Henry the Lion

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Henry the Lion,

1129–95, duke of Saxony (1142–80) and of Bavaria (1156–80); son of Henry the ProudHenry the Proud,
c.1108–1139, duke of Bavaria (1126–38) and of Saxony (1137–38). A member of the Guelph family, he inherited the duchy of Bavaria and enormous private wealth.
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. His father died (1139) while engaged in a war to regain his duchies, and it was not until 1142 that Henry the Lion became duke of Saxony. Bavaria was restored to him after the accession of his cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick IFrederick I
or Frederick Barbarossa
[Ital.,=red beard], c.1125–90, Holy Roman emperor (1155–90) and German king (1152–90), son of Frederick of Hohenstaufen, duke of Swabia, nephew and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III.
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, who wished to end the strife in Germany between the rival families of Welfs, or GuelphsGuelphs
, European dynasty tracing its descent from the Swabian count Guelph or Welf (9th cent.), whose daughter Judith married the Frankish emperor Louis I. Guelph III (d. 1055) was made (1047) duke of Carinthia and margrave of Verona.
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, and HohenstaufenHohenstaufen
, German princely family, whose name is derived from the castle of Staufen built in 1077 by a Swabian count, Frederick. In 1079, Frederick married Agnes, daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, and was created duke of Swabia.
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. Henry took part in Frederick's earlier Italian expeditions but devoted his attention chiefly to Saxony and to expansion beyond the Elbe, where he extended his authority with Frederick's support. With Albert the BearAlbert the Bear,
c.1100–1170, first margrave of Brandenburg (1150–70). He was a loyal vassal of Holy Roman Emperor Lothair II, who, as duke of Saxony, helped him take (1123) Lower Lusatia and the eastern march of Saxony. Albert lost these lands in 1131.
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 and other Saxon nobles he took part in the crusade against the WendsWends
or Sorbs,
Slavic people (numbering about 60,000) of Brandenburg and Saxony, E Germany, in Lusatia. They speak Lusatian (also known as Sorbic or Wendish), a West Slavic language with two main dialects: Upper Lusatian, nearer to Czech, and Lower Lusatian, nearer to
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 in 1147. In subsequent years he gradually extended his power over the pagan lands bounded by the Elbe, the Oder, and the Baltic. He encouraged settlement in the conquered regions, which became Christianized; he also fostered commercial activity, especially that of Lübeck. In 1168 he married Matilda, daughter of Henry II of England. Henry pursued an independent foreign policy, intervening in the Danish civil wars (1147–57) in support of Waldemar I, whose protector he became. His greed and ambition brought him into conflict with other German nobles, particularly Albert the Bear. Throughout this period Henry retained the support of the emperor. In 1176, however, a breach occurred when Frederick, engaged in war in Italy, requested Henry's aid. Henry demanded the imperial city of Goslar in exchange for military support, but Frederick refused, was defeated, and was forced to make peace with the pope. As a result of Frederick's reconciliation with the pope, Henry was ordered to restore Saxon church lands that he had seized. He failed to comply immediately, and the bishop of Halberstadt and the Saxon nobles allied against him. The emperor, called in to judge the case, confiscated (1180) Henry's fiefs. The partitioning of the duchies of Bavaria and Saxony marked the change to smaller territorial units in Germany, which from then on was a patchwork of principalities. Henry's armies were defeated. He retained only Brunswick and Lüneburg and was banished (1182) for three years, which he spent in England. While Frederick was on the Third Crusade, Henry sought to occupy Saxony (1189). Temporary peace was made, but Henry continued to intrigue against the Hohenstaufen. Shortly before his death he reached an accord with Frederick's successor Henry VIHenry VI,
1165–97, Holy Roman emperor (1191–97) and German king (1190–97), son and successor of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I (Frederick Barbarossa). He was crowned German king at Aachen in 1169 and king of Italy at Milan in 1186 after his marriage to
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. Conflict between Guelphs and Hohenstaufen continued after his death. Henry's younger son became emperor in 1209 as Otto IV.