Henry II, Emperor, called the Saint

Henry II’s coronation in a miniature of his time

Henry II’s coronation in a miniature of his time

He was the son of duke Henry II of Bavaria and Gisella, sister of king Conrad of Burgundy. Becoming duke of Bavaria himself after his father’s death (995), he was then elected king of Germany (1002), as a successor of Otto III. He had to withstand many fights against feudal lords to affirm his own power and the power of the monarchy both in Germany and in Italy. Descending to Italy (1004), where Arduin of Ivrea had been crowned as a king, Henry forced him to flight and assumed the crown of Italy at Pavia. He came to the peninsula again in 1013, and in the subsequent year he was crowned as an emperor by Benedict VIII. Uninterruptedly did he fight (1003-1018) against Boleslaw, duke of Poland, who tried to claim his dominion over Bohemia. Henry returned to Italy for a third campaign (1021-22) to assert the Empire rights over the lands of southern Italy, but a plague burst among the troops forced him to go back to Germany. A man of great moral integrity and deep faith, he undertook to promote the ecclesiastic reform together with Benedict VIII (council of Pavia in 1022). He had established the bishopric of Bamberg (1007) so as to make of it the irradiation centre for the evangelisation of central Europe. He was canonised (1146) by Eugene III.

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