Heinrich II. (Hesse)

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Heinrich II. , Called Der Eiserne (* before 1302 ; † June 3, 1376 ) was Landgrave of Hesse from 1328 until his death in 1376. He had been co-regent since 1320/21. Heinrich II. Was the son of Otto I of Hesse and grandson of Heinrich I. He comes from the noble family of Reginare .


Heinrich continued the conflict with Kurmainz , which his father had already waged and which was closely interwoven with the Dernbach feud . He triumphed over the Mainz troops in 1328 in the battle of Wetzlar , in which the Mainz-Nassau field captain Johann von Nassau fell. After his main opponent, Archbishop Matthias von Buchegg , died in August 1328, Heinrich compared himself to Mainz and its allies. However, since Mainz had many monasteries, churches and cities in the Landgraviate, conflicts continued to arise, which ended in armed conflicts. These took place in 1336 and 1346, in which even the Heinrichs brothers sided with Kurmainz. In 1354 there was a renewed settlement between Hesse and Mainz, in which Heinrich II secured the secular powers over the clergy in the Landgraviate. He gave Kirchhain as a Hessian fiefdom to Mainz, but received the Mainz portion of the Reinhardswald ; later he also bought the Paderborn part.

In 1329 Heinrich II conquered the rulership of Treffurt , whose robber barons were chased out in 1333 and whose rulership was administered jointly by Hesse, Mainz and Thuringia from 1336 onwards. Further acquisitions took place under Henry II, especially in the east of the Landgraviate. In 1346 he acquired Spangenberg from the lords of Spangenberg, who were related to the Treffurt knights, and in 1357 bought part of the Itter estate . In 1360 he acquired together with Elisabeth von Henneberg-Schleusingen (the widow of Count Johann I von Henneberg-Schleusingen ) the rule of Schmalkalden with Schmalkalden and Herrenbreitungen and concluded a mutual inheritance contract with her. The purchase price was 4,300 gold florins.

1347 defeated Henry on the plane between Fritzlar and Gudensberg the Mainzer archbishop Heinrich von Virneburg crucial. The latter was in April 1346 because of his partisanship for Emperor Ludwig IV of Pope Clement VI. , who in that year promoted the election of Charles IV to Rex Romanorum , was deposed and replaced by Gerlach von Nassau . Heinrich von Virneburg ignored the papal decision and argued with Gerlach about the archbishopric until his death in 1353. Landgrave Heinrich supported Gerlach, and after the death of Heinrich von Virneburg, Mainz, due to the defeat of 1347 and Gerlach's promises to Landgrave Heinrich, had to take his Lower and Upper Hessian possessions from the Landgraves as fiefs; only Fritzlar, Amöneburg and Naumburg remained in possession.

In 1340 Heinrich II appointed his only son Otto II "the Schütz" to be co-regent. Since he died in 1366, Heinrich had to look for another successor. First he chose his grandson, Duke Otto von Braunschweig , who was also entitled to inheritance under Franconian law. Why he denied his grandson's inheritance as early as 1367 and instead opted for his nephew Hermann (the next in the line of succession according to Franconian law) can no longer be determined with certainty today. After the Hessian Chronica of William Dilich Henry decided to do so because Otto led a "dissolute life" and remarked carelessly about his grandfather.

Heavy fighting broke out between Hesse and the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg . Around 1370 Otto von Braunschweig looked for allies against the Landgrave and formed the Star League with Count Gottfried VII von Ziegenhain and a large part of the Hessian and parts of the Westphalian, Thuringian and Saxon nobility and knighthood . In 1372 the situation worsened for Heinrich II, when the "Bund der alten Minne" under the leadership of Johann von Nassau turned against the Landgrave in the west of the Landgraviate .

Heinrich's mainstay during this time were his cities. When he retired in 1372 against the federal Sterner, who began Sterner War . From this time on, Heinrich was also looking for further allies and concluded with Friedrich III in 1373 . the Strict , Landgrave of Thuringia, Margrave of Meißen, signed an inheritance protection treaty and gave the emperor a fiefdom of the landgraviate. Hermann the Scholar was in Prague in 1375 with Charles IV , who on December 13, 1375 confirmed the hereditary brotherhood, the fiefdom of Hesse and the fiefdom of Thuringia and Meissen . Heinrich II achieved that Otto von Braunschweig no longer had any prospect of the landgraviate's inheritance. With the Margrave of Meissen and Landgrave of Thuringia, he also had the strength to oppose the knight leagues across the country. So Otto no longer saw any possibility of enforcing his inheritance claims. He responded by signing a peace treaty with Heinrich in 1376 - a year before the landgrave's death. In this contract Otto waived his claims in Hesse. At the latest with the imperial decision in favor of the landgraves and the peace treaty, the front of the knighthood against the landgrave collapsed. Heinrich also achieved that his Landgraviate was now recognized as a whole by the Emperor, which considerably strengthened the power of the House of Hesse . In 1373, the Star Wars resulted in a protective alliance with the city of Hersfeld , which gave the landgraves for the first time secular influence in the sphere of influence of the Imperial Abbey of Hersfeld .

