Date of Birth: circa 1174
Spouse: (1) Agnes, daughter of Boniface, marquess of Montferrat, and Helena del Bosco, then (2) Maria, daughter of Kaloyan of Bulgaria
Predecessor: Baldwin I
Reign: 1206 – 1216
Summary: Among the many tragedies of the Fourth Crusade to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslims was the sacking of Constantinople by the Latin forces that sought to reclaim the east for Christendom. Henry was a willing participant in that sacking, first appearing in records in 1201 at the siege of Constantinople. During the siege in 1204, Henry and a group of knights and mounted men went to gain new supplies from the Black Sea region and were ambushed by the legitimate Byzantine Emperor, Alexius V. Henry routed the Byzantines and captured a revered icon which contained relics of Christ. It was partially because of this action that Henry became prominent among the Latin nobles. Baldwin, his brother, became the first of the Latin Emperors but was captured at the Battle of Adrianople in 1205 by Bulgarians loyal to the Byzantines. Henry was appointed regent for a year before taking the throne when news reached Constantinople that his brother had died.
Ruling Constantinople was a challenge, even though Henry had the skills and knowledge to adequately do so. For much of his reign, he sought to consolidate power and expand the empire's frontiers. He sent soldiers to fight the Bulgarians and the rival emperor at Nicaea. He succeeded in grabbing lands from his neighbors until 1214 when a cease-fire was agreed to. Henry treated the native Greeks in Constantinople as loyal citizens, unlike many of the Latin lords, and he stopped persecutions of the Orthodox Christians by Catholic clergy that had come to the city under Papal protection. Henry, unfortunately, died early, probably through poison administered by a former Thessaloniki regent, in June 1216. His Bulgarian wife may have been partially responsible for the crime. Henry's nephew, Peter II de Courtenay, was crowned his successor but never made it to Constantinople. For the next three years, the Latin Empire was ruled by Yolanda, sister of Henry and future successor of Peter, and by his mother, Margaret of Flanders.
Date of Death: 11 June 1216
Other Monarch Deaths:
Henry, co-king of England (1183)
James III, king of Scots (1488)
John III, king of Portugal (1557)
George I, king of Great Britain & Ireland (1727)
Adolf Friedrich V, grand duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1914)