1902 Encyclopedia > Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor

Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor
(1017-1056)




HENRY III. (1017-1056), Holy Roman emperor, was the son of Conrad II., the founder of the Franconian dynasty. He was born in 1017, and his father, anxious to make the succession secure and to strengthen the authority of the crown, caused him to be elected German king in 1026, creating him in 1027 duke of Bavaria, and in 1038 duke of Swabia and king of Burgundy. He became the reigning sovereign of Germany in 1039, at the age of twenty-two. Of an upright and resolute temper, he soon made his power felt both in church and state. The policy he pursued was that which had been followed by Otto I. during the early part of his reign : that is, he granted as many of the duchies as possible either to members of his own family or to vassals on whose loyalty he could rely. Duke Gottfried of Lower Lorraine, who laid claim to Upper Lorraine also, was the only prince who gave him serious trouble, and even this impetuous opponent could not effectually resist the great emperor. Henry was as distinguished in his wars as in his home government. Duke Bretislaus of Bohemia, who gave signs of aspiring to an independent position, invaded Poland, plundered its chief cities, and as a mark of his triumph carried away the body of St Adalbert from Gnesen to Prague. Henry proceeded against him in 1041, and forced him to appear in the following year at Ratisbon in penitent's garb, and to accept Bohemia in fief of the German crown. Having settled this difficulty, he began in 1042 a series of campaigns in Hungary, where for the first time he asserted the supremacy of Germany. In Italy he was equally successful, not only maintaining his right to the Lombard crown, but establishing supremacy over the Normans in Apulia and Calabria. At this time the moral condition of the church was regarded with regret and concern by every serious nature, and Henry, who was of a deeply religious tendency, associated himself heartily with the movement for reform which proceeded from Cluny. At a council of prelates in Sutri in 1046, he caused the rival popes, Benedict IX., Sylvester II, and Gregory VI., to be deposed, and raised to the papal see, as Clement II., Suitger, bishop of Bamberg. Three other German bishops, one after the other, were appointed to the same position; and as all of them were devout men and energetic administrators, they did much to purify the ecclesiastical system of Europe. During their rule the papacy was held in strict subjection to the empire ; but the very earnestness with which Henry applied himself to the task of making the church worthy of its mission created grave dangers for the state, since it was improbable that a pope of proud and independent spirit would be content with a subordinate position. The mag-| nitude of the peril soon revealed itself when Hildebrand became pope during the reign of Henry IV., Henry III.'s son and successor. Henry died in the prime of life in 1056 at Botfeld.

See Steindorff, Jahrbucher des Deutschen Reichs unter Heinrich III. (Leipsic, 1874).







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