Henry II, Duke of Austria

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Henry II Jasomirgott
Duke of Austria
Stift Heiligenkreuz - Babenbergerfenster 2 Heinrich.jpg
Stained glass window, Heiligenkreuz Abbey (c. 1290)
Born 1112
Died (1177-01-13)13 January 1177
Vienna, Austria
Buried Schottenstift, Vienna
Family House of Babenberg
Spouse Gertrude of Süpplingenburg
Theodora Comnena
Issue
Father Leopold III, Margrave of Austria
Mother Agnes of Germany

Henry II (German: Heinrich; 1112 – 13 January 1177), called Jasomirgott, a member of the House of Babenberg,[1] was Count Palatine of the Rhine from 1140 to 1141, Duke of Bavaria and Margrave of Austria from 1141 to 1156 (as Henry XI), and the first Duke of Austria from 1156 until his death.

Family[edit]

Henry was the second son of Margrave Leopold III of Austria, the first from his second marriage with Agnes of Waiblingen, a sister of the last Salian emperor Henry V. Leopold himself was expected to stand as a candidate in the 1125 election as King of the Romans; nevertheless, he renounced in favour of the Hohenstaufen duke Frederick II of Swabia, his half-brother, who eventually lost against Lothair of Supplinburg. Among Henry's younger brother were Bishop Otto of Freising and Conrad II of Salzburg. His sister Judith became the wife of Marquess William V of Montferrat.

Henry's nickname, Jasomirgott, was first documented during the 13th century in the form of Jochsamergott, the meaning of which is unclear. According to one theory, it is derived from a spoofed Arab word bearing a connection to the Second Crusade where Henry participated in 1147. According to a popular etymology, it is derived from the Middle High German form of oath joch sam mir got helfe (meaning: "Yes, so help me God").

Reign[edit]

When Margrave Leopold III died in 1136, he was succeeded by his third-born son Leopold IV; probably because Henry already administrated the Rhenish possessions of the extinct Salian dynasty. In April 1140, the Hohenstaufen king Conrad III of Germany enfeoffed him with the County Palatine of the Rhine, which he ruled only for a short time until being appointed Bavarian duke and Margrave of Austria when his younger brother Leopold IV unexpectedly died in October 1141. Leopold had received the Duchy of Bavaria in 1139, after King Conrad had deposed Duke Henry the Proud in the course of the dispute between the Welf and Hohenstaufen dynasties.

Henry took his residence in the Bavarian capital Regensburg (Ratisbon). In May 1142 he married Gertrude of Supplinburg, the daughter of Emperor Lothair and widow of Henry the Proud. She died after less thanone year, giving birth to her first child with Henry.

Henry II on the Second Crusade, Babenberg Pedigree, Klosterneuburg Monastery (1489–1492)

The duke remained a loyal follower of the Hohenstaufens and in May 1147 accompanied King Conrad on the Second Crusade. When they suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Dorylaeum against the Seljuk Turks in October, Henry narrowly escaped together with Conrad's nephew, young Frederick Barbarossa. On their way home, Henry stayed at the court of the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos, where he married his niece Theodora in late 1148.

Elected King of the Romans in 1152, Frederick Barbarossa tried to reach a compromise with the Welfs and endowed the son of the late Henry the Proud, Henry the Lion, with the Bavarian duchy in 1156. A replacement had to be found for the Babenberg family, namely by the Privilegium Minus, by which Frederick elevated Henry's Margraviate of Austria to a duchy with complete independence from Bavaria.

Unlike his father, who resided in Klosterneuburg most of the time, Henry moved his residence to Vienna in 1145. Only by this act could the modern Austrian capital surpass cities such as Krems, Melk or Klosterneuburg. Since then, it has remained the capital of the country. Also in 1147, the St. Stephen's Church was completed, which became a visible landmark of the city, showing its prominence. In 1155, Henry founded the Schottenstift monastery in Vienna, in the courtyard of which a statue of him stands to this day.

Statue in Schottenstift, Vienna

In November 1176, while his Austrian land were campaigned by the forces of Duke Soběslav II of Bohemia, Henry II with his horse fell from a rotten bridge near Melk and suffered a femoral neck fracture. Henry II succumbed to his injuries on 13 January 1177 in Vienna. According to his last will, he was buried in the Schottenstift monastery.

Marriage and children[edit]

Until 1143, Henry II was married to Gertrude of Süpplingenburg, the daughter of Emperor Lothair II. In 1148 he married Theodora Komnene, niece of the Byzantine emperor Manuel I. Both marriages are an expression of the importance of the Babenberg dynasty in Central Europe in that period.

Henry had three children by Theodora Komnene:

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Lingelbach 1913, pp. 91–92.
Bibliography
  • Beller, Steven (2007). A Concise History of Austria. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521478861. 
  • Brooke, Z. N. (1938). A History of Europe: From 911 to 1198. London: Methuen & Company Ltd. ISBN 978-1443740708. 
  • Dopsch, Heinz (1999). Österreichische Geschichte 1122-1278. Vienna: Ueberreuter. ISBN 3-8000-3973-7. 
  • Lechner, Karl (1976). Die Babenberger: Markgrafen und Herzoge von Österreich 976–1246. Vienna: Böhlau. ISBN 978-3205085089. 
  • Leeper, Alexander W. (1941). History of Medieval Austria. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0404153472. 
  • Lingelbach, William E. (1913). The History of Nations: Austria-Hungary. New York: P. F. Collier & Son Company. ASIN B000L3E368. 
  • Pohl, Walter (1995). Die Welt der Babenberger. Graz: Verlag Styria. ISBN 978-3222123344. 
  • Rickett, Richard (1985). A Brief Survey of Austrian History. Vienna: Prachner. ISBN 978-3853670019. 
  • Wegener, Wilhelm (1965). Genealogischen Tafeln zur mitteleuropäischen Geschichte. Vienna: Verlag Degener. 

External links[edit]

Henry II, Duke of Austria
Born: 1112 Died: 13 January 1177
Preceded by
Leopold the Generous
Duke of Bavaria
1141–1156
Succeeded by
Henry the Lion
Margrave (Duke) of Austria
1141–1177
Succeeded by
Leopold the Virtuous
Preceded by
William of Ballenstedt
Count Palatine of the Rhine
1140–1141
Succeeded by
Herman III of Stahleck