Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine

Henry V
Count Palatine of the Rhine

Henry in the Weingarten Stifterbüchlein, c.1510
Reign 1195–1213
Spouse(s) Agnes of Hohenstaufen
Agnes of Landsberg
Noble family House of Guelph
Father Henry the Lion
Mother Matilda of England
Born c.1173
Died 28 April 1227(1227-04-28)
Braunschweig, Saxony
Buried Brunswick Cathedral

Henry V, the Elder of Brunswick (German: Heinrich der Ältere von Braunschweig; c.1173 – 28 April 1227), a member of the House of Welf, was Count Palatine of the Rhine from 1195 until 1213.


Henry was the eldest son of Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria and Matilda, the eldest daughter of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Henry, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Christian Tunica, 1836

After his father's deposition by the Hohenstaufen emperor Frederick Barbarossa, he grew up in England. When the family returned to Germany in 1189, young Henry distinguished himself by defending the Welf residence of Braunschweig against the forces of the emperor's son King Henry VI. Peace was established the next year, provided that Henry and his younger brother Lothar (d. 1190) were held in hostage by the king. He had to join the German forces on the 1191 campaign to the Italian Kingdom of Sicily and participated in the siege of Naples. Henry finally deserted, fled to Marseille, and returned to Germany where he falsely proclaimed Henry VI's death and tried to underline his own abilities as a possible successor.

Though he was banned, he became heir to the County Palatine of the Rhine through his 1193 marriage to Agnes, a cousin of Emperor Henry VI and daughter of the Hohenstaufen count palatine Conrad. He and the emperor reconciled shortly afterwards, and upon Conrad's death in 1195, Henry was enfeoffed with his County Palatine. A close ally of the emperor, he accompanied him on the conquest of Sicily in 1194/95 and on the Crusade of 1197.[1]

After the sudden death of the emperor in 1197, Henry's younger brother Otto IV became one of two rival kings of the Holy Roman Empire. At first he supported him, but switched sides to Philip of Swabia in 1203. Having divided the Welf allodial lands with his brothers Otto and William of Winchester, Henry then ruled over the northern Saxon territories around Stade and Altencelle and also was confirmed as count palatine by King Philip. When the German throne quarrel ended with Philip's assassination in 1208, Henry again sided with Otto IV. In Imperial service, he tried to ward off the territorial claims by the Rhenish Prince-archbishops of Cologne, Trier and Mainz, though to no avail.

After the death of his cousin Arthur I, Duke of Brittany in April 1203, Henry effectively became the heir of his maternal uncle John Lackland to the English throne, this ended though when John's son (the future king Henry III) was born in October 1207.

After he inherited further significant properties in Saxony from his brother William in 1213, Henry ceded the Palatinate to his son Henry the Younger and moved north. After his son's early death the next year, he left his Welf properties to his nephew, William's son Otto the Child, who became the first Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1235. Henry died in 1227 and is entombed in Brunswick Cathedral.

Marriage and children

In 1193, Henry married Agnes of Hohenstaufen (1177–1204),[2] daughter of Count Palatine Conrad. They had the following children:

Around 1209, he married Agnes of Landsberg (d. 1248), daughter of the Wettin margrave Conrad II of Lusatia.



  1. Helen Nicholson, Love, War, and the Grail, (Brill, 2001), 129.
  2. Herbert Schutz, The Medieval Empire in Central Europe: Dynastic Continuity in the Post-Carolingian Frankish Realm, 900-1300, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), 239.

Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine
Born: ? 1173 Died: 28 April 1227
German nobility
Preceded by
Count Palatine of the Rhine
Succeeded by
Henry VI
English royalty
Preceded by
Arthur I, Duke of Brittany
Heir to the English Throne
as heir presumptive

6 April 1199 – 1 October 1207
Succeeded by
Henry of Winchester
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