III., king of Sicily. But Clement, anxious to protect Robert, threatened Henry with excommunication. Undeterred by the threat the emperor collected fresh forces, made an alliance with the Venetians, and set out for Naples. On the march he was, however, taken ill, and died at Buonconvento near Siena on the 24th of August 1313, and was buried at Pisa. His death was attributed, probably without reason, to poison given him by a Dominican friar in the sacramental wine. Henry is described by his contemporary Albertino Mussato, in the Historia Augusta as a handsome man, of well-proportioned figure, with reddish hair and arched eyebrows, but disfigured by a squint. He adds, among other details, that he was slow and laconic in his speech, magnanimous and devout, but impatient of any compacts with his subjects, loathing the mention of the Guelph and Ghibelline factions, and insisting on the absolute authority of the Empire over all (cuncta absolute complectem Imperio). He was, however, a lover of justice, and as a knight both bold and skilful. He was hailed by Dante as the deliverer of Italy, and in the Paradiso the poet reserved for him a place marked by a crown.

The contemporary documents for the life and reign of Henry VII. are very numerous. Many of them are found in the Rerum Italicarum scriptores, edited by L. A. Muratori (Milan, 1723-1751) others in Fontes rerum Germanicarum, edited by J. F. Bohmer (Stuttgart, 1843-1868), and in Die Geschichtsschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit, Bande 79 and 80 (Leipzig, 1884). The following modern works may also be consulted: Ada Henrici VII. imperatoris Romanorum, edited by G. Donniges (Berlin, 1839); F. Bonaini Ada Henrici VII. Romanorum imperatoris (Florence, 1877); T Lindner, Deutsche Geschichte unter den Habsburgern und Luxemburgern (Stuttgart, 1888-1893); J. Heidemann, "Die Konigswah Heinrichs von Luxemburg," in the Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, Band xi. (Gottingen, 1862-1886); B. Thomas, Zur Konigswahl des Graf en Heinrich von Luxemburg (Strassburg, 1875) D. Konig, Kritische Erorterungen zu einigen italienischen Quellen fur die Geschichte des Romerzuges Konigs Heinrich VII. (Gottingen 1874); K. Wenck, Clemens V. und Heinrich VII. (Halle, 1882) F. W. Barthold, Der Romerzug Konig Heinrichs von Liitzelburg Konigsberg, 1830-1831); R. Pohlmann, Der Romerzug Kiinig 'leinnchs VII. und die Politik der Curie (Nuremberg, 1875); W. Donniges, Kritik der Quellen fur die Geschichle Heinrichs VII. des Luxemburgers (Berlin, 1841), and G. Sommerfeldt, Die Romfahrt Kaiser Heinrichs VII. (Konigsberg, 1888).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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