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Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor

Henry IV, the third Holy Roman Emperor of the Salian dynasty, was born in Goslar in 1050. In 1056 he became King of Germany, succeeding his father, the emperor Henry III on the latter's death; during his minority, his mother, Empress Agnes, ruled on his behalf. He was crowned emperor in 1084. Deposed in 1105, he died the following year in Liège.

Henry's reign was marked by efforts to consolidate Imperial power. In reality, however, it was a careful balancing act between maintaining the loyalty of the nobility and the support of the pope. Henry jeopardized both when, in 1075, his insistence on the right of a secular ruler to invest, i.e., to place in office, members of the clergy, especially bishops, began the conflict known as the Investiture Controversy. Pope Gregory VII excommunicated Henry on February 14, 1076. Henry begged the pope to rescind the sentence, which he did - but only after Henry walked barefoot from his court to Rome.

Henry's first marriage, to Bertha, countess of Maurine, produced two sons, of whom Conrad died after claiming the imperial crown, and Henry forced his father's abdication in 1105, replacing him as Henry V. A daughter, Agnes of Franconia, married the later Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Henry's second marriage (1089-93) was to Eupraxia of Kiev, the daughter of Vsevolod I, Prince of Kiev.

Preceded by:
Empress Agnes, regent following Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor
List of German Kings and Emperors Succeeded by:
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor

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