1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Henry III. "the Black"

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21829091911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 13 — Henry III. "the Black"

HENRY III. (1017–1056), surnamed the “Black,” Roman emperor, only son of the emperor Conrad II., and Gisela, widow of Ernest I., duke of Swabia, was born on the 28th of October 1017, designated as his father’s successor in 1026, and crowned German king at Aix-la-Chapelle by Pilgrim, archbishop of Cologne, on the 14th of April 1028. In 1027 he was appointed duke of Bavaria, and his early years were mainly spent in this country, where he received an excellent education under the care of Bruno, bishop of Augsburg and, afterwards, of Egilbert, bishop of Freising. He soon began to take part in the business of the empire. In 1032 he took part in a campaign in Burgundy; in 1033 led an expedition against Ulalrich, prince of the Bohemians; and in June 1036 was married at Nijmwegen to Gunhilda, afterwards called Kunigunde, daughter of Canute, king of Denmark and England. In 1038 he followed his father to Italy, and in the same year the emperor formally handed over to him the kingdom of Burgundy, or Arles, and appointed him duke of Swabia. In spite of the honours which Conrad heaped upon Henry the relations between father and son were not uniformly friendly, as Henry disapproved of the emperor’s harsh treatment of some of his allies and adherents. When Conrad died in June 1039, Henry became sole ruler of the empire, and his authority was at once recognized in all parts of his dominions. Three of the duchies were under his direct rule, no rival appeared to contest his claim, and the outlying parts of the empire, as well as Germany, were practically free from disorder. This peaceful state of affairs was, however, soon broken by the ambition of Bretislaus, prince of the Bohemians, who revived the idea of an independent Slavonic state, and conquered various Polish towns. Henry took up arms, and having suffered two defeats in 1040 renewed the struggle with a stronger force in the following year, when he compelled Bretislaus to sue for peace and to do homage for Bohemia at Regensburg. In 1042 he received the homage of the Burgundians and his attention was then turned to the Hungarians, who had driven out their king Peter, and set up in his stead one Aba Samuel, or Ovo, who attacked the eastern border of Bavaria.

In 1043 and the two following years Henry crushed the Hungarians, restored Peter, and brought Hungary completely under the power of the German king. In 1038 Queen Kunigunde had died in Italy, and in 1043 the king was married at Ingelheim to Agnes, daughter of William V., duke of Guienne, a union which drew him much nearer to the reforming party in the church. In 1044 Gothelon (Gozelo), duke of Lorraine, died, and some disturbance arose over Henry’s refusal to grant the whole of the duchy to his son Godfrey, called the Bearded. Godfrey took up arms, but after a short imprisonment was released and confirmed in the possession of Upper Lorraine in 1046 which, however, he failed to secure. About this time Henry was invited to Italy where three popes were contending for power, and crossing the Alps with a large army he marched to Rome. Councils held at Sutri and at Rome having declared the popes deposed, the king secured the election of Suidger, bishop of Bamberg, who took the name of Clement II., and by this pontiff Henry was crowned as emperor on the 25th of December 1046. He was immediately recognized by the Romans as Patricius, an office which carried with it at this time the right to appoint the pope. Supreme in church and state alike, ruler of Germany, Italy and Burgundy, overlord of Hungary and Bohemia, Henry occupied a commanding position, and this time may be regarded as marking the apogee of the power of the Roman empire of the Germans. The emperor assisted Pope Clement in his efforts to banish simony. He made a victorious progress in southern Italy, where he restored Pandulph IV. to the principality of Capua, and asserted his authority over the Normans in Apulia and Aversa. Returning to Germany in 1047 he appointed two popes, Damasus II. and Leo IX., in quick succession, and turned to face a threatening combination in the west of the empire, where Godfrey of Lorraine was again in revolt, and with the help of Baldwin V., count of Flanders and Dirk IV., count of Holland, who had previously caused trouble to Henry, was ravaging the lands of the emperor’s representatives in Lorraine. Assisted by the kings of England and Denmark, Henry succeeded with some difficulty in bringing the rebels to submission in 1050. Godfrey was deposed; but Baldwin soon found an opportunity for a further revolt, which an expedition undertaken by the emperor in 1054 was unable to crush.

Meanwhile a reaction against German influence had taken place in Hungary. King Peter had been driven out in 1046 and his place taken by Andreas I. Inroads into Bavaria followed, and in 1051 and 1052 Henry led his forces against the Hungarians, and after the pope had vainly attempted to mediate, peace was made in 1053. It was quickly broken, however, and the emperor, occupied elsewhere, soon lost most of his authority in the east; although in 1054 he made peace between Brestislav of Bohemia and Casimir I., duke of the Poles. Henry had not lost sight of affairs in Italy during these years, and had received several visits from the pope, whose aim was to bring southern Italy under his own dominion. Henry had sent military assistance to Leo, and had handed over to him the government of the principality of Benevento in return for the bishopric of Bamberg. But the pope’s defeat by the Normans was followed by his death. Henry then nominated Gebhard, bishop of Eichstädt, who took the name of Victor II., to the vacant chair, and promised his assistance to the reluctant candidate. In 1055 the emperor went a second time to Italy, where his authority was threatened by Godfrey of Lorraine, who had married Beatrice, widow of Boniface III., margrave of Tuscany, and was ruling her vast estates. Godfrey fled, however, on the appearance of Henry, who only remained a short time in Italy, during which he granted the duchy of Spoleto to Pope Victor, and negotiated for an attack upon the Normans. Before the journey to Italy, Henry had found it necessary to depose Conrad III., duke of Bavaria, and to suppress a rising in southern Germany. During his absence Conrad formed an alliance with Welf, duke of Carinthia, and Gebhard III., bishop of Regensburg. A conspiracy to depose the emperor, support for which was found in Lorraine, was quickly discovered, and Henry, leaving Victor as his representative in Italy, returned in 1055 to Germany to receive the submission of his foes. In 1056, the emperor was visited by the pope; and on the 5th of October in the same year he died at Bodfeld and was buried at Spires. Henry was a pious and peace-loving prince, who favoured church reform, sought earnestly to suppress private warfare, and alone among the early emperors is said to have been innocent of simony. Although under his rule Germany enjoyed considerable tranquillity, and a period of wealth and progress set in for the towns, yet his secular and ecclesiastical policy showed signs of weakness. Unable, or unwilling, seriously to curb the increasing power of the church, he alienated the sympathies of the nobles as a class, and by allowing the southern duchies to pass into other hands restored a power which true to its traditions was not always friendly to the royal house. Henry was a patron of learning, a founder of schools, and built or completed cathedrals at Spires, Worms and Mainz.

The chief original authorities for the life and reign of Henry III. are the Chronicon of Herimann of Reichenau, the Annales Sangallenses majores, the Annales Hildesheimenses, all in the Monumenta Germaniae historica. Scriptores (Hanover and Berlin, 1826 fol.). The best modern authorities are W. von Giesebrecht, Geschichte der deutschen Kaiserzeit, Band ii. (Leipzig, 1888); M. Perlbach, “Die Kriege Heinrichs III. gegen Böhmen,” in the Forschungen zur deutschen Geschichte, Band x. (Göttingen, 1862–1886); E. Steindorff, Jahrbücher des deutschen Reichs unter Heinrich III. (Leipzig, 1874–1881); and F. Steinhoff, Das Königthum und Kaiserthum Heinrichs III. (Göttingen, 1865).