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Heinrich V. (c. August 11, 1081 or 1086 – May 23, 1125) was King of the Romans (from 1099 to 1125) and Holy Roman Emperor (from 1111 to 1125), as the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty. He was made co-ruler by his father, Heinrich IV, in 1098.

Heinrich V was probably born on August 11 in 1081 or 1086. However, only the date of his accolade (Schwertleite) at Easter 1101 can be confirmed. This ceremony usually took place at the age of 15.

There were three children born of Emperor Heinrich IV and his wife Bertha of Savoy (died in 1087).

Bertha of Savoy was a daughter of Count Otto I of Savoy (also called Eudes or Odo; c. 1023 – c. 1057/1060) and his wife Adelaide of Susa (c. 1014/1020 – 1091) from the Arduinici noble family, and as such a member of the Burgundian House of Savoy. She thereby was the sister of Count Peter I of Savoy (d. 1078), Count Amadeus II of Savoy (d. 1080), and Adelaide (d. 1079), consort of the German anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden.

Heinrich and his two older siblings, Conrad and Agnes, survived childhood; two other siblings had died early. Heinrich seems to have spent the first years of his life primarily in Regensburg. His mentor was Conrad Bishop of Utrecht.

At the time of Heinrich’s birth, his father, Emperor Heinrich IV, had already been engaged in many years of drawn out conflicts with the pope, the imperial bishops, and secular princes for the preservation of his rule.

Henry IV had never paid much attention to the advice, or the rights and privileges of the landed nobility. Saxony, as the centre of resistance, was joined by the southern duchies of Bavaria, Swabia and Carinthia.

These southern duchies again sought the support of Pope Gregory VII, the chief advocate of church reform ideas. Gregory’s central demand was that the emperor must refrain from investing abbots and bishops, a practice that had been essential for the Imperial Church System since Emperor Otto I.

Gregory VII excommunicated Heinrich IV in 1077. By repenting at Canossa, Heinrich managed to get absolved. In 1080 and 1094, however, Heinrich IV was excommunicated again. In 1102, the church ban was again declared over him and his party, including his son, Heinrich V. The conflict divided the empire from the church.

Heinrich IV therefore sought to strengthen his influence in the south. His daughter, Agnes, was engaged to Friedrich I of Swabia, who in 1079 obtained the Duchy of Swabia.

Friedrich I (c. 1050 – c. July 21, 1105) was Duke of Swabia from 1079 to his death, the first ruler from the House of Hohenstaufen.

The emperor also sought to secure his royal succession. Heinrich IV chose his eldest son, Conrad, to be his heir and arranged to have Conrad crowned king of the Romans in Aachen in 1087. After Conrad defected to the Church Reform Party in Italy in 1093, his royalty and inheritance were revoked at a court in Mainz and transferred to his younger brother, Heinrich V in May 1098.

The latter had to take an oath never to rule over the father. On January 6, 1099, Heinrich V was crowned king of the Romans in Aachen, where he was required to repeat the oath. His brother, Conrad, died in Florence on July 27, 1101.

The continued existence of the Salian dynasty now depended on Heinrich V, the only living son of the emperor. The co-regency of son and father proceeded without obvious problems for six years. Contrary to previous ruling sons, Heinrich V was not involved in government affairs.

In Emperor Heinrich IV’s conflicts with the imperial princes and the struggle against the reform papacy during the Investiture Controversy, young Heinrich V allied himself with the opponents of his father.

He forced Heinrich IV to abdicate on December 31, 1105 and ruled for five years in compliance with the imperial princes. He tried, unsuccessfully, to withdraw the regalia from the bishops and in order to at least preserve the previous right to invest he captured Pope Paschal II and forced him to perform his imperial coronation in 1111.

Once crowned emperor, Heinrich V departed from joint rule with the princes and resorted to earlier Salian autocratic rule. After he had failed to increase control over the church, the princes in Saxony and on the Middle and Lower Rhine, in 1121 the imperial princes forced Heinrich V to consent with the papacy.

Investiture Controversy was an important issues in the reign of Heinrich V and will be addressed in another blog post.

From 1108 on Heinrich V made official proposals for a marriage with a princess of the English royal family, seeking to increase the authority of the Salian king and secure his throne. His engagement with the eight-year-old princess Matilda took place in Utrecht at Easter of 1110.

The Anglo-Norman King Henry I of England paid the extraordinarily high sum of 10,000 or 15,000 pounds of silver as dowry. In return, his daughter’s marriage to Heinrich V enormously increased his prestige.

On July 25, 1110 Matilda was crowned Roman-German Queen in Mainz by the Archbishop of Cologne. Four years later the wedding celebrations also took place in Mainz on January 7, 1114 amid great splendor and the attention of princes from all over the empire.

The Salians appropriated the occasion to reaffirm unanimity with the imperial nobles after the conflicts in recent years. Duke Lothair of Supplinburg appeared barefoot and in penitent clothing at the wedding. He was forgiven for his participation in the inheritance disputes of Carniola after performing a Deditio (submission).

This occasion is the only known case of a Deditio during Heinrich V’s reign, which historians have compared to the amicable set of rules and conflict management and settlement of the Ottonian dynasty.

On the other hand, Heinrich had Count Ludwig of Thuringia captured and imprisoned for his participation in the Saxon rebellion, which upset many princes. Heinrich V’s impertinent demonstrations of power greatly diminished the overall atmosphere of the festivity. Some princes left the festival without permission, as others used the opportunity for conspiracies.

The marriage to Matilda produced no male heirs. The chronicler Hériman of Tournai mentions a child of Heinrich and Matilda that died soon after birth. A single source mentions a daughter of Heinrich named Bertha, who was probably illegitimate. She married Count Ptolemy II of Tusculum in 1117. The emperor’s bond with the nobility of Rome through marriage was unique. In his conflict with the Pope and the struggle for domination in Italy, the Tusculan marriages of imperial partisans would receive particular honor.

Eventually, affairs in Italy compelled Heinrich V to leave and appoint duke Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen and his brother Conrad, the future king Conrad III as administrators.