Henry I

1. ("Henry the Fowler") A.D. 876?-936, king of Germany 919-936: first of the Saxon kings.
2. ("Beauclerc") 1068-1135, king of England 1100-35 (son of William the Conqueror).
3. 1008-60, king of France 1031-60.

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known as Henry Beauclerc (French: "Good Scholar")

born 1069
died Dec. 1, 1135, Lyons-la-Forêt, Normandy

King of England (1100–35) and ruler of Normandy (1106–35).

The youngest son of William I, he became king on the death of William II. His eldest brother, Robert Curthose (Robert II), returned from the First Crusade to claim the English throne in 1101; Henry placated him by giving him Normandy, but Robert ruled it badly, and in 1106 Henry seized Normandy and imprisoned his brother. Henry quarreled with Anselm of Canterbury over the issue of investiture (see Investiture Controversy), but they were reconciled in 1107. He maintained control of Normandy, despite attacks by Robert's son, and named his daughter Matilda his heir.

Henry I, miniature from a 14th-century manuscript; in the British Library (Cottonian Claud D11 45 ...

By permission of the British Library

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▪ king of Castile

born 1203
died June 6, 1217, Palencia, Castile [Spain]

      king of Castile from 1214 to 1217.

      Henry was the son of Alfonso VIII of Castile and his wife Eleanor, daughter of Henry II of England, after whom he was named. He was killed, while still a boy, by the fall of a tile from a roof. Sovereignty over Castile was then assumed by Alfonso VIII's cousin, Alfonso IX, king of Leon.

▪ king of England
byname  Henry Beauclerc (Good Scholar),  French  Henri Beauclerc 
born 1069, Selby, Yorkshire, Eng.
died Dec. 1, 1135, Lyons-la-Forêt, Normandy
 youngest and ablest of William I the Conqueror's sons, who as king of England (1100–35) strengthened the crown's executive powers and, like his father, also ruled Normandy (from 1106).

      Henry was crowned at Westminster on Aug. 5, 1100, three days after his brother, King William II, William the Conqueror's second son, had been killed in a hunting accident. Duke Robert Curthose (Robert II), the eldest of the three brothers, who by Norman custom had succeeded to his father's inheritance in Normandy, was returning from the First Crusade and could not assert his own claim to the English throne until the following year. The succession was precarious, however, because a number of wealthy Anglo-Norman barons supported Duke Robert, and Henry moved quickly to gain all the backing he could. He issued an ingenious Charter of Liberties, which purported to end capricious taxes, confiscations of church revenues, and other abuses of his predecessor. By his marriage with Matilda, a Scottish princess of the old Anglo-Saxon royal line, he established the foundations for peaceable relations with the Scots and support from the English. And he recalled St. Anselm (Anselm of Canterbury, Saint), the scholarly archbishop of Canterbury whom his brother, William II, had banished.

      When Robert Curthose finally invaded England in 1101, several of the greatest barons defected to him. But Henry, supported by a number of his barons, most of the Anglo-Saxons, and St. Anselm, worked out an amicable settlement with the invaders. Robert relinquished his claim to England, receiving in return Henry's own territories in Normandy and a large annuity.

      Although a crusading hero, Robert was a self-indulgent, vacillating ruler who allowed Normandy to slip into chaos. Norman churchmen who fled to England urged Henry to conquer and pacify the duchy and thus provided moral grounds for Henry's ambition to reunify his father's realm at his brother's expense. Paving his way with bribes to Norman barons and agreements with neighbouring princes, in 1106 Henry routed Robert's army at Tinchebrai in southwestern Normandy and captured Robert, holding him prisoner for life.

      Between 1104 and 1106 Henry had been in the uncomfortable position of posing, in Normandy, as a champion of the church while fighting with his own archbishop of Canterbury. St. Anselm had returned from exile in 1100 dedicated to reforms of Pope Paschal II, which were designed to make the church independent of secular sovereigns. Following papal bans against lay lords investing (Investiture Controversy) churchmen with their lands and against churchmen rendering homage to laymen, Anselm refused to consecrate bishops whom Henry had invested and declined to do homage to Henry himself. Henry regarded bishoprics and abbeys not only as spiritual offices but as great sources of wealth. Since in many cases they owed the crown military services, he was anxious to maintain the feudal bond between the bishops and the crown.

