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Henry the Lion

Henry the Lion (1129/1131 - 1195), Duke of Saxony (1142), 1156 Duke of Bavaria. Founder of Munich 1157/58 (German München). The Lion is his heraldic animal. He also founded Lübeck in 1159 and developed the cities of Stade[?], Lüneburg and Brunswick, where he had a bronze Lion erected on his castle yard in 1166 - the first bronze statue north of the Alps.

Brunswick was the capital of his principality. The lion demonstrates his power which was nearly that of a king. Married as his second wife Matilda (b. 1156, d. 1189) the daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine in 1168.

In 1175, Henry the Lion refused to aid his cousin Frederick I Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor, against Lombardy, because he did not accept the condition of investing him with the rich city of Goslar. It was this insubordination the Emperor could not tolerate. Henry had to face a lawsuit and was condemned in 1180. He lost most of his principality. He had to leave Germany in 1182 for three years and stayed with his father-in-law, Henry II.

The last years of his life Henry the Lion tried to gain back what he had lost, but he mostly failed.

The picture from his tomb in Brunswick cathedral shows an idealized image. It was made between 1230 and 1240. When the Nazi exhumed his corpse, they were disappointed finding a man with black hair.

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