Henry III

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Henry III

, Holy Roman emperor and German king
Henry III, 1017–56, Holy Roman emperor (1046–56) and German king (1039–56), son and successor of Conrad II. He was crowned joint king with his father in 1028, and acceded on Conrad's death in 1039. Under Henry III the medieval Holy Roman Empire probably attained its greatest power and solidity. In 1041, Henry defeated the Bohemians, who had been overrunning the lands of his vassals, the Poles, and compelled Duke Bratislaus I of Bohemia to renew his vassalage. Although several expeditions to Hungary against the raiding Magyars failed to establish his authority in that country, Henry was able in 1043 to fix the frontier of Austria and Hungary at the Leitha and Morava rivers, where it remained until the end of World War I. In the West, Henry attempted with some initial success to control particularist tendencies among the duchies. The dukes of Saxony and Lorraine (Lotharingia) offered the most resistance. In Saxony, Henry managed to avert rebellion, which, however, erupted after his death. On the death of Duke Gozilo of Lorraine (1044), Henry divided the duchy between the duke's two sons. Duke Godfrey, the elder, who received Upper Lorraine, organized numerous revolts against Henry; in 1047–50 the counts of Holland and Flanders (Lower Lorraine) joined in the revolt. Godfrey was successively defeated, imprisoned, restored, and expelled again. He went to Italy (1051), where he married (1054) Marchioness Beatrice of Tuscany, mother of Matilda; Godfrey used his Tuscan position to bolster his strength in Germany, and Henry was unable to subdue him. Despite his political involvement Henry made religious matters his prime concern and supported monastic reform movements, including the Cluniac order. He branded as simony the customary payments made to the king by new bishops and in 1046 undertook to reform the church. Descending into Italy, he had three rival claimants to the papacy set aside at the synods of Sutri and Rome and was accorded the decisive vote in papal elections. The four German popes named by Henry (including Leo IX) renewed the strength of the papacy, which was to prove the nemesis of his successors. On his death his wife Agnes of Poitou assumed the regency for his infant son, Henry IV.

Henry III

, king of England
Henry III, 1207–72, king of England (1216–72), son and successor of King John.


Early Years

Henry became king under a regency; William Marshal, 1st earl of Pembroke, and later Pandulf acted as chief of government, while Peter des Roches was the king's guardian. At the time of Henry's accession, England was torn by civil war and partially occupied by the French prince Louis (later King Louis VIII). In 1217, however, the French were defeated and withdrew. Some of the English barons, Louis's former allies, continued to cause trouble; but Hubert de Burgh, chief justiciar and the greatest power in the government after 1221, gradually restored order.

Between the Barons and the Church

In 1227, Henry was granted full powers of kingship, and in 1230, with typical willfulness and against the advice of the justiciar, he led an unsuccessful expedition to Gascony and Brittany. In 1232 the king dismissed Hubert de Burgh, and for the next two years the government was controlled by Peter des Roches and his nephew (or son), Peter des Rivaux. This administration, which consisted of trained civil servants (many of them Poitevin), was hated by the barons, and a baronial revolt (1233–34) forced Henry to dismiss it.

Henry then assumed direct control of the government, but despite frequent protests from the barons and from his brother, Richard, earl of Cornwall, the king continued to surround himself with French favorites, including relatives of Eleanor of Provence (whom he married in 1236) and his own Poitevin half-brothers. The latter involved him in a disastrous campaign (1242) to expel Louis IX of France from Poitou.

In 1238, Henry had weathered a storm of baronial protest caused by the secret marriage of his sister, Eleanor, to Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester. The king subsequently (1248) sent Montfort to restore English authority in Gascony, but he totally alienated his former friend when he recalled him (1252) to answer charges of unjust administration.

In 1254, Henry accepted the papal offer of the kingdom of Sicily for his younger son, Edmund, earl of Lancaster (see Lancaster, house of), agreeing in return to finance the conquest of the kingdom from the Hohenstaufen dynasty. However, the English barons, disturbed by the king's subservience to the papacy (which had already resulted in large papal exactions and an influx of foreign clergy into England) and angry that they had not been consulted, refused the necessary funds. Threatened by the pope with excommunication, Henry was forced to come to terms with the baronial opposition, now led by Simon de Montfort. The king accepted its plan for conciliar government set forth in the Provisions of Oxford (1258), supplemented by the Provisions of Westminster (1259).

