Henry VII (Holy Roman emperor and German king)

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Henry VII (Holy Roman emperor and German king)

Henry VII, c.1275–1313, Holy Roman emperor (1312–13) and German king (1308–13). A minor count of the house of Luxembourg, Henry was elected German king on the death of King Albert I after the electors had set aside the two main contenders, Albert's eldest son, Frederick of Austria, and the French prince Charles of Valois. By accepting Elizabeth of Bohemia's offer (1310) to marry his son, John of Luxembourg, he gained Bohemia for his house and made it the main rival to the house of Hapsburg. He secured the German princes' approval for the acquisition by lavishly distributing the imperial domain. Henry's chief concern, however, was to renew the Hohenstaufen policy of making Italy the main source of imperial power. Pope Clement V and, among others, Dante welcomed his rule as a means of ending the by now almost meaningless strife of the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Entering the peninsula in 1310, Henry proclaimed himself above all parties and received the homage of leaders of both of the chief factions; in Jan., 1311, he was crowned king of the Lombards at Milan, a Guelph city. A revolt occurred in Milan, however, when Henry levied taxes on the city to support his army; although the revolt was suppressed, it drove Henry into the Ghibelline camp and precipitated war with the Guelph cities. Henry did not reach Rome until the following year, where on June 29, 1312, he was crowned Holy Roman emperor. Leaving Rome, he besieged Florence, but without success; in 1313, having allied himself with King Frederick II of Sicily, he pronounced the ban of the empire against King Robert of Naples, who opposed Henry's policy in Italy. While preparing to attack Robert, Henry died of fever. Henry VII's abortive Italian campaign only served to prove the futility of any attempt to revive the ancient imperial policy at a time when the papacy and S Italy were controlled by France and the N Italian towns were autonomous. Henry was succeeded by Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV.

See W. M. Bowsky, Henry VII in Italy (1960).

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