Henry VIII of Legnica

Henry VIII of Legnica (Polish: Henryk VIII legnicki) (ca. 1355 – 12 December 1398) was a Duke of Legnica since 1364 (nominally and together with his brothers) and Bishop of Włocławek since 1389 until his death.

He was the fourth of Wenceslaus I, Duke of Legnica, by his wife Anna, daughter of Casimir I, Duke of Cieszyn.


Duke Wenceslaus I destined his three younger sons (Henry VIII and his two older brothers Wenceslaus II and Bolesław IV) to the Church, in order to prevent further divisions over the already small Duchy of Legnica, and led the full authority over Legnica to his oldest son Rupert I.

After his father's death in 1364, Henry VIII and his siblings were placed under the tutelage of their uncle Louis I the Fair who, followed the wishes of his late brother, installed him as a canon of the Kolegiata of the Holy Cross in Wroclaw in 1378. A year later, Henry VIII was appointed Chapter of the cathedral in the same city.

On 21 May 1379 Henry VIII, together with his brothers, went to Prague and paid his homage to the King Wenceslaus IV.

By the early autumn of that year, Henry VIII was elected Administrator of the Diocese of Wroclaw; on 19 April 1382, his older brother Wenceslaus II was finally confirmed as Bishop of the Diocese. During the period of his administration, Henry VIII's disputes with the local nobility finally erupted when his older Rupert I send him a dozen kegs of beer from Swidnica as a gift. Henry VIII refused to pay the tax recognized by the beer imports, breaking the economic situation of Wroclaw and left the beer industry in an entire stock. In addition, Henry VIII, referring to the privileges of the chapter, called for the returning of the Church's goods; the logic resistance of the townspeople and the nobility infuriated he Administrator, who announced the imminent ban on the city if they didn't accept his demands. The dispute, despite the mediation to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Janusz Suchywilk and King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia (who even ordered the plunder over the property of Wroclaw's Canon, treating them as responsible for the prolonged conflict), ended only in May 1382, as a result of the sentence of the papal Legate, Bishop Thomas Lucerii.

In 1388, Henry VIII, in exchange for his resignation of the administration of the diocese of Wroclaw, received from Pope Urban VI the Bishopric of the remote Cambrai in Flanders.

Henry VIII refused this nomination because of the opportunity to take over the Bishopric of Włocławek after the current holder his relative Jan Kropidło -also Duke of Opole- resigned from his post with the chance of assumed the Archbishopric of Gniezno. With the nomination of Henry VIII for a richest Bishopric in Poland, he had the same political influence of the powerful Bishop of Krakow, Piotr Wysz.

The officially ordinance of Henry VIII as Bishop of Włocławek -who was included as a Diocese belonging to Poland (in Kuyavia) and also belonging to a religious state (in Gdańsk Pomerania)-, took place on 14 May 1389.

Henry VIII's rule over Włocławek lasted nine years, during which time he had little interest in the fate of his subjects, limiting only to receive the large revenue from the Bishopric. He lived mostly in Silesia in the lands of his brother Rupert I and Wenceslaus II: Legnica, Wroclaw and Otmuchów.

Henry VIII died in Legnica on 12 December 1398, probably poisoned during the banquet given by the Archbishop of Gniezno, Dobrogost z Nowego Dworu. He was buried in the cathedral of Wroclaw; his tombstone, situated in the south nave, remained there today.


Preceded by
Wenceslaus I
Duke of Legnica
with Rupert I,
Wenceslaus II,
and Bolesław IV (until 1394)

Succeeded by
Rupert I and
Wenceslaus II
Preceded by
Jan Kropidło
Bishop of Włocławek
Succeeded by
Mikołaj Kurowski
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