Henry IX
Martino Rota Archduke Ernest of Austria.png
Henry IX
Grand Duke of Luxembourg
Reign 5th August, 1580 - 9th August, 1602
Predecessor Henry VIII
Successor Charles III
Margrave of Brandenburg (as Henry IV)
Reign 5th August, 1580 - 9th August, 1602
Predecessor Henry VIII
Successor Charles III
Born 2nd March, 1556
Nijmegen, Flanders
Died 9th August, 1602
Antwerp, Flanders
Spouse Eleonore of Bavaria
House Luxembourg-Limburg
Father Henry VIII
Mother Magdelena of Cleves

Henry IX ruled the Low Country territories of the Luxembourg family and Brandenburg at the end of the 16th century. His reign was mostly unremarkable, merely ensuring the reforms implimented by his father took root and held.

The eldest son of Henry VIII and his first wife Magdelena of Cleves, the young Henry of Nijmegen was doted on by Henry VIII's second wife Ippolita of Milan and was 'inconsolable' when she died in 1563. His own wife, Eleonore of Bavaria, supposedly complained he cared more for 'the dead Italian' than herself.

He was raised a Catholic and would remain so throughout his life. There appears to have been no ill-will toward his father when he formally embraced Lutheranism in 1568 and indeed Henry was regarded as tolerant. Not only did he decline to roll back any pro-Lutheran laws but he also declined to involve himself in the religious civil wars raging in Wessex and Anglia at the time.

This did not prevent religious violence however. A wave of iconoclasm erupted in Brabant and Antwerp in 1584. Monasteries were sacked, sculptures and carvings defaced and in the most extreme case the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp was destroyed by fire. Diplomats from Catholic states urged Henry IX to take the opportunity to embrace the Counter-Reformation, firmly crush the iconoclasts and bring the Netherlands back into the Catholic fold but he dismissed their entreaties, much to the anger of the Pope and Emperor Frederick VI of Austria. Instead he eased back on taxes, which kept the merchants and nobles on side, reissued acts of tolerance and made sure only the ring-leaders of the vandalism were tried in public court whilst others received amnesty (but were 'gently' encouraged to emigrate).

Neither did Henry allow his Catholicism to get in the way of secularising the independent church lands which surrounded his own. The Luxembourg family had long filled church titles with their own members, Henry VIII had placed his son Christian into the see of Utrecht not long before he died. Henry would continued this process with his younger half-siblings, ensuring his grip on the whole Netherlands; Sophie became Abbess of Thorn, Sigismund; Bishop of Cambrai, Amelia was married to the already Lutheran Bishop-Administrator of Liuk (Liege). The fact that most of these ecclesiastical lands had majority Lutheran populations was not lost on him. Once in place the siblings would secularise their lands then leave the lands to Henry in their wills.

Hence in 1598 Christian, the Bishop-Administrator of Utrecht, died leaving the secularised lands to Henry and it was added it to the 'circle' of Holland. It would be not long after this event that the term United Netherlands was first used to denote the Low Country holdings of the Luxembourg family. Consolidation of the Dutch parts of the state led to increased capital to be used for polder construction which helped support the expanding population and lessent he impact of famine years. The ex-bishopric of Cambrai would follow in 1600. Liuk, though firmly under Luxembourg control, would maintain a semi-autonomous existence until the 1640s.

1593 Valckenborch Ansicht von Antwerpen mit zugefrorener Schelde anagoria

A view of Antwerp from the frozen Scheldt, 1593

Henry's reign would see the massive expansion of both the merchant and Royal fleets and aided by a series of ruthless Merchant-Generals made impressive strides to catch up and muscle out other established trading nations. Taking advantage of Anglia's disorganisation and Denmark's neglect of its own navy it soon grabbed an impressive share of the Baltic trade. Meanwhile further afield Luxembourg ships tried to avoid the already crowded routes to Leifia and concentrated on Tawantin-European trade instead. In 1599 Henry authorised the creation of a joint-stock company, the Flemish East India Company to fund and operate trade to India and beyond. Whilst the true 'Golden Age' would lie ahead the concentration on trade did much to repair the treasury especially as the old towns of Flanders which had previously powered the Anglian economy were in relative decline; the rising trading city of Antwerp (to all intents and purposes the Luxembourg's capital) and, to a lesser extent the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, were soon booming.

Increased trade in the Baltic partly stemmed from alliance with Svealand. Having only recently won its independence the country desparately needed support from outside Scandinavia. Henry IX readily agreed, believing, unlike his father, that Denmark's control of much of Northern Germany (through the Schmalkaldic Empire) encroaching on Brandenburg, was more disruptive to Luxembourg's own ambitions than say the Hapsburgs.

Luxembourg's first overseas holding was established in 1587 with the annexation of the Carib island of Arubay (or Heeftgoud as it was soon re-chrisened). Not rainy enough to support sugar or other cash crops it was instead used a supply base, the Arawak population was mostly left to farm cattle with which to supply the ever growing fleet.

Childless, on his death in 1602 Luxembourg would be inherited by his younger brother Charles of Echternach.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.