Henry I (France)

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Henry I (* 1008 before May 17, † August 4, 1060 in Vitry-aux-Loges near Orléans ) was a king of France from the Capetian dynasty from 1031 to 1060 .

Henry I meets with the Duke of the Normans, Robert the Magnificent. Depiction from the Chroniques de Saint-Denis , 14th century.

Heinrich is one of the least known medieval kings of France, for which the lack of a biography dedicated to him may be partly responsible. Under his rule, the decline of royal authority over the growing nobility, against which he tried to fight for a long time, increased. This was reflected, among other things, in his nickname Municeps , which was added during his lifetime, but is hardly known today , which means something like "subjugator". The monk Andreas von Fleury, who had recorded this epithet in the Miracula Sancti Benedicti , explained it because of the constant conquering (i.e. subjugating) of castles, with which Heinrich was occupied throughout his life.


Heinrich was the second son of the West Franconian, ie French King Roberts II the Pious and his third wife Constanze of Provence . His older brother Hugo Magnus was crowned (co) king in 1017 and thus designated as the designated successor in sole rule. After the father had already subjugated the Burgundian ducat to his rule by 1016 , Heinrich was appointed duke in a compromise solution with the Burgundian nobility, who insisted on autonomy. Hugo Magnus had died in 1025, Henry was determined by the father as well eldest son to succeed, which by its in on May 14, 1027 Reims carried coronation was confirmed.

Succession struggle

Robert II's succession plan did not meet with unanimous approval within the royal family. Queen Konstanze favored the third son, Robert , as successor on the throne and consequently conspired against Heinrich. When King Robert II died in 1031, the battle for the throne broke out, and the authority of the crown suffered severe damage because the powerful vassals of the empire knew how to use this to expand their power. The party of Constance and Roberts received the support of Count Odo II of Blois , who had already opposed the crown during the reign of Robert II and, with the acquisition of Champagne, geographically put the kingship in the so-called Île-de-France in its place would have. Heinrich was able to fight him with Count Fulko III. Nerra of Anjou and the Norman Duke Robert the Magnificent win two powerful followers for themselves. The situation culminated in the struggle for the seat of the French church primate in Sens , held by Count Odo, but besieged by Heinrich from 1032. This was able to weaken the coalition of his opponents in the same year by persuading his brother Robert to give up his claims to the throne and compensating him with the Duchy of Burgundy.

The final decision was made indirectly through the death of King Rudolf III. brought about by Burgundy in 1033. Count Odo II of Blois hoped to succeed him as king in the Kingdom of Burgundy ( regnum Aerelatense ), but there came into the interests of the Roman-German Emperor Conrad II , who himself intended to add the Burgundian Regnum to his empire, namely because of a Decree of inheritance that the late king once made with his predecessor, Emperor Heinrich II . In May 1033 Heinrich and Emperor Konrad II met in Deville in Lorraine and agreed to take action against Odo. The emperor then invaded Champagne, which finally forced Odo to find a compromise with Heinrich in 1034 by giving up his final renunciation of rule in Sens as well as giving up his support for the queen mother Konstanze.

Heinrich had thus been able to assert himself on the throne; compared to the great liege princes, however, he was only arrested in one position as “first among equals”. He had to leave the southern Vexin (Norman Vexin) to the Norman Duke, who was allied with him, as an allowance for expenses, from which a generational dispute between the Crown and the Normans would later develop. He could not benefit from the death of Odos II in 1037, as his sons could follow unhindered in his lands.

William the bastard

In 1035, Duke Robert the Magnificent of Normandy died and, according to his will, his still underage bastard son Wilhelm (later the "Conqueror") followed him . Heinrich now had the chance to strengthen his royal position within Normandy, as he was now able to act as the patron saint of young Wilhelm and as a defender of his rights against his competitors. In fact, Normandy sank into anarchy in the years to come and the young duke's wards fell one after the other to the bloody power struggles. In 1047, Heinrich decided to settle the situation personally by taking an army to Normandy, defeating the rebels in the Battle of Val-ès-Dunes and thus securing Wilhelm the duchy. With him as a loyal ally, Heinrich turned against Count Gottfried II. Martel von Anjou , who had become too powerful, but who proved to be a strong military opponent and was able to expand beyond Maine into Normandy by the year 1052 .

The year 1052 was the turning point in the relationship between Heinrich and Duke Wilhelm, when he married a daughter of the powerful Count Baldwin V of Flanders with Heinrich's sister Adela . Wilhelm had pursued this intention for a number of years, but at the second council of Reims (1049) by Pope Leo IX. personally received a ban on this connection. The breach of this command was actually tantamount to an emancipation from the interests of Heinrich, because for reasons of power politics he wanted a good understanding with his clergy and the Pope, especially since the latter was a confidante of Emperor Heinrich III. was, to whom Heinrich was in turn related by his marriage. In addition, the connection between Normandy and Flanders in northern France gave rise to a power bloc to which the kingship in Île-de-France was inferior.

Heinrich reacted to Wilhelm's unauthorized action with a reconciliation with Count Gottfried II of Anjou and agreed military action against Wilhelm in order to force him back under his domination. In the Battle of Mortemer in 1054, however, they surprisingly suffered a heavy defeat against William and the subsequent defeat in the Battle of Varaville in 1057 sealed the end of royal authority in Normandy. Heinrich was then unable to do anything against Wilhelm, especially after Count Gottfried II. Of Anjou, his only notable ally, died in 1060 and his heirs fought each other.

