Henry I of Navarre

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Henry I the Fat (French: Henri le Gros, Spanish: Enrique el Gordo) (c. 1244 – 22 July 1274) was the Count of Champagne and Brie (as Henry III) and King of Navarre from 1270. After a brief reign, characterised, it is said, by dignity and talent, he died in July 1274, suffocated, according to the generally received accounts, by his own fat.

Henry was the youngest son of Theobald I of Navarre and Margaret of Bourbon. During the reign of his older brother Theobald II he held the regency during many of Theobald's numerous absences and was declared heir by his childless brother, whom he succeeded in December 1270. His proclamation at Pamplona, however, did not take place till March of the following year (1271), and his coronation was delayed until May 1273. His first act was the swear to uphold the Fueros of Navarre and then go to perform homage to Philip III of France for Champagne.

In 1269 Henry had married Blanche of Artois, daughter of Robert I of Artois and niece of Louis IX of France. He was thus in the "Angevin" circle in international politics. He came to the throne at the height of an economic boom in Navarre that was not happening elsewhere in Spain at as great a rate. But by the Treaty of Paris (1259), the English had been ceded rights in Gascony that effectively cut off Navarrese access to the ocean (since France, Navarre's ally, was at odds with England).

Henry allowed the Pamplonese burg of Navarrería to disentangle itself from the union of San Cernin and San Nicolás, effected in 1266. He also granted privileges to the towns of Estella, Arcos, and Viana, fostering urban growth. His relations with the nobility were, on the whole, friendly, though he was prepared to maintain the peace of his realm at nearly any cost.

Henry initially sought to recover territory lost to Castile by assisting the revolt of Philip, brother of Alfonso X of Castile, in 1270, but eventually declined, preferring to establish an alliance with Castile through the marriage of his son Theobald to a daughter of Alfonso X. This failed with the death of the young Theobald in after he fell from a battlement at the castle of Estella in 1273.

Henry did not long outlive his son. He died with no male heir; the male line of the house of Champagne became extinct. He was thus succeeded by his only legitimate child, a one-year-old daughter named Joan, under the regency of her mother Blanche. Joan's 1284 marriage to Philip the Fair, the future King of France, in the same year united the crown of Navarre to that of France and saw Champagne devolve to the French royal domain.

In the Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, a younger contemporary, sees Henry's spirit outside the gates of Purgatory, where he is grouped with a number of other European monarchs of the 13th century. Henry is not named directly, but is referred to as "the kindly-faced" and "the father-in-law of the Pest of France".

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