Henry I (Champagne)

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Henry I ( French: Henri ; * 1126 ; † March 16, 1181 in Troyes ), called the Generous (le Libéral), was a Count of Champagne from the House of Blois since 1151 . He was the eldest son of Count Theobald the Great and his wife Mathilde of Carinthia.


On behalf of his father, Heinrich took part in the Second Crusade in the entourage of King Ludwig VII , where he was knighted in Constantinople by Emperor Manuel I Komnenos . In 1151 he supported Count Gottfried VI together with the king . von Anjou against his older brother Heinrich Plantagenet .

When his father died, Heinrich took over Champagne and left the other dominions, including Blois , Chartres , Châteaudun and Sancerre, to his younger brothers, thus choosing for himself the part of the family property that was economically more important due to the large fairs . Through this division, the personal union of the territories of the Blois was permanently dissolved, but Heinrich continued to ensure the undivided power of his house by obliging his younger brothers to obey him. This feudal relationship was to be passed on to their descendants and was only ended in 1234 by Heinrich's grandson Theobald IV .

Under Henry, the House of Blois revised its traditionally hostile attitude towards the king , which in 1160 led to the marriage of Heinrich's sister, Adela , to the king. Through his sister, the House of Blois gained a dominant influence on the royal court, as she was in reign during her husband's lifetime. Heinrich himself married Princess Marie , a daughter of the king from his first marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine , four years later . In the role of a mediator, Heinrich represented his king in conflicts with Heinrich Plantagenet or Emperor Friedrich I. Barbarossa . Especially during the schism between Pope Alexander III. and the emperor, Heinrich tried his hand at mediating and offered the emperor homage if he did not succeed in reconciling his king, who supported Pope Alexander, with the emperor. In fact, on August 9, 1162, a compromise between the two parties at Saint-Jean-de-Losne failed due to Alexander III's refusal, after which Henry declared himself a vassal of the emperor.

In 1179 Heinrich moved to the Holy Land a second time . On his return trip via Asia Minor he was captured by the Seljuq Kılıç Arslan II , but was released again after an intervention by Emperor Manuel. His absence meant that his family's influence on the crown collapsed after the death of King Louis VII in 1180. Because the new King Philip II , Henry's nephew, got rid of the tutelage of his mother's family and allied himself with Count Philip I of Flanders .

Heinrich returned to his homeland in 1181, where he died a little later and was buried in the Saint-Etienne church in Troyes, which he founded. He established an orderly rule over the nobility of Champagne and was able to rely on the help of around 2000 vassals, which in turn made him a noble who was hardly equal in France. Champagne became a safe place for merchants, and the fairs held in Champagne became a central point of trade and finance in medieval Europe. In addition, his court in Troyes became a famous literary and spiritual center, attracting eminent scholars such as Walter Map . Heinrich himself was more interested in intellectual education and founded a large library, he was also of a pious nature and generously donated religious institutions, which earned him his nickname. At the same time, his wife was mistress of one of the most splendid courts of high medieval France in Troyes, where important poets such as Chrétien de Troyes and Conon de Béthune were patronized.


Heinrich and Marie's children were:

  • Henry II (born July 29, 1166 - † September 10, 1197 in Akkon ), Count of Champagne and King of Jerusalem (uxor nomine)
  • Marie (* around 1174; † August 9, 1204 in Palestine)
    • ⚭ on January 6, 1186 Baldwin IX. († 1205), Count of Flanders and Hainaut, Emperor of Constantinople
  • Theobald III. (13 May 1179 - 24 May 1201), Count of Champagne
  • Scholastics († 1219)
    • ⚭ Count Wilhelm V of Macon and Vienne († 1224)

Web links

predecessor Office successor
Theobald II. Count of Champagne 1151–1181
Blason region for Champagne-Ardenne.svg
Henry II