Last years

Document from Henry I dated July 12, 1058 (?) For the Saint-Maur-des-Fossés monastery . Paris, Archives Nationales, No. 101

During the last ten years of his life, Heinrich fell into a largely inactive state in which the decline in power of the kingship was manifested against the princes of the kingdom, against whom the crown was in fact unable to act. Even within the Île-de-France, which represented the direct sphere of influence of the king ( crown domain ), the local lords of the castle appeared increasingly independent and led bloody feuds among themselves, a condition that still existed for Henry's grandson, King Louis VI. the fat one was decisive in his rule. Heinrich was indifferent to the prevailing feuds among the feudal and castle nobility. First and foremost, however, the clergy of the country took precedence, albeit with limited success, through the first proclamations of the peace of God (French: Paix de Dieu) and then later of God's truce (French: Trêve de Dieu).

Relations with the East Franconian Empire had deteriorated increasingly when Heinrich married a daughter of the Grand Duke of Kiev after the death of his first wife and thus joined a network of anti-imperial powers. The situation was further clouded when in 1052 the monks of the monastery Sankt-Emmeram in Regensburg made the claim that the bones of the martyr and Saint Dionysius were in their possession. Allegedly King Arnulf once had the bones transferred to Regensburg as booty after a campaign in western Francia. After Emperor Heinrich III. Having listened to these claims and claiming patronage from the eastern regnum on the first saints of the western regnum, Henry and the monks of Saint-Denis felt provoked to a challenge. After all, Frankish kings from the Merovingian , Carolingian and, most recently, Capetian dynasties were buried at Dionysius's side . For western Francia this amounted to an attack on their prestige and for the abbey itself an existential damage to its reputation. In order to prove the falseness of this claim, Heinrich had the grave of Dionysius opened to make sure that his bones remained in it. Then he even traveled personally to Regensburg to settle this dispute with the monks and the emperor. Pope Leo IX, also present there. finally knew how to solve the situation in an acceptable way for all parties by canonizing the two former Regensburg bishops Erhard and Wolfgang and thus persuading the monks of Sankt-Emmeram to give up their claims to the bones of Dionysius.

Henry I's grave in Saint-Denis

Relations with Emperor Heinrich III. remained clouded, however. At a meeting held in Ivois in 1056 , a scandal broke out after Heinrich accused the emperor of breach of contract. Presumably the resentment between king and emperor was sparked by the feudal affair of Count Theobald I of Champagne towards the emperor a few years earlier , even though he was a vassal of the West Franconian Empire. The meeting in Ivois ended in a dispute between east and west rulers, allegedly the emperor even wanted to fight a duel with Heinrich, from which he escaped by fleeing. The further drifting apart of the two Franconian parts of the empire was thus additionally promoted.

However, Heinrich was able to successfully arrange his succession by obtaining the approval of the great and especially the clergy for the coronation of his son Philip I as (co) king in 1059. At his death in 1060 his son was still underage, which is why his widow Anna of Kiev formally took over the reign.



Hugo the Great
Hadwig of Saxony
(? –959)
William III. of Aquitaine
(? –963)
Gerloc -Adele
(? -?)
Boso II of Arles
(? –965/67)
Constanze von Vienne
(? -?)
Fulko II of Anjou
(? –958)
(? -?)
Hugo Capet
Adelheid of Aquitaine
William I of Provence
(? –993)
Adelheid of Anjou
(? -1026)
Robert II the Pious
Constanze of Provence
Heinrich I

Marriages and descendants

In Deville in 1033 Heinrich and Emperor Konrad II agreed on his engagement with his daughter Mathilde . However, she died in 1034 without the marriage being able to be concluded.

In the same year he married another East Franconian noblewoman named Mathilde , who is believed to be a daughter of Margrave Liudolf von Friesland and a niece of Emperor Heinrich III. was. She died in 1044, shortly after their daughter, whose name was unknown.

In his second marriage, Heinrich married Princess Anna on May 19, 1051 , a daughter of Grand Duke Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev . He had the following children with her:


  • Jan Dhondt: Les relations entre la France et la Normandie sous Henri Ier. In: Normannia. No. 12, 1939, pp. 465-486.
  • Andreas Kraus: Saint-Denis and Regensburg. On the motifs and effects of high medieval counterfeits. In: Forgeries in the Middle Ages. International congress of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica Munich, 16. – 19. September 1986. Part 3, Hahn, Hannover 1988, ISBN 3-7752-5158-8 , pp. 535-549.
  • Rolf Grosse: Saint-Denis between nobility and king. The time before Suger 1053–1122 (= supplements of Francia . Volume 57). Thorbecke, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-7995-7451-4 , pp. 19-24.

Web links

Commons : Henry I of France  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Adrevald, Aimon, André, Raoul Tortaire et Hugues de Sainte-Marie, Moines de Fleury: Les Miracles de Saint Benôit , ed. by E. de Certain in: La Société de l'histoire de France (1858), sixth book, chap. XIV, p. 240
predecessor Office successor
Robert II the Pious King of France 1031-1060
Blason pays for FranceAncien.svg
Philip I.