Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor

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Henry IV (German: Heinrich IV) (11 November 1050 – 7 August 1106) was King of Germany from 1056 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1084 until his forced abdication in 1105. He was the third emperor of the Salian dynasty and one of the most powerful and important figures of the 11th century. His reign was marked by the Investiture Controversy with the Papacy and several civil wars with pretenders to his throne in Italy and Germany.

Contents

Biography

Henry was only six years old when he succeeded, and his mother, Agnes de Poitou, became regent, but in 1062 the young king was kidnapped as a result of a conspiracy of German nobles led by archbishop Anno II of Cologne. Henry, who was at Kaiserwerth, was persuaded to board a boat lying in the Rhine; it was immediately unmoored and the king jumped into the stream, but was rescued by one of the conspirators and carried to Cologne. Agnes retired to a convent, and the government was placed in the hands of Anno. His first move was to recognize Pope Alexander II in his conflict with the antipope Honorius II, who had been initially recognized by Agnes but was subsequently left without support.

Anno's rule proved unpopular. The education and training of Henry were supervised by Anno, who was called his magister, while Adalbert of Hamburg, archbishop of Bremen, was styled Henry's patronus. Henry's education seems to have been neglected, and his willful and headstrong nature developed under the conditions of these early years. The malleable Adalbert of Hamburg soon became the confidant of the ruthless Henry. Eventually, during an absence of Anno from Germany, Henry managed to obtain control of his civil duties, leaving Anno only with the ecclesiastical ones.

First years of rule and the Saxon Wars

In March 1065 Henry was declared of age. The whole of his future reign was apparently marked by efforts to consolidate Imperial power. In reality, however, it was a careful balancing act between maintaining the loyalty of the nobility and the support of the pope.

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