- NAME: Henry VI
- OCCUPATION: Emperor, King
- BIRTH DATE: 1165
- DEATH DATE: September 28, 1197
- Did You Know?: Henry VI extracted a ransom of 150,000 German marks in exchange for releasing Richard the Lionheart.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Nijmegen, Netherlands
- PLACE OF DEATH: Messina, Sicily, Italy
- AKA: King of Germany
- AKA: Holy Roman Emperor
Best Known For
Henry VI (1165-1197) was a German king and Holy Roman Emperor. He increased the power of his empire by acquiring the kingdom of Sicily.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Henry VI (1165-1197) was designated the German king in 1169 and later became Holy Roman Emperor. Through his marriage to Constance I, daughter of Sicily's King Roger II, he increased his dynasty's power. Henry VI failed to make the German crown hereditary, like the Sicilian crown, but his son, Frederick II, still became king of Sicily after his death.
Henry, the son of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I and Beatrix of Burgundy, was born in the autumn of 1165, in Nijmegen, in the present-day Netherlands. At age 4, Henry was chosen to be the German king and was crowned in August of 1169.
His 1186 marriage to Constance I, the posthumous daughter of Sicilian King Roger II, potentially enlarged his holdings. Constance was the sole heir of William II of Sicily, and after William's death in November 1189, Henry gained title to the kingdom of Sicily.
At nearly the same time, Henry took control of the empire when Frederick I departed for the Holy Land on the Third Crusade. Between 1189 and 1190, Henry suppressed a revolt by Henry the Lion, a former duke of Bavaria and Saxony. In June 1190, Frederick died crossing the Saleph River in Cilicia (now part of Turkey). Henry made peace with Henry the Lion and was crowned Emperor Henry VI by Pope Celestine III in April 1191, with his wife, Constance, crowned empress.
Being declared emperor and being accepted as such proved to be two different things in Sicily, as the local barons rejected Henry's rule. They elected Tancred of Lecce, an illegitimate son of Constance's brother, Duke Roger of Apulia. Henry VI proceeded to conquer Sicily and bring it under control, but then Henry the Lion revolted again, forcing him to suspend the Sicilian campaign and return to Germany. Constance stayed behind in Sicily and was subsequently kidnapped by Tancred. Pope Celestine III intervened and negotiated Constance's release in exchange for Tancred being recognized as king of Sicily.
Military affairs had not gone well for Henry VI up to this point, when an unexpected circumstance turned things around. English King Richard I (a.k.a. "Richard the Lionheart") had been captured by Leopold V, Duke of Austria, in December 1192, on his return from the Third Crusade. Richard had earlier angered Henry VI for interfering in the affairs of Sicily, and Henry ordered Leopold V to turn Richard over to him. Through Henry faced excommunication for imprisoning a crusader, he proceeded with his plans. Through extended negotiations, Henry extracted a ransom of 150,000 silver marks in return for Richard's release and safe passage back to England.
Having obtained yet another truce with Henry the Lion, Henry VI was free to concentrate on finally subduing Sicily. When Tancred died in 1194, his young son William was made king. Henry was able to enter Sicily without much resistance and take control. He extracted a heavy toll on those who had resisted him, and he sent the young would-be king William to a dungeon in Germany, where he was presumably murdered.
profile name: Henry VI profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Emperors 43 people in this group
Famous Kings 90 people in this group
Famous Royalty 222 people in this group