Henry IV, Roman Emperor
HENRY IV, ROMAN EMPEROR
Reigned 1056 to Aug. 7, 1106; b. Goslar, Germany, Nov. 11, 1050; d. Liège, buried Speyer. In 1056, on the death of his father, henry iii, he obtained the throne under the regency of his mother, Agnes of Poitou, and of anno of cologne and adalbert of bremen. After reaching his majority in 1065, he married Bertha of Saxony and inaugurated a policy aimed at extending the royal power, which had declined during the regency. The investiture struggle arose out of Henry's concern over the weakening of his power over the German bishops, who exercised broad authority and influence in the empire, and over his unwillingness to accommodate the principles of the gregorian reform.
The revolt of Saxony in 1073 had led to stern measures of repression on Henry's part, including the imprisonment of rebellious Saxon bishops. Moreover, the period of the regency had witnessed the return of open simony. gregory vii, elected in 1073, decided to take a firm hand in these matters. In 1075 he promulgated his decree against lay investiture and stated his theory of papal control over the bishops. Henry regarded this act as an invasion of his rights, ignored the pope, and intervened in episcopal elections in Milan. The papal legates summoned Henry to Rome. The emperor's response was the deposition of the Pope at Worms, supported by the majority of the German hierarchy (Jan. 24, 1076), an act later ratified by a meeting of North Italian bishops. Undeterred, Gregory excommunicated the emperor (February 14), forbidding his subjects in Germany and Italy to do him homage, thus virtually inviting the restive German nobility to rebel. This move was successful and Henry was ordered to appear before a German synod to be presided over by the pope and set for February 1077. He anticipated this unwelcome meeting by hastening to Canossa, where he did penance and received the absolution of the pope (Jan. 28, 1077). But the German princes, bent on preventing further growth of royal authority, ignored the reconciliation and elected Rudolf of Swabia as king. Henry faced a civil war. Again excommunicated by Gregory in May 1080, the emperor deposed the pope anew and secured the election of guibert of ravenna as Antipope Clement III. He then turned his attention to Rome. In June 1083 he entered the Leonine City and was crowned emperor in St. Peter's by Clement (Easter 1084). With the arrival of Robert Guiscard and the normans, Henry was forced to suspend operations. He returned to Germany, where Herman of Luxembourg, chosen successor to Rudolf, led the opposition. Henry's war with Gregory continued as a propaganda struggle until the pope died in 1085. After the brief reign of victor iii, Henry renewed his quarrel with urban ii. But revolt by his son Conrad (d. 1101) forced him to abandon Italy and his antipope. His attempt to arrange terms with pascal ii failed, and he found himself once more excommunicated in 1102. Finally, his son henry v revolted successfully in 1104, and Henry died in battle against him. His attempt to increase royal authority in the midst of the Gregorian reform ended in his own defeat and in the weakening of the empire.
Bibliography: g. meyer von knonau, Jahrbücher des deutschen Reiches unter Heinrich IV und Heinrich V, 7 v. (Leipzig 1890–1909). t. lindner, Kaiser Heinrich IV (Berlin 1881). k. hampe, Deutsche Kaisergeschichte in der Zeit der Salier und Staufer, ed. f. baethgen (10th ed. Heidelberg 1949). a. fliche and v. martin eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours (Paris 1935–) v.8. b. schmeidler, Kaiser Heinrich IV und seine Helfer im Investiturstreit (Leipzig 1927). g. tellenbach, Church, State and Christian Society at the Time of Investiture Contest (Oxford 1959). k. f. morrison, "Canossa: A Revision," Traditio 18 (1962) 121–148.
[j. m. powell]