Henry The Lion , duke of Saxony and Bavaria, born in 1129, died in Brunswick in 1195. Bis father, Henry the Haughty, had been outlawed and despoiled of his possessions for refusing to acknowledge the election of the emperor Conrad III. He died soon after, leaving his son, 10 years of age, to whom (as the Saxons had never succumbed to the decision of Conrad respecting their late duke) Saxony was speedily restored. In the diet at Frankfort (1147) Henry formally demanded restitution of all his possessions, Bavaria having been bestowed upon Leopold, margrave of Austria. Conrad refused, and a war ensued, the results of which in the main were favorable to Henry. Frederick Barbarossa meanwhile succeeded Conrad (1152), and one of his first acts was to restore to Henry the Bavarian duchy. Henry's dominions, including part of modern Pomerania, now extended from the Baltic and North sea to the Alps. He was the head of the house of Guelph, and in all respects the most considerable of the German princes. He triumphed over a confederacy of church potentates who conspired against him in his own dominions; and in 1168 he espoused Matilda (or Maud) of England, sister of Richard Coeur de Lion. Under him Lubeck, which had been founded a few years before, was built up into a powerful city.
Hamburg, which had been destroyed by the Wends, was rebuilt; Munich was founded; and improvements were everywhere encouraged in education and industry. But Henry had become unpopular with neighboring princes and bishops, who threatened to arrest his growing importance. He attacked them, devastated Thuringia, reconquered Bremen, and, having restored tranquillity along his frontiers, made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (1172). Feeling now sufficiently powerful to decline service in the imperial expeditions in Italy, ho withdrew his forces at a critical moment; and the immediate consequence was the overthrow of the emperor at Legnano (1176). On Frederick's return from Italy, after the peace of Venice (1177), he summoned the duke to appear before him in a diet at Worms. The summons, thrice repeated, was unheeded, and the contumacious prince was declared deposed and under the ban of the empire. His fiefs were parcelled out among other princes, who marched in league to take possession. Henry beat them off, but the arrival of the emperor with overwhelming forces compelled him to retire to Lubeck, and at length into Hol-stein. He was forced soon after to humble himself at the feet of Frederick (1181), who banished him for three years to England, where he became the father of a son from whom the British Hanoverian sovereigns trace their descent.
He was meanwhile reinstated in his hereditary possessions of Brunswick and Lune-burg, and at the end of the three years re-crossed the channel to take personal possession. In consequence of asserted violation by the imperial authorities of his hereditary dominions, he undertook a war (1189) for their absolute recovery. Frederick died in 1190; when, after making peace and entering into a family alliance with Henry VI., by the marriage of his son with Agnes, cousin of the emperor, Henry at length found repose.