Henry VI (8 July 1126- 11 June 1184) was the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1143 to his death in 1184. He was elected Emperor-elect in July 1142 just a year before his father died. It was not until his father, Emperor Henry V died that he became known offically as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and also became King of Germany and Italy. He then became King of England and Normandy when his mother died. It was decided after his marriage to Marie I, daughter of King Stephen and Matilda of Boulogne that the eldest child no matter the gender would rule England and Normandy. This was to prevent England from entering into elections for the crowning of a new Emperor. 

Henry VI
Holy Roman Emperor
Reign 1143-1184
Predecessor Emperor Henry V
Successor Henry VII 
King of Germany 
Reign 1142-1184
Predecessor Henry V
Successor Henry VI 
King of Italy
Reign 1142-1184
Predecessor Henry V
Successor Henry VI 
House Salian dynasty
Father Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
Mother Matilda I, Queen of England
Born 8 July 1126 

Utrecht, Friesland 


11 June 1184 (age 57)

Burial Speyer Cathedral
Religion Roman Catholicism

Rebellion of Bavaria 

Henry VI was Emperor-elect in 1142 and was given the title of King of Germany and Italy. His younger brother, Otto was only seven years old when the election occurred therefore was too young to be named Emperor-elect. Seven years later in 1149 he raised a rebellion in Bavaria claiming the title of Emperor. Bavaria rebelled and both armies fought for a long hard two years before the Bavarian Army became simply to weak for war. The rebels were sentenced with a heavy fine and the seventeen year old Otto was sent away to life in prison. 


After the Rebellion of Bavaria it was decided that to prevent any further argument about elections, all male children of the king at least 15 years old would be allowed to enter the election. If the king has no male children than his eldest brother (if no brother than sister) can be entered into the election if still living and there children no matter their gender can enter the election but that is only after the King's sons have entered into the election. There can be as many as 10 candidates but after 10 candidates have entered no one else can get in. 

It became law that when the Emperor turned seventy years old a new election must be made to name an Emperor-elect (also known as the successor). This age was later changed in the early 1800s to eighty years old. 

Emperor Henry VI made sure his country understood elections and helped keep the Salian Dynasty going for years to come. He married his mother's enemy, King Stephen's youngest daughter named Marie. She was 10 years younger than Henry thus making the betrothal several years long. The betrothal lasted nine years in which the couple saw very little of each other but they, unlike most marriages at the time, got to know each other a little better long before the wedding took place. Henry dismissed his Head Mistress from service in 1153 to comfort Marie and he started maturing and becoming a better husband to his new wife. 

The couple had four healthy children but only two of them made it to adulthood. His eldest son Lothair died on 14 January 1165 but some historians believe it might have been in 1166. When Henry VI's now eldest living son, Henry turned 18 in 1174 he was nominated to be the successor. Sometimes Emperors nominated a person they really think should be the next Emperor however it means almost nothing but some of the Electors look at the nominated person, but most do not. 

Henry VI died suddenly after bathing in lake water in 1184. His sudden death caused the seven Electors to abruptly travel to Frankfurt (the capital of the Empire). All Elections happened after all Electors traveled to Frankfurt. 

Election of 1184 

The first elector to arrive at Frankfurt was the Elector of Saxony, ten days after the the death of Emperor Henry VI. Henry VI died at the Imperial Palace in Goslar, Saxony and it took a full month before he was buried in the Imperial Royal Crypt in present day Netherlands. On 8 September 1184, the first round of voting happened and since Henry VII was the only son of Henry VI living at the time, a unanimous vote declared him the next emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. 


Emperor Henry VI married Marie I in 1154. They had the following issues: 

1. Lothair (7 September 1155- 14 January 1165 or 1166) 

2. Henry VII (19 July 1156- 19 July 1220) became Emperor three months after his father's death. He married twice. Firstly to Agnes of Lorraine on 29 May 1179 when he was 22 and she was 19. They had one issue but Agnes died in childbirth. Secondly, he married Maude of Hamburg in 1183. They had eight issues. 

3. Miscarriage 1158 

4. Louis (1 October 1162- 11 September 1172) 

5. Miscarriage 1163

6. Miscarriage 1165 

7. Anna (14 October 1168- 18 October 1233) 

Emperor Henry VI also had the following mistresses and illegitimate issues: 

Anne of Hamburg (Head Mistress 1143-1153) 

-William (7 December 1144- 1214/16) 

-Mathilda (October 1145- 20 May 1206)

-Twin son (born June 1148-?) 

-Twin girl (born June 1148-June/July 1148) 

Bertha of Normandy (Head Mistress 1160-1175) 

-Otto 1161-? 

-Son (born 1162-?) existence doubtful 

-Miscarriage August/September 1163 

-Miscarriage 1164 

-Stillbirth 1164 or 1165 

-Possible miscarriage (June 1170)

-Maria November 1172- 20/22 January 1173?

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