      Ultimately, the issues of ecclesiastical homage and lay investiture forced Anselm into a second exile. After numerous letters and threats between king, pope, and archbishop, a compromise was concluded shortly before the Battle of Tinchebrai and was ratified in London in 1107. Henry relinquished his right to invest churchmen while Anselm submitted on the question of homage. With the London settlement and the English victory at Tinchebrai, the Anglo-Norman state was reunified and at peace.

      In the years following, Henry married his daughter Matilda (also called Maud) to Emperor Henry V of Germany and groomed his only legitimate son, William, as his successor. Henry's right to Normandy was challenged by William Clito, son of the captive Robert Curthose, and Henry was obliged to repel two major assaults against eastern Normandy by William Clito's supporters: Louis VI of France, Count Fulk of Anjou, and the restless Norman barons who detested Henry's ubiquitous officials and high taxes. By 1120, however, the barons had submitted, Henry's son had married into the Angevin house, and Louis VI—defeated in battle—had concluded a definitive peace.

      The settlement was shattered in November 1120, when Henry's son perished in a shipwreck of the “White Ship,” destroying Henry's succession plans. After Queen Matilda's death in 1118, he married Adelaide of Louvain in 1121, but this union proved childless. On Emperor Henry V's death in 1125, Henry summoned the empress Matilda back to England and made his barons do homage to her as his heir. In 1128 Matilda married Geoffrey Plantagenet (Geoffrey IV), heir to the county of Anjou, and in 1133 she bore him her first son, the future king Henry II. When Henry I died at Lyons-la-Forêt in eastern Normandy, his favourite nephew, Stephen of Blois, disregarding Matilda's right of succession, seized the English throne. Matilda's subsequent invasion of England unleashed a bitter civil war that ended with King Stephen's death and Henry II's unopposed accession in 1154.

      Henry I was a skillful, intelligent monarch who achieved peace in England, relative stability in Normandy, and notable administrative advances on both sides of the Channel. Under Henry, the Anglo-Norman state his father had created was reunited. Royal justices began making systematic tours of the English shires, but, although his administrative policies were highly efficient, they were not infrequently regarded as oppressive. His reign marked a significant advance from the informal, personal monarchy of former times toward the bureaucratized state that lay in the future. It also marked a shift from the wide-ranging imperialism of earlier Norman leaders to consolidation and internal development. In the generations before Henry's accession, Norman dukes, magnates, and adventurers had conquered southern Italy, Sicily, Antioch, and England. Henry won his major battles but preferred diplomacy or bribery to the risks of the battlefield. Subduing Normandy in 1106, he contented himself with keeping domestic peace, defending his Anglo-Norman state against rebellion and invasion, and making alliances with neighbouring princes.

C. Warren Hollister

Additional Reading
There exists no adequate biography of Henry I. A.L. Poole, From Domesday Book to Magna Carta, 1087–1216, 2nd ed. (1955), contains a good sketch and bibliography of the reign. On Henry's early years, see C.W. David, Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy (1920); on Henry's administration, H.G. Richardson and G.O. Sayles, The Governance of Mediaeval England from the Conquest to Magna Carta (1963); Frank Barlow, The Feudal Kingdom of England 1042–1216, 5th ed. (1999); and Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, vol. 2, ed. by H.A. Cronne and Charles Johnson (1956).

▪ king of France
born c. 1008
died Aug. 2 or 4, 1060, Vitry-aux-Loges, France

      king of France from 1026 to 1060 whose reign was marked by struggles against rebellious vassals.

      The son of Robert II the Pious (Robert II) and grandson of Hugh Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty, Henry was anointed king at Reims (1026) in his father's lifetime, following the death of his elder brother Hugh. His mother, Constance, however, favoured his younger brother Robert for the throne, and civil war broke out on King Robert II's death (1031). The younger Robert was given Burgundy in 1032, after Henry had sought refuge with Robert, Duke of Normandy. From 1033 to 1043 Henry struggled with his feudatories, notably Eudes of Blois and his brother Robert. In 1055, as the result of an agreement made by Robert II, the county of Sens came to the crown as the sole territorial gain of Henry's reign. He attempted to strengthen his rulership through new court officials, and he twice contracted an important marriage alliance with members of the Salian dynasty, rulers of the Holy Roman Empire: he was betrothed to Conrad II's niece, who died before the marriage could be formalized, and married Henry III's daughter.