Divisions in the baronial party enabled Henry to repudiate (1261) the provisions, with papal sanction, and in 1263 war broke out (see Barons' War). An attempt to have Louis IX of France arbitrate the dispute led to the Mise of Amiens (1264), a declaration completely in the king's favor, and the war was renewed. Montfort won (1264) the battle of Lewes and summoned (1265) his famous representative Parliament. However, the heir to the throne, Prince Edward (later Edward I), led the royal troops to decisive victory at Evesham (1265), where Simon de Montfort was killed, and by 1267 the barons had capitulated. From 1267 on, Prince Edward actually ruled the realm, and Henry was king in name only.


Henry III has suffered at the hands of many historians, in part, because of the hostility of contemporary chroniclers. His long reign, however, showed progress in several respects. Learning flourished, particularly at Oxford, where Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon inspired others by their intense pursuit of knowledge and their championing of the natural sciences. Many magnificent buildings were erected, including Salisbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Commerce and industry thrived, even though interrupted by warfare.


See F. M. Powicke, King Henry III and the Lord Edward (1947, repr. 1966) and The Thirteenth Century (2d ed. 1962).

Henry III

, king of France
Henry III, 1551–89, king of France (1574–89); son of King Henry II and Catherine de' Medici. He succeeded his brother, Charles IX. As a leader of the royal army in the Wars of Religion (see Religion, Wars of) against the French Protestants, or Huguenots, Henry, then duke of Anjou, defeated (1569) the Huguenots at Jarnac and Moncontour. He refused (1571), on religious grounds, to proceed with negotiations for his marriage to the Protestant queen of England, Elizabeth I. With his mother, the duke helped instigate the massacre of the Huguenots (see Saint Bartholomew's Day, massacre of). Elected king of Poland (1573), he returned to France at his brother's death to assume the French crown. By the Edict of Beaulieu (1576) at the end of the fifth war of religion, he made concessions to the moderates and the Protestants, which led to the formation of the Catholic League (see League) at the behest of Henri, 3d duc de Guise. The king, fearing the League's power, proclaimed himself its head. It was dissolved after he revoked some of his earlier concessions to the Protestants. The League was revived by Henri de Guise, however, when the death (1584) of the king's brother, Francis, duke of Alençon, made the Protestant Henry of Navarre the legal heir to the French throne. De Guise forced Henry III to issue an edict suppressing Protestantism and excluding Henry of Navarre from the throne. In the war that ensued, known as the War of the Three Henrys, Navarre defeated the king's troops at Coutras (1587). Although de Guise helped raise a Parisian revolt against Henry, he did permit his escape to Chartres. However, Henry III procured the assassination of de Guise and his brother Louis in the hope of quelling the rebellion, but his action only further provoked the Catholics. Joining forces with Henry of Navarre, the king attempted to regain Paris. In the siege he was stabbed by Jacques Clément. The last male member of the house of Valois, Henry III left France torn by civil war. Henry of Navarre succeeded him as Henry IV.

Henry III

, Spanish king of Castile and León
Henry III, 1379–1406, Spanish king of Castile and León (1390–1406), son and successor of John I. His marriage (1388) to Catherine, daughter of John of Gaunt, ended a long dynastic conflict. Henry consolidated royal authority against the nobles. He also sent a fleet that destroyed (1400) Tétouan in N Africa, dispatched envoys to Timur, and sponsored the colonization of the Canary Islands. He was succeeded by his son John II.
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Henry III

1. 1017--56, king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor (1046--56). He increased the power of the Empire but his religious policy led to rebellions
2. 1207--72, king of England (1216--72); son of John. His incompetent rule provoked the Barons' War (1264--67), during which he was captured by Simon de Montfort
3. 1551--89, king of France (1574--89). He plotted the massacre of Huguenots on St. Bartholomew's Day (1572) with his mother Catherine de' Medici, thus exacerbating the religious wars in France
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
El heredero al trono habia nacido en el monasterio de San Ildefonso de Toro el viernes 6 de marzo de 1405, siendo sus padres la reina Catalina de Lancaster y Enrique III (1390-1406).
El primero, dedicado al reinado de Enrique III y la minoria de Juan II, describe la politica adoptada ante el Cisma y el conflicto conciliarista, destacando la creciente independencia de Castilla ante al papado avinones y la formulacion de un entendimiento basado en la libre colacion beneficial por parte del papa a cambio de concesiones politicas y economicas que beneficiaban a los regentes durante la minoria de Juan II.