[St. Pachomius Library]

Henry II, Emperor of the West

X/XI Centuries
The last Saxon king of Germany, Emperor Henry (c. 972-1024), who was educated by St. Wolfgang of Ratisbon, hoped to be a monk. Legend says that Henry swore obedience to the abbot of St.-Vanne in Verdun who then gave him the charge to rule the empire. Henry succeeded his cousin Otto III as king of Germany in 1002 and abandoned Otto's policies of world domination. Henry hoped instead to restore the kingdom of the Franks and, in so doing, to consolidate the German empire. Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry Holy Roman Emperor in 1014. A friend of Odo of Cluny, Henry supported monastic reform and established the see of Bamberg, as well as restoring the bishopricks of Hildesheim, Magdeberg, and Meersburg. Henry's philosophy and policy of intimate cooperation between church and state have led some to consider him the epitome of the Christian ruler.

Karen Rae Keck


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