Henry, Margrave of Frisia

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Henry
Margrave of Frisia
Spouse(s) Gertrude of Brunswick
Noble family House of Nordheim
Father Otto of Nordheim
Mother Richenza of Swabia
Born c. 1055
Died 1101 (aged 45–46)
Buried 4 April 1101
Bursfelde

Henry the Fat (c. 1055 – 1101), also known as Henry of Nordheim or Northeim, was from 1083 Count in Rittigau and Eichsfeld and from 1099 the Margrave of Frisia. He was the eldest son of Otto of Nordheim and Richenza of Swabia.

He was, by his patrimony of Rittigau and Eichsfeld, one of the most influential Saxon princes of his age. In 1086 he married the widow Gertrude of Brunswick and united the lands of the Counts of Katlenburg and the Brunonen to the Nordheimer Länderei. From the counts of Bilstein he inherited parts of the Werra Valley, where he became the sole landholder. Further, he was the Vogt of Helmarshausen and founded a Benedictine monastery at Bursfelde in 1093.

During the civil wars of the early 1080s Henry sided with the anti-king Herman of Salm, to whom he was related by marriage. In 1086 he and his brothers changed sides to support the Emperor Henry IV.

Henry's wife, Gertrude, was the only sister of Egbert II, Margrave of Meissen, whose own marriage remained childless. By the right of inheritance Henry stood to receive Egbert's counties in Frisia on the margrave's death in 1090, though Meissen was granted by the emperor to another Henry. These Frisian counties, however, had been annexed from Egbert during the latter's rebellion in 1089 and were being administered by Conrad, Bishop of Utrecht. When Conrad was assassinated in 1099 the Emperor finally bestowed the counties on Henry. He immediately tried to regulate Frisian shipping and ignored the privileges granted to the town of Staveren. The Church, feeling threatened by Henry, allied with the merchant class and the townsmen. Though they received him on seeming friendly terms, he perceived their threat and tried to flee by boat. His ship was attacked at sea and sunk, though his wife escaped the assault. The day of his death is not known precisely, but he was buried in Bursfelde on 10 April 1101.

Henry's only son, Otto III of Nordheim inherited his patrimony, while his daughter Richenza inherited the Katlenburger and Brunonen territories and united them to the House of Welf by her marriage to the future Emperor Lothair II. Henry's youngest daughter, Gertrude (c. 1090 – bef. 1165), was heiress of Bentheim and Rheineck. She married first Siegfried I of Weimar-Orlamünde and then Otto I, Count of Salm. Henry's widow, Gertrude, married the aforementioned Henry, Margrave of Meissen.

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