In his residence city of Kassel , Heinrich II founded a new part of the city on the other side of Fulda in 1330, which was called Untereustadt or just Neustadt. A bridge connected the old town with the new town. The old town was also expanded from 1330. The Schloßstraße (part of this street is now the "Graben") and the first new buildings were built on the Brink on the filled-in dry moat of the city fortifications that surrounded the still small settlement . The Oberste Gasse, the Mittelgasse, the Steinweg and the Müllergasse with their cross streets were the first to emerge here. For the citizens who settled here, taxes and levies were temporarily waived (the so-called "Kasseler Freiheit"). Freedom was founded as a separate city with its own mayor, and for a long time after this was no longer the case, this quarter was called "in the freedom".

Heinrich's plan to build a cathedral in freedom was soon abandoned due to the tense financial situation of the Landgraviate. Instead, the much smaller Martinskirche was built , which Heinrich elevated to a cathedral monastery in 1366. The church was not completed until two centuries later. Otherwise, Heinrich opposed the frequent bequests and donations to churches and monasteries in order to limit their secular power. This was one of the reasons why so many in the knighthood turned against the landgrave.

Because of the fighting in the past nine years, the landgrave's coffers were burdened, which is why Heinrich levied a new tax on all imported goods in 1375. This aroused the resentment of the citizens and the nobility in his last year of reign and led to the temporary occupation of the castle in Kassel by the local citizens. After the unrest was put down by Landgrave Hermann II, this was punished with a number of death sentences.

Heinrich II was the first landgrave to confer hereditary court offices . He conferred the office of Hereditary Marshal to the Lords of Eisenbach in 1343 , the office of treasurer went to the Lords of Berlepsch in 1369 , and in the same year the Schenck zu Schweinsberg family received the office of inheritance.

Heinrich II died at the age of almost eighty on June 6, 1376 and was buried in the Elisabeth Church in Marburg. His nephew Hermann II followed him as Landgrave of Hesse.


Heinrich II married Elisabeth von Thuringia, daughter of Friedrich von Meißen , in 1321 . When Heinrich raised accusations of adultery against her, she withdrew to Eisenach in 1339 , where she lived under the protection of her brother. She died in Eisenach in 1367 and was buried there. She had five children with Heinrich II:

  • Otto II, "the Schütz" (* before 1322; † December 1366), married Elisabeth in 1338, daughter of Dietrich VII. Von Kleve . The marriage remained childless. From 1339 he was co-regent of his father and imperial governor in Mühlhausen . Among other things, Otto took part in two victorious feuds of his father (1356 and 1361) against the Fulda abbot Heinrich VII von Kranlucken . Otto II took up his residence in Spangenberg , where he died in 1366 and was buried in the Carmelite Church. His early death gave rise to the assumption that he died of a poison attack, which is said to have been caused by the abbot of Fulda. (The same was said when the young Magdeburg canon Otto von Hessen died in 1357.)
  • Judith, died as a child
  • Adelheid (* 1324; † 1371), wife of Casimir III since 1341 . from Poland
  • Elisabeth († March 7, 1390), married to Duke Ernst von Braunschweig († 1367) on October 4, 1341 , mother of Otto von Braunschweig . She died in Göttingen in 1390 and was buried in Hanover.
  • Margaretha († 1353), was a nun in the Haydau Monastery from 1339 .


Web links


  1. several scholars: General German People's Conversations Lexicon and Foreign Dictionary . An indispensable manual for anyone third volume. Verlag von Tramburg's Erben, Hamburg 1848, ISBN 3-486-56192-8 , p. 282 f . ( online at: books.google.de ).
  2. So far the Landgraviate was based only on the imperial fiefs of the city of Eschwege and the nearby Boyneburg .
  3. See also Althessische Ritterschaft
predecessor Office successor
Otto I. Landgrave of Hesse
Hermann II.