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Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor
Some sources give Henry's date of birth as 6 May 973. He was the son of Henry the Quarrelsome of Bavaria. As his father had rebelled against two previous emperors, he was often in exile. This led the younger Henry to turn to the Church at an early age, first finding refuge with Bishop Abraham of Freising and later being educated at the Cathedral School of Hildesheim. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995 as Henry IV.
Henry was on his way to Rome to save his besieged cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, when the emperor died in January 1002. Knowing that opposition to his succession was strong, Henry quickly seized the royal insignia from his dead cousin's companions. Rivals such as Eckhard of Meissen and Duke Herman of Swabia strongly contested Henry's election, but with the aid of Archbishop Willigis of Mainz he was able to secure his election and corontaion on (7 June 1002 in Mainz), though it would be a year before he was universally recognized.
Henry spent the next several years consolidating his political power on his borders. He waged a successful campaign against King Boleslaus I of Poland and then moved into Italy to confront Arduin of Ivrea , who had styled himself King of Italy. The Italian campaign was harsh and full of atrocity and in the end he had to give it up and return his attention to Poland; he was, however, crowned King of Italy at Pavia on May 15, 1004. In his second campaign against Boleslaus, he allied with the pagan Liutitians against the Christian Poles and waged successful campaigns that culminated in a lasting compromise peace with the Poles in 1018 in which Boleslaus was allowed to retain Lusatia and Misnia but gave up Bohemia.
Henry returned to Italy for another campaign in 1013 and went straight to Rome, where Pope Benedict VIII crowned him Holy Roman Emperor on 14 February 1014. He took his duties to Italy seriously and appointed German officials to administer the country. He returned to Italy for a third and final campaign in 1020 in which he reasserted his control and attended a synod at Pavia where he advocated Church reform.
Henry's most significant contributions as emperor came in the realm of Church-State relations and Church administration within the Empire. He supported the bishops against the monastic clergy and aided them in establishing secular rule over broad territories to go with their spiritual power. He made sure to enforce celibacy amongst the clergy so that the land he granted would not be passed on to heirs. This ensured that the bishops remained loyal to him and provided a powerful bulwark against rebellious nobles and ambitious familty members. Henry also founded the diocese of Bamberg in 1007, which quickly became a center of scholarship and art.
Henry had been working with the Pope to call a church council to confirm his new system of ecclesiastico-political control when he died suddenly in 1024, leaving this work unfinished. Henry and his wife, Cunigunde of Luxemburg, had no children, reportedly because they had taken a mutual vow of chastity. The Church canonized Henry (1146) and Cunigunde (1200) after their deaths.
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