      Henry helped William (the future William I of England), Robert's successor as duke of Normandy, to quell his rebellious vassals at the Battle of Val-aux-Dunes (or Val-ès-Dunes; 1047), but he was thereafter usually at war with him—a notable defeat for the king being that at Varaville (1058). Henry tried to resist papal interference but could not prevent Pope Leo IX from holding a council at Reims (1049). Philip, elder son of Henry's marriage to Anne of Kiev, was crowned in 1059.

▪ king of Germany
also called  Henry the Fowler , German  Heinrich der Vogler 
born c. 876
died July 2, 936, Memleben, Saxony [now in Germany]

      German king and founder of the Saxon dynasty (918–1024) who strengthened the East Frankish, or German, army, encouraged the growth of towns, brought Lotharingia (Lorraine) back under German control (925), and secured German borders against pagan incursions.

      The son of Otto the Illustrious, the Liudolfing duke of Saxony, Henry became duke at his father's death (912). His first marriage, to Hatheburg, daughter of Erwin, count of Merseburg, was declared invalid because she had become a nun after her first husband's death. He married Matilda, daughter of Dietrich, count of Westphalia, in 909; their eldest son would rule as the Holy Roman emperor Otto I the Great (936–973).

      Although at war (912–915) with Conrad I of Franconia (German king, 903–918) over title to lands in Thuringia, Henry received Conrad's deathbed designation as heir to the throne. He was elected king of Germany (May 919) by nobles of Saxony and Franconia, two of the four most influential duchies; the other two important duchies, Swabia and Bavaria, did not recognize him as king.

      Henry considered Germany a confederation of duchies rather than a nation. Having complete authority in Saxony and nominal sovereignty in Franconia, he sought to bring the duchies of Swabia and Bavaria into the confederation. After forcing the submission of Burchard, duke of Swabia (919), he allowed the duke to retain control over the civil administration of the duchy. On the basis of an election by Bavarian and East Frankish nobles (919), Arnulf, duke of Bavaria, also claimed the German throne. In 921, after two military campaigns, the king forced Arnulf to submit and relinquish his claim to the throne, though the duke retained complete internal control of Bavaria.

      Henry defeated Giselbert, king of Lotharingia, in 925, and that region, which had become independent of Germany in 910, was brought back under German control. Giselbert, who was recognized as duke of Lotharingia, married the king's daughter Gerberga in 928.

      When the Magyars (Hungarian), barbarian warriors from Hungary, invaded Germany in 924, Henry agreed to pay tribute to them and return a captured Magyar chief in exchange for a nine-year (924–933) cession of raids on German territory. During these years the king built fortified towns and trained the cavalry force he used to defeat various Slavic tribes; he conquered the Havelli at Brandenburg and the Daleminzi at Meissen in 928 and suppressed a rebellion in Bohemia in 929. The king refused to pay more tribute when the nine-year truce ended in 933. He used his seasoned cavalry to destroy the Magyars, who had resumed their raids, at Riade on March 15, 933, and ended their threat to the German countryside. The king's last campaign, an invasion of Denmark (934), added the territory of Schleswig to the German state.

      The story that Henry received the surname Fowler because he was laying bird snares when informed of his election as king is probably a myth.

▪ king of Navarre
byname  Henry The Fat,  Spanish  Enrique El Gordo,  French  Henri Le Gros 
born c. 1210
died July 22, 1274, Pamplona, Navarre

      king of Navarre (1270–74) and count (as Henry III) of Champagne. Henry was the youngest son of Theobald I of Navarre by Margaret of Foix. He succeeded his eldest brother, Theobald II (Thibaut V), in both kingdom and countship in December 1270. By his marriage (1269) to Blanche, daughter of Robert I of Artois and niece of Louis IX of France, he had one daughter, Joan, whom, by the Convention of Bonlieu (Nov. 30, 1273), he promised to one of the two sons of Edward I of England, Henry and Alfonso. This would have led to a union of his dominions with English Gascony, but it came to nothing. King Henry died in 1274; both the English princes died in the next decade, and Joan was married in 1284 to the future Philip IV of France.

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Universalium. 2010.

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