Henry the Fowler

Henry's seal from a document of March 30, 925. He is portrayed as a warrior, with a spear and shield.

Henry the Fowler (876 - July 2, 936) was the Duke of Saxony from 912 and the King of Germany from 919 until his death. First of the Ottonian Dynasty of German kings and emperors, he is generally considered to be the founder and first king of the medieval German state, known until then as East Francia. An avid hunter, he obtained the epithet "the Fowler" because he was allegedly fixing his birding nests when messengers arrived to inform him that he was to be king.

Henry was born in 876 as the son of Otto I, Duke of Saxony, and his wife, Hedwiga. He became Duke of Saxony upon his father's death in 912. An able ruler, he continued to strengthen the position of the duchy within the developing Kingdom of Germany, frequently in conflict with his neighbors to the South, the dukes of Franconia. On December 23, 918, Conrad I of Germany, died. Before he died, he had recommended Henry as his successor, but the dukes and magnates had formalized matters by acclaiming him as king, since they wanted to avoid establishing the notion that the kingship was not theirs to award.

Henry extended royal power eastward by fighting against the Slavs and Magyars in the early 920s. The Magyars repeatedly raided Germany, but Henry, having captured a Hungarian prince, managed to arrange a ten-year-truce in 926, though he was forced to pay tributes. By doing so, he and the German dukes gained time to fortify towns and train a new elite cavalry force. During the truce with the Magyars, Henry subdued the Slavs and finally refused to pay the regular tribute in 932. When the Magyars began raiding again, he led a unified army of all German duchies to victory at the Battle of Riade in 933, thus stopping the Hungarian advance. He understood that the best way to keep the East Frankish magnates in line was to increase his personal wealth so that he could hire soldiers to serve him and free him of dependence on his ducal vassals. By moving into eastern Europe, he was able to place numerous Slavic and Magyar territories under his own personal leadership and to amass a large fortune.

On July 2, 936, Henry the Fowler died.

Family Edit

Henry married Hatheburg von Merseburg in 906. The marriage was annulled in 909 because her vows as a nun were deemed by the church to remain valid.

Henry married second to Matilda of Ringelheim in 909.

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