Henry I Facts
Henry I (876-936), or Henry the Fowler, was king of Germany from 919 to 936. The first monarch of the Saxon dynasty, he allowed autonomy to the various German duchies and concentrated his resources on defense against the Danes and the Magyars.
The son of Otto of Erlauchten, Duke of Saxony, Henry I was a great grandson of Louis the Pious. What education he had was from tutors, and he was trained to succeed his father as Duke of Saxony. In 909 Henry married Mathilda, daughter of Count Dietrich, whose possessions in Westphalia helped to increase the power of the Saxon duke in that area.
In 912, upon the death of his father, Henry became Duke of Saxony. His relations with King Conrad I were not always peaceful, but the struggle for control of Thuringia, a territory that lay adjacent to Saxony and Franconia (Conrad's duchy), was settled by the Treaty of Grona in 915.
Shortly before his death in 918, Conrad designated Henry as his successor, and Henry was acclaimed king at Fritzlar in May 919. As king, he ruled a federation of duchies which were recognized as autonomous units. Henry concentrated on building up his own power in Saxony and expanding his control into lower Lorraine. After an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Duke Gilbert (Giselbert) of Lorraine, who was aided by the king of the West Franks, Charles the Simple, Henry was recognized as king of the East Franks at the Treaty of Bonn in 921. In 923 Henry again tried to enter Lorraine, only to be driven back by Rudolf, Duke of Burgundy. In 925 he attempted a third campaign and, besieging Gilbert at Zülpich, forced his submission.
Henry then turned eastward to protect Saxony and Thuringia against the incursions of the Danes, the Wends, and the Magyars. Henry was able to halt the Danes and Wends and, through the capture of a Magyar chieftain, forced peace on the Magyars for 9 years, during which time they paid tribute to the Saxon king.
Henry used this period of peace to consolidate his power in Saxony. He fortified his major cities, Merseburg, Hersfeld, Goslar, Gandersheim, Quedlinburg, and Pöhlde, which were to become centers of trade, justice, and social and military activity. The lands that had been taken from the Wends were distributed in the form of fiefs among his followers and servants.
During the years 928-932 Henry pushed eastward into Slavic lands and set up administrative centers at Brandenburg and Meissen. In 929 he entered Bohemia, where he forced King Wenceslas to recognize German sovereignty and to pay a yearly tribute. In 933 and 934 Henry concentrated on attacking and defeating in turn the Magyars and the Danes.
Sick with paralysis, Henry designated his eldest son, Otto, as king and called the nobles to Erfurt in early 936 to elect him. On July 2, 936, at Memleben, Henry died and was buried in the church of St. Peter, which he had founded at Quedlinburg.
Further Reading on Henry I
An account of the reign of Henry I is in The Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 3 (8 vols., 1911-1936). A more recent interpretation is G. Barraclough, The Origins of Modern Germany (1946; 2d ed. 1947).
Henry I (1068-1135) was king of England from 1100 to 1135. His reign was dominated by his struggle to conquer and defend Normandy and to make his government in England more efficient and more profitable.
The third surviving son of William I and Matilda of Flanders, Henry I received a good education and could read and write Latin, an accomplishment rare among laymen at that time. On his father's death in 1089, Henry's brothers, Robert and William II, inherited Normandy and England respectively; Henry was left £5,000, with which he bought land in western Normandy. Robert could not govern efficiently, and Henry therefore allied with William, who in 1096 took over Normandy as security for a loan to enable Robert to go on a crusade.
On Aug. 2, 1100, when Robert was on his way home, William was shot, possibly with Henry's connivance, when hunting in the New Forest. Henry seized the royal treasure in nearby Winchester and was hastily crowned on August 5 at Westminster. Here he issued a charter promising reforms, most of which were designed to win support from the great landowners and the Church. He imprisoned William's unpopular minister Ranulf Flambard and recalled the exiled Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury. In November 1100 he married Edith, later called Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III, King of Scots and descendant of the Saxon kings; this marriage secured peace with Scotland and the goodwill of the English. These measures helped him to survive an attack by Duke Robert in 1101. In 1104 and 1105 Henry attacked Normandy and in 1106 finally defeated his brother at Tinchebrai and took over the duchy, keeping Robert a prisoner till his death in 1134.
In 1107 Henry reached a statesmanlike compromise with the Pope and the archbishop of Canterbury in the longstanding dispute about elections of bishops and abbots, which had caused Anselm to retire to a second period of exile. Henry gave up the ancient custom of lay investiture (giving prelates the ring and staff which were the symbols of their spiritual office), while the Pope agreed that prelates should be elected in the King's presence and do homage for their estates before consecration. In this way Henry and his successors retained control of Church appointments, giving up only a formal ceremony.
As well as watching constantly to suppress rebellion in Normandy, Henry made diplomatic moves to protect it from attack. In 1109 his daughter Matilda was promised to the emperor Henry V; in 1113 he agreed that his son and heir William should marry the daughter of Fulk, Count of Anjou. He paid a large pension to the Count of Flanders and gave substantial estates in England and Normandy to his nephew Stephen, brother of another potential ally, the Count of Blois. Thus fortified, he was able to repel several attacks led by Louis VI, King of France, in support of the claim to Normandy of Duke Robert's son, William Clito. Though defeated at Brémule in 1119, Louis continued to support William and made him Count of Flanders in 1127. Fortunately for Henry, William Clito died in 1128.
Though he gave much of his time to Normandy, Henry's reign produced notable developments in the government of England. He increased the number of professional administrators, employing men of comparatively humble origins. Many of these were laymen, but their chief was Roger, Bishop of Salisbury. Roger was the King's right-hand man and was probably responsible for the organization of the Exchequer, the royal accounting office, which had its own staff and its own records, the Domesday Book and the Pipe Rolls, of which the first surviving specimen belongs to the year ending Michaelmas (sept. 29), 1130. In judicial matters more cases were claimed for the King's court, and the King's controlling position was emphasized by sending justices to visit the county courts and by the brutal, but methodical, punishment of criminals.
The great problem of Henry's later years was the succession. He had at least 20 illegitimate children but only one legitimate son, William, and one daughter, Matilda. William's death by drowning in 1120 was a political disaster. Henry, in hope of an heir, married Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey, Duke of Lower Lorraine (another potential ally of France's flank), but the union was childless. Matilda, however, became a widow in 1125; Henry summoned her home and in December 1126 made the nobles swear to accept her as domina (lady) of England and Normandy. He then arranged her marriage to Geoffrey, son of the Count of Anjou. But when Henry died on Dec. 1, 1135, his nephew Stephen ascended the English throne.
Further Reading on Henry I
A basic study of Henry is in Richard William Southern, Medieval Humanism and Other Studies (1970). A contemporary account of Henry I is Eadmer's History of Recent Events in England (trans. 1964). Good accounts of Normandy and England in this period are in Charles Homer Haskins, Norman Institutions (1918), and Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England, 1042-1216 (1955; 2d ed. 1961). Edward J. Kealey, Roger of Salisbury (1972), is an important study of the man who was Henry's viceroy for over 30 years.
Additional Biography Sources
Brett, M., The English Church under Henry I, London: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Dymoke, Juliet, Henry of the high roc, London, Dobson, 1971.
Dymoke, Juliet, The lion's legacy, London: Dobson, 1974.
Plaidy, Jean, The lion of justice, London: Hale, 1975.
Plaidy, Jean, The lion of justice, New York: Putnam, 1979, 1975.