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Henry The Fowler

Henry The Fowler


Henry The FowlerHenry I. of Germany is a prominent figure in medieval history. By uniting the five great dukedoms, he did much to make Germany a nation. He regained Lotharingia, or Lorraine, which remained attached to Germany for eight centuries. He strengthened the country, built walled towns and fortresses, and disciplined the armies. Henry was born in the year 876, being the son of Otto or Otho, the Illustrious, Duke of Saxony, who had refused the regal dignity. His mother was the daughter of the Emperor Arnulph. In 912, his father died, after having appointed him Duke of Saxony, and also Lord of Thuringia and part of Franconia. Henry showed great activity in public affairs. The Emperor Conrad I., who had opposed many of Henry's efforts, yet acknowledged his ability, and, when on his death-bed, sent the insignia of the imperial dignity to him, as the most suitable successor. When the messenger arrived, he found Henry in the Hartz Mountains, engaged in field sport, with his falcon on his wrist. From this circumstance he obtained the surname of "the Fowler." An assembly of the principal nobles confirmed him as King of the Romans in 9I9. The Archbishop of Mainz Mayence offered to anoint him but Henry declared it was sufficient that he was called to rule over Germany by God's grace and the choice of the people, and entreated the Archbishop to reserve the oil for some more pious monarch. His first care was to restore concord among the princes of Germany, in which he was successful. He sought to retain them in their allegiance by permitting them to form alliances with members of his own family. He placed in every dukedom, as governor of those lands which belonged immediately to the crown, a Count Palatine, who was invested with the authority of imperial judge within his district.


Having thus restored to the crown the rights of which it had been deprived through the weakness of former sovereigns, Henry proceeded to take measures for resisting the fierce Hungarians, who had long harassed the German territories. But the military affairs of the empire had been so miserably neglected during the disputes of the nobles, that Henry, after gaining a victory in 922, was pleased to release the captured chief to the Hungarians, on their pledging themselves not to disturb Germany for nine years, provided a tribute of gold was annually sent them. He now marched against the Vandals, drove them out of Saxony, and exterminated the whole Nation on the shores of the Baltic. He was victorious over the Danes, Sclavonians, and took prisoner Wenceslaus, the King of Bohemia, whom, after a long captivity, he restored to is throne.


In the treaty which he entered into at Bonn, in 922, with Charles the Simple, King of France, Henry set aside the pretensions of Charles I. to the empire. When that prince was deposed by his nobles, Henry espoused his cause. The chief purpose of his interference, however, was to seize Lorraine from Raoul, Duke of Burgundy. In the end, he was content to receive homage from the Duke of that province. The Emperor was diligently employed in extending his dominions, in regulating their defences, and in propagating the Christian religion among the neighboring heathen tribes. That Henry's renown had spread far beyond the confines of his own land is proved by the alacrity with which King Athelstan, of England, entered into his proposal of an alliance by marriage. Henry sought a bride for his sou Otto, and asked for the sister of the English king. Athelstan sent, not one, but two of his sisters, and Edith, the elder of the princesses who had come for inspection, was chosen by Otto.


The nine years of truce agreed on with the Hungarians were spent by Henry in the most active preparations to meet the enemy all equal terms. He caused numerous fortresses to be built, which he strongly garrisoned. The bands of outlaws which had infested the country were formed into regular companies to defend it. Henry now found himself able to bid defiance to the Hungarians, and, when the truce expired, he is said to have sent them a mangy dog, as the only tribute he thenceforward intended to pay. In the next year, 933, they entered Germany with two armies, one of which was defeated by the Saxons, near Sondershausen the other was met by the king in person at Keuschberg, on the Saale. The Hungarians, who had teamed of the defeat of their brethren, made fire-signals on the hills to draw the rest of their hordes together. Henry, having addressed his men in a spirited and encouraging harangue, unfurled before them the banner of the Archangel Michael, and charged the Hungarians with the cry of Lord have mercy!" which was echoed back by the fearful" Hui! Hui! " of the barbarians. After a sanguinary conflict, the whole army of the enemy was either slain or put to flight.


Peace and good Older having been restored through all parts of his dominions, he resolved to comply with the Pope's invitation to receive from him the imperial crown in Roule. He set out for Italy at the head of an army i but, being attacked with a fit of apoplexy on the road, he returned to Memleben, where he died, in 936, at the age of sixty, having reigned eighteen years.


Henry the Fowler was distinguished for excellent qualities of body and mind. He was energetic and wise, his naturally clear understanding overcoming his defects of learning. He was a terror to his enemies, but mild and just to his friends and subjects. He has been reproached for his love of show and the impetuosity of his temper. His encouragement of municipal life gave a new aspect to Germany, and his valiant repulse of invaders established its position in medireval history.


Carlyle calls Henry the Fowler the Father of whatever good has since been in Germany," and thus concludes his characteristic brief sketch :-"Hail, brave Henry: across the nine dim centuries, we salute thee, still visible as a valiant Son of Cosmos and Son of Heaven, beneficently sent us as a man who did in grim earnest' serve God' in his day, and whose works accordingly bear fruit to our day, and to all days I"




Which is the German's Fatherland? Is't Prussia's or Swabia's land? Is't where the Rhine's rich vintage streams? Or where the Northern sea-gull screams? Ah, no, no, no I His Fatherland's not bounded so ! Which is the German's Fatherland? Bavaria's or Styna's land? Is't where the Marsian ox unbends? Or where the Marksman iron rends?- Ah, no, no, no! His Fatherland's not bounded so! Which is the German's Fatherland? Pomerania's or Westphalia's land? Is't where sweep the Dunian waves? Or where the thundering Danube raves?Ah, no, no, no! His Fatherland's not bounded so! Which is the German's Fatherland? 0, tell me now the famous land! Is't Tyrol, or the land of Tell? Such lands and people please me well.Ah, no, no, no! His Fatherland's not bounded so! Which is the German's Fatherland? Come tell me now the famous land. Doubtless, it is the Austrian State,In honors and in triumphs great.Ah, no,no,nol His Fatherland' not bounded so I Which is the German's Fatherland? So tell me now the famous land! Is' t what the princes won by sleight From the Emperor's and Empire's right?All, no, no, no! His Fatherland's not bounded so I Which is the German's Fatherland? So tell me now at last the land !As far's the German accent rings And hymns to God in heaven sings,' rhat is the land,- There, brother, is thy Fatherland I There is the German's Fatherland, Where oaths attest the grasped hand, Vhere truth beams frolD the sparkling eyes, And in the heart love warmly lies;- That is the land,- There, brother, is thy Fatherland I That is the German's Fatherland, Where wrath pursues the foreign band,Where every Frank is held a foe, And Germans all as brothers g low;- That is the land,- All Germany's thy Fatherland ! -E. M. ARNDT.


Henry The Fowler

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