Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor

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HENRY VII, HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR

Reigned Nov. 27, 1308, to Aug. 24, 1313; b. Henry IV of Luxembourg, between 1269 and 1279. Henry was chosen king of the Romans and emperor-elect after the assassination of Albert of Hapsburg. He was crowned in ceremonies held at Aachen on Jan. 6, 1309. He proved himself an able diplomat north of the Alps and founded his dynasty's fortunes. In Italy Henry failed. Arriving in

October of 1310, he had intended to arbitrate internecine disputes, pacify imperial Italy, and establish imperial rule and administration, as well as be crowned emperor. His attempts to rule, however, generated Italian opposition, especially among dominant northern Guelf lords and cities, and Tuscan communes led by florence. A lengthy siege of Brescia demonstrated his weakness, because he had to rely on local lords, especially Ghibellines, for military support, and unwillingly assumed a partisan role. Pope clement v at Avignon turned against Henry, and Robert of Anjou, king of Naples, rebelled. Henry entered Rome by force, and was crowned emperor, June 29, 1312. A six-week siege of Florence ended unsuccessfully on Oct. 31, 1312. In August 1313, Henry left Pisa to invade Naples, but died of malaria at Buonconvento, near Siena. His was the last sincere attempt of a Holy Roman emperor to establish imperial rule in Italy. The medieval Christian Empire had proven unable to defeat the combination of city-states, lay kingdoms, and a secularly oriented Avignon papacy. Henry was the "alto Arrigo" (high Henry) of Dante's Divine Comedy.

Bibliography: w. m. bowsky, Henry VII in Italy: The Conflict of Empire and City-State, 13101313 (Lincoln, NE 1960). f. cognasso, "L'unificazione di Lombardia sotto Milano," Storia di Milano, ed. g. treccani degli alfieri (Milan 1953) 5:399. r. davidsohn, Geschiehte von Florenz, 4 v. (Berlin 18961927) 3:345552.

[w. m. bowsky]