There are actually two rulers of the Holy Roman Empire named Heinrich VII. One was actually Emperor while the other was King of the Romans the title generally held by the heir to the throne of the Empire.
The Heinrich VII that was the actual Emperor, for only one year (1312 — 1313), and lived from the late 13th century until the early 14th century, while the other Heinrich VII lived earlier in the 13th century (1211 – 1242).
The Heinrich VII who held the imperial title (c. 1273–August 24, 1313), was also known as Heinrich of Luxembourg, who was Count of Luxembourg, King of the Romans (or Rex Romanorum) from 1308 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1312. He was the first Emperor of the House of Luxembourg.
He was the first emperor since the death of Friedrich II in 1250, ending the Great Interregnum of the Holy Roman Empire; however, his premature death and brief reign threatened to undo his life’s work.
His son, Johann of Bohemia, failed to be elected as his successor, and there was briefly another anti-king, Friedrich the Fair, contesting the rule of Emperor Ludwig IV.
The other Heinrich (VII) (1211 – February 12?, 1242), was a member of the long ruling Hohenstaufen dynasty and was the son of Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II and his first wife Infanta Constance of Aragon the second child and eldest daughter of the nine children of Alfonso II of Aragon and Infanta Sancha of Castile.
While Friedrich sought to be elected King of the Romans against his Welf rival Otto IV, he had his new-born son Heinrich crowned King of Sicily (as Heinrich II) by Pope Innocent III in March 1212, since an agreement between Friedrich and the Pope stated that the kingdoms of Germany and Sicily should not be united under one ruler. For this, the regency of the Sicilian kingdom went to his mother Constance and not to his father.
Heinrich (VII)’s father, Friedrich II, was eventually elected King of the Romans in 1215, by the German princes, and supported by Pope Innocent III. Friedrich II was crowned King of the Romans in Aachen on July 23, 1215 by one of the three German archbishops.
It wasn’t until another five years had passed, and only after further negotiations between Friedrich II and Pope Innocent III, and Pope Honorius III – who succeeded to the papacy after Innocent’s death in 1216 – that Friedrich was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome by Honorius III, on November 22, 1220.
At the same time, Friedrich’s oldest son Heinrich (VII) took the title of King of the Romans.
In 1228, Heinrich (VII) took over the rule in the German kingdom and tried to limit the powers of the princes, thereby disturbing the Imperial policies of his father who made him pay homage under the threat of excommunication.
In 1235, Heinrich (VII) allied with the princely opposition and openly rebelled against his father the emperor, however, was defeated by his father’s forces and dethroned. Friedrich II had him confined in several castles in Apulia, where he died on February 12, 1242 (according to other sources February 10) after a fall from his horse.
Some chroniclers report that his fall from his horse had been an attempted suicide. His father had him buried with royal honours in the cathedral of Cosenza, in an antique Roman sarcophagus.
Although he had been the seventh Heinrich to rule over German lands, technically the Holy Roman Empire, he is usually numbered with his ordinal number in parentheses (VII) in order to avoid confusion with the Luxembourg emperor Heinrich VII who, as previously mentioned, actually held the imperial title.
However, among the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, Heinrich is numbered only in parentheses, because he did not exercise the sole kingship.
His ordinal number in parentheses was not contemporary with Heinrich’s reign as King of the Romans it was a later invention by historians in order not to confuse him with the later Emperor Heinrich VII who actually ruled the Empire from 1308 onwards (first as King of the Romans then as Holy Roman Emperor in 1312).
Heinrich (VII) was for a long time in his father’s shadow and disparaged as “Parentheses Henry”, several historians in recent years have adopted a more positive view of his Hohenstaufen policies.
After the death of Heinrich (VII) his half-brother Conrad IV was elected King of the Romans.
Conrad IV (April 25, 1228 – May 21, 1254) was the only son of Emperor Friedrich II from his second marriage with Queen Isabella II of Jerusalem. He inherited the title of King of Jerusalem (as Conrad II) upon the death of his mother in childbirth.
Appointed Duke of Swabia in 1235, his father had him elected King of the Romans and crowned King of Italy (as Conrad IV) in 1237. After the emperor was deposed and died in 1250, he ruled as King of Sicily (Conrad I) until his death.
With the death of Friedrich II in 1250 the Holy Roman Empire entered the period known as the Great Interregnum which is a whole other topic I will cover tomorrow in this blog.