Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor

Henry V was King of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor and the first husband of Empress Matilda. Being born as the son of Henry IV and Bertha of Savoy, Henry was the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty.

Becoming King of Germany

Henry IV had already engaged in conflicts with the Church even before his son was born. These conflicts resulted in the Pope excommunicating Henry IV in 1094. Henry V was crowned as the King of Germany in 1099 to rule by the side of his father, who wouldn’t let him be involved in government affairs. Henry V was not pleased and with the support of Pope Paschal II, captured and imprisoned his father to become the sole leader.

Crowned the Holy Roman Emperor

Henry V became the first ruler to successfully gain full political control over the entirety of the empire including the western and eastern states. He restored peace, earning a close alliance with the Pope. In exchange, Pope Paschal crowned Henry on 13 April 1111. Henry kissed the feet of the pope, acknowledging the power of the Church and he returned to Germany. 


Leading up to his Holy Coronation, Henry arranged some significant changes in his politics which made his long-time confidant Chancellor Adalbert of Saarbrücken turn against him. Adalbert had a great influence on imperial politics and when Henry made an official proposal to Princess Maud, Adalbert decided to go public with his disapproval. Since Maud was rumoured to be a Hycatha, the Church was also fearful of the union. Adalbert began to sabotage Henry’s plan, spreading the saying: “Two religions in one bed and the Devil rears its ugly head” around court. 

Despite the sixteen-year age difference and the campaign of opposition, Henry and Maud were married on 7 January 1114. The marriage increased Henry’s fortune but turned many of his supporters against him, eventually leading to his excommunication by Pope Paschal in 1116. Henry forbade Maud to practice her powers because he feared further erosion of his own position as well as for her safety and the future of the English throne. If Maud’s Hycath origins were to be exposed, it would reveal the deceit of her female ancestors in raising illegitimate sons as their heirs. Maud reluctantly accepted this and observed the Catholic faith, at least in public, but evidence suggests she kept practising her powers.  


During his final years, Henry was occupied with several conflicts in Saxony and spent most of his time trying to suppress or resolve these rebellions while Maud ruled over Italy on his behalf. He died of cancer in Utrecht with no heir to follow. After Henry’s death, Adalbert threatened Maud with exposure and  forced her to hand over power to Henry’s sworn enemy, Archbishop of Mainz. She fled to the safety and security of her father, King Henry I of England, soon afterwards.

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