First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Henry (Heinricus), the eighth of this name, or (as some write who do not count Henry the landgrave of Thuringa) the seventh, a count of Luxemburg, was chosen Roman king by the electors in the Year of the Lord 1308 at Frankfurt, and was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle. He then sent the Duke of Bavaria and Lord Guido of Namur, brother of the Count of Flanders, to the pope at Avignon to arrange for his confirmation; and this they obtained, but upon condition that Henry come to Italy within two years to receive the imperial crown. But Henry did not take advantage of this period of grace; for, sending his emissaries to Italy in advance, he proceeded to that part of Germany which lies near Italy and adjoins the mountains. The royal emissaries first went to the Florentines, who at that time, above all others, were scorners and enemies of the Roman imperial and royal name. This Henry was a wise, righteous, and merciful man, a stern warrior, devout, honorable and courageous, and an intelligent counselor. In the meantime he requested Elizabeth, the sister of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia, then 18 years of age, to come to him at Spire, and he espoused her to his son John (Iohannem), then four years younger (sc. than Elizabeth). At the same time he collected three armies. One of these he led into Italy against the Brescians; and he also reduced the Lombards to obedience. The second army he employed against the counts of Württemberg, who had been disobedient to the Empire, and with the sword he wrested from them 72 well fortified castles and cities out of 80, and restored them to the Empire. The third army, collected in Franconia and Bavaria, he sent into Bohemia under the leadership of his son and Peter, the archbishop of Mainz. Meanwhile Henry crossed the mountains against those of Taurinorum[Augusta Taurinorum, or Taurasia; modern Turin.]; and they came forth to meet him and made their submission. Those of Asti did likewise, and Henry appointed a governor for them and for many other cities. And so also the lords of LaScala at Verona pledged allegiance and submitted. Among the citizens of Milan wore two partisans, one a leader of the Guelphs, the other of the Ghibellines. And when Henry approached the city, both parties became afraid, and in consequence Henry’s will prevailed, and he secured possession. He put the city under the control of Duke Leopold of Austria and the Germans. In the meantime Henry received the imperial iron crown at Milan. Afterwards he proceeded to Genoa, from there to Pisa, and finally to Rome; and there he was crowned. Still later he deposed Robert, the king of Naples, besieged Florence, and secured dominion over Pisa and Siena. Finally Emperor Henry became seriously ill. On advice of the physicians he took the baths; but as these did not help him, on the advice of the physicians he sought another climate, proceeding to the city of Benevento, twelve miles from his camp. After he had secured the city by a siege, he died. Many historians state that certain indications of poisoning appeared in his corpse; and Ptolemy of Lucca states that he died of poison administered to him in the Holy Sacrament by a brother of the Preaching Order; and another adds that this was done at the instigation of the Florentines. The death of Emperor Henry was good fortune to Robert, but to others it was a catastrophe. His body was buried in an elevated tomb behind the high altar in an ancient and noble temple at Pisa. Henry was a magnanimous man, who, if he had lived longer, would have accomplished great things; but he reigned only five years and eight months, and the Empire was without a ruler for a year after his death.

Henry VII (c. 1269-1313), here called Henry VIII, for reasons explained in the text, was the son of Henry III, count of Luxemburg, and passed his early days under French influence. In 1308, he succeeded Albert as king of Germany, for Albert’s unpopularity prevented the electors from choosing his successor from the Austrian house of Hapsburg. The Bohemians, having become dissatisfied with their ruler, Henry V of Carinthia, Henry married his son, John, to Elizabeth, a sister of Wenceslaus; and thus John became king of Bohemia, the crown of which long remained under the Luxemburg dynasty.

In 1310, Henry VII crossed the Alps, hoping to reunite Germany and Italy. He was joyfully welcomed by the oppressed Ghibellines, while Dante hailed him as the deliverer of Italy, celebrating his appearance by a Latin essay, called Monarchy, and reserving a place for him in his Paradiso, marked with a crown. Having entered Milan in 1311, Henry placed the iron crown of Lombardy on his head. He met with an honorable reception in the Ghibelline city of Pisa.

But trouble soon showed itself. Poverty compelled Henry to exact money from the citizens; and the peaceful professions of the Guelphs were insincere. Notwithstanding all his efforts at reconciliation, the Guelphs and Florence, under the leadership of Robert of Sicily, rose against him. The pope also opposed him, and the king of Naples threw a garrison into Rome. Henry forced this garrison to retire into the Leonine City, while they held the Church of St. Peter against him. Thus cut off from the great cathedral, Henry was crowned emperor in the Church of St. John Lateran on June 29th, 1312.

Henry now endeavored to crush the Guelphic revolt, and raised an army, which he led into Tuscany, with the intention of chastising Florence; but the fatal air of Rome had so undermined his constitution that he died on August 24th, 1313. His body was taken to Pisa and was buried in the Campo Santi, a churchyard of the city. This event changed the situation. The Germans, deprived of their sovereign, disbanded and recrossed the Alps; and the Guelphs were again in the ascendancy. Henry died in the flower of his age and was the last of the German emperors who exercised any real authority in Italy. He was a man of great ability and noble character. The Guelph Villani wrote of him, “He was a man never depressed by adversity; never in prosperity elated with pride or intoxicated with joy.” His successors were not emperors in the sense in which that title can be employed to describe him and his predecessors. They were mainly the leaders of a faction of the Italian people, and some of them were never crowned emperor. The death of Henry was followed by a civil war in Germany, occasioned by a disputed succession.

The suspension of the imperial Roman sovereignty before the time of the aforesaid Henry resulted in this, that nearly all the Italian cities belonging to the Empire became subject to tyrants and usurpers; for the three kings preceding Henry did not go to Italy; so that the Italians, not incorrectly, said that the Empire was in abeyance. Thus the city of Verona had for its lords the LaScala; Mantua, the Passineros; and Padua, the Carraras. And it is said that the marquises of Este governed the city of Farrara for the Church.