Online Encyclopedia

HENRY (c. 1174–1216)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 280 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
HENRY (c. 1174–1216), emperor of Romania, or Constantinople, was a younger son of Baldwin, count of Flanders and Hainaut (d. 1195). Having joined the Fourth Crusade about 1201, he distinguished himself at the siege of Constantinople in 1204 and elsewhere, and soon became prominent among the princes of the new Latin empire of Constantinople. When his brother, the emperor Baldwin I., was captured at the battle of Adrianople in April 1205, Henry was chosen regent of the empire, succeeding to the throne when the news of Baldwin's death arrived. He was crowned on the loth of August 1205. Henry was a wise ruler, whose reign was largely passed in successful struggles with the Bulgarians and with his rival, Theodore Lascaris I., emperor of Nicaea. Henry appears to have been brave but not cruel, and tolerant but not weak; possessing " the superior courage to oppose, in a superstitious age, the pride and avarice of the clergy." The emperor died, poisoned, it is said, by his Greek wife, on the 11th of June 1216. See Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. vi. (ed. J. B. Bury, 1898).he traded upon the pecuniary needs of Duke Robert of Normandy, from whom he purchased, for the small sum of £3000, the district of the Cotentin. He negotiated with Rufus to obtain the possession of their mother's inheritance, but only incurred thereby the suspicions of the duke, who threw him into prison. In 1090 the prince vindicated his loyalty by suppressing, on Robert's behalf, a revolt of the citizens of Rouen which Rufus had fomented. But when his elder brothers were reconciled in' the next year they combined to evict Henry from the Cotentin. He dissembled his resentment for a time, and lived for nearly two years in the French Vexin in great poverty. He then accepted from the citizens of Domfront an invitation to defend them against Robert of Belleme; and subsequently, coming to an agreement with Rufus, assisted the king in making war on their elder brother Robert. When Robert's departure for the First Crusade left Normandy in the hands of Rufus (1096) Henry took service under the latter, and he was in the royal hunting train on the day of Rufus's death (August 2nd, 1100). Had Robert been ih Normandy the claim of Henry to the English crown might have been effectually opposed. But Robert only returned to the duchy a month after Henry's coronation. In the meantime the new king, by issuing his famous charter, by recalling Anselm, and by choosing the Anglo-Scottish princess Edith-Matilda, daughter of Malcolm III., king of the Scots, as his future queen, had cemented that alliance with the church and with the native English which was the foundation of his greatness. Anselm preached in his favour, English levies marched under the royal banner both to repel Robert's invasion (I rot) and to crush the revolt of the Montgomeries headed by Robert of Hellenic (1102). The alliance of crown and church was subsequently imperilled by the question of Investitures (1103–1106). Henry was sharply criticized for his ingratitude to Anselm (q.v.), in spite of the marked respect which he showed to the archbishop. At this juncture a sentence of excommunication would have been a dangerous blow to Henry's power in England. But the king's diplomatic skill enabled him to satisfy the church without surrendering any rights of consequence (1106); and he skilfully threw the blame of his previous conduct upon his counsellor, Robert of Meulan. Although the Peterborough Chronicle accuses Henry of oppression in his early years, the nation soon learned to regard him with respect. William of Malmesbury, about 1125, already treats Tinchebrai (1xo6) as an English victory and the revenge for Hastings. Henry was disliked but feared by the baronage, towards whom he showed gross bad faith in his disregard of his coronation promises. In x x Io he banished the more conspicuous malcontents, and from that date was safe against the plots of his English feudatories. With Normandy he had more trouble, and the military skill which he had displayed at Tinchebrai was more than once put to the test against Norman rebels. His Norman, like his English administration, was popular with the non-feudal classes, but doubtless oppressive towards the barons. The latter had abandoned the cause of Duke Robert, who remained a prisoner in England till his death (1134); but they embraced that of Robert's son William the Clito, whom Henry in a fit of generosity had allowed to go free after Tinchebrai. The Norman conspiracies of 1112, 1118, and 1123–24 were all formed in the Clito's interest. Both France and Anjou supported this pre-tender's cause from time to time; he was always a thorn in Henry's side till his untimely death at Alost (1128), but more especially after the catastrophe of the White Ship (112c) deprived the king of his only lawful son. But Henry emerged from these complications with enhanced prestige. His campaigns had been uneventful, his chief victory (Bremule, 1119) was little more than a skirmish. But he had held his own as a general, and as a diplomatist he had shown surpassing skill. The chief triumphs of his foreign policy were the marriage of his daughter Matilda to the emperor Henry V. (1114) which saved Normandy in 1124; the detachment of the pope, Calixtus II., from the side of France and the Clito (1119), and the Angevin marriages which he arranged for his son William Aetheling (1119) and for
End of Article: HENRY (c. 1174–1216)
HENRY (c. 1108-1139)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.