Henry the Lion: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Duke of Saxony
Duke of Bavaria
Statue in Brunswick Cathedral, said to be showing Henry the Lion.
Duke of Saxony
Reign 1142-1180
Predecessor Albert the Bear
Successor Bernard III
Duke of Bavaria
Reign 1156–1180
Predecessor Henry XI
Successor Otto III
Spouse Clementia of Zähringen
Matilda of England
Princess Gertrude
Princess Richenza
Princess Matilda
Princess Richenza
Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine
Lothar of Bavaria
Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor
William of Winchester
Princess Eleanor
Princess Ingibiorg
Full name
German: Heinrich der Löwe
English: Henry the Lion
Father Henry II, Duke of Saxony
Mother Gertrude of Süpplingenburg
Born c. 1129
Died 6 August 1195 (aged 65/66)
Duchy of Braunschweig
Burial Brunswick Cathedral

Henry the Lion (German: Heinrich der Löwe; 1129 – 6 August 1195) was a member of the Welf 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 III 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.

Coronation of Henry the Lion and Matilda of England (1188).

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, unless Barbarossa presented Henry with the Saxon imperial city Goslar: a request Barbarossa refused.

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 (Brunswick), where he finished his days as duke of Braunschweig, peacefully sponsoring arts and architecture. He died on 6 August 1195.


Henry's ancestors in three generations
Henry the Lion Father:
Henry X, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Grandfather:
Henry IX, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Welf I, Duke of Bavaria
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Judith of Flanders
Paternal Grandmother:
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Magnus, Duke of Saxony
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Sophia of Hungary
Gertrude of Süpplingenburg
Maternal Grandfather:
Lothair III, Holy Roman Emperor
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Gebhard of Supplinburg
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Hedwig von Formbach
Maternal Grandmother:
Richenza of Northeim
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Henry the Fat of Northeim
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Gertrud of Brunswick


Henry's duchies Saxony and Bavaria

Henry had the following known children:

Three other children are listed, by some sources, as having belonged to Henry and Matilda;

  • Eleanor (born 1178); died young cheese
  • Ingibiorg (born 1180); died young
  • Infant Son (b.&d. 1182)
  • by his lover, Ida of Blieskastel:
    • Matilda, married Henry Borwin I, Prince of Mecklenburg


  • Karl Jordan, Henry the Lion. A Biography, ISBN 0-19-821969-5
Henry the Lion
Born: 1129 Died: 1195
German royalty
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Albert the Bear
Duke of Saxony
Succeeded by
Bernard III
Preceded by
Henry XI
Duke of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Otto III

External links

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