Heinrich VI - History of the Germans

Episode 70

Episode 70 - From Father to Son

When Barbarossa drowns in the river Saleph in 1190 the crown transfers to his eldest surviving son, Henry, known to History as Henry VI.

This is the first time since the accession to personal rule of Emperor Henry III in 1039 that the imperial crown moves from father to grown up son without a glitch. In the previous 150 years, the passing of an emperor had been a dramatic event where all the cards were dealt anew. Just remember, Henry IV came to the throne as a child, Henry V by rebellion against his father, Lother III wasn’t in any meaningful way related to the imperial family, Konrad III came in by a coup against the named heir, as did Barbarossa. The French meanwhile had five transitions from father to son, with only one 6-year regency. This consistency in reproduction is one of the key reasons the Capetion dynasty was so much more successful than their German counterparts, though the greatest of the Capetions has only just appeared, Phillipp II Augustus (1180 to 1223). More, and a lot more about him later.

Talking about famous protagonists, the other contemporary of Henry VI is of course Richard the Lionheart (1189 to 1199). Of him we will hear even more.

But today’s episode is mainly about the lay of the land and the first attempt to achieve the main aim of his reign, control of the kingdom of Sicily.

As always, this episode has a dedicated website with the transcript and maps, pictures and additional comments to read along. It is to be found at Episode 70 - From Father to Son • History of the Germans Podcast

The music for the show is Flute Sonata in E-flat major, H.545 by Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (or some claim it as BWV 1031 Johann Sebastian Bach) performed and arranged by Michel Rondeau under Common Creative Licence 3.0.

As always:

Homepage with maps, photos, transcripts and blog: www.historyofthegermans.com

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About the Podcast

Show artwork for History of the Germans
History of the Germans
From the Coronation of Henry the Fowler in 919 CE to German Reunification in 1990 in weekly chronological 20-30 min episodes

About your host

Profile picture for Dirk Hoffmann-Becking

Dirk Hoffmann-Becking

I am a history geek with no academic qualification in the field but a love for books and stories. I do this for fun and my personal self-aggrandisement.

I have been born, raised and educated in Germany but live in the UK for now over 20 years with my wife and two children. My professional background is in law, management consulting and banking. History has always been a hobby as are sailing, travelling, art, skiing and exercise (go BMF!).

My view of history is best summarised by Gregory of Tours (539-594): “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad”. History has no beginning and no end and more importantly, it has no logic, no pattern and no purpose . But that does not mean there isn't progress and sometimes we humans realise that doing the same thing again and again hoping for a different outcome is indeed madness. The great moments in history are those where we realise that we cannot go on as we were and things need to change. German history - as you will hopefully see - is full of these turning points, some good, some bad!