Henry II (Holy Roman emperor and German king)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Henry II (Holy Roman emperor and German king)

Henry II, 973–1024, Holy Roman emperor (1014–24) and German king (1002–24), last of the Saxon line. He succeeded his father as duke of Bavaria. When Otto III died without an heir, Henry, who was Otto's second cousin and the great-grandson of Henry I, was elected German king. After some opposition he was recognized by the German duchies. In 1004 he entered Italy and at Pavia was crowned king of the rebellious Lombards by the bishops. Italian resistance appeared to be broken when Pavia was destroyed in a conflict between the citizens and Henry's German followers, but his supremacy was still uncertain when he went north to meet Boleslaus I of Poland. Henry expelled (1004) Boleslaus from Bohemia, but the war dragged on until 1018, when Boleslaus was able to obtain territories in E Germany in fief from Henry. Returning (1013) to Italy, Henry was crowned (1014) Holy Roman emperor at Rome. On his third Italian campaign (1021–22), undertaken at the pope's behest, he restored order in Lombardy, reasserted his sovereignty in all Italy, and attended a synod at Pavia where he advocated far-reaching church reform. Always relying heavily on ecclesiastic support, Henry opposed the monastic clergy in its jurisdictional struggle with the bishops, and he forcefully exercised his right of nominating bishops. However, both Henry and his empress, Kunigunde of Luxembourg, were distinguished for piety and have been canonized. His most notable achievement was the foundation of the new bishopric of Bamberg, which became a center of scholastic culture and art. Henry died childless; he was succeeded by Conrad II. Feast: July 15.

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