and his Sons






Henry IV


Henry V

Henry IV and his sons




The Portraits




Duke of Bavaria



King of Germany

Roman Emperor

*11.XI.1050 - † 7.VIII.1106

1053 - 1054

1054 - 1084

Crowned Aachen 17.VII.1154

1056 - 1106

1084 - 1105

Crowned Rome 31.III.1084


Henry IV in the year of his coronation at the age of four, sitting on the knee of his mother Agnes of  Poitou. [1]



It is said that no contemporary portraits of Henry IV are preserved. Nevertheless we may reconstruct a series of portraits from different sources. From this series we may conclude that Henry IV was a quite handsome man in his youth, with large black eyes and wearing a short black beard. On his later portraits his face is wrinkled and shows the traces of his hard life. At the end of his life his beard is white and thin. 









Fresco in the church of  S. Silvester

 in Tivoli. [2]


Relief from the city walls of Speyer,

12th c.  [3]

King Henry presents a manuscript to the Mother of  God

Miniature in a 11th c. manuscript




Bust of a reliquary.

Bourg St Pierre, 12th -13th c.

 The face quite dented  [4]


Henry IV in the

Ekkehard of Aura Chronicle (after1106)

with the crown of Italy

King David on a mosaic in the right side-nave of San Marco Basilica, Venice



Duke of Lower Lorraine 


King of Italy


*12.II.1074 - † 27.VII.1101

1076 - 1087

1087 - 1198

1093 - 1098



As we may conclude from the next few illustrations Conrad is mainly depicted being of a young age. This maybe is due to the fact that he betrayed his father in 1093 by joining the papal party and by proclaiming himself a king of Italy at the age of 19. This explains also why there are no later portraits found of him in German sources. It may be possible that some portraits of him as a king of Italy and even of him as a nobleman out-of-office can be found in Tuscany where he resided with Countess Mathilda of Tuscany, in Mailand where he was crowned or in Cremona where met Pope Urban II. For this we must trust the attention of Italian researchers.


Shrine of St. Hadelinus

Mosan-area, about 1130-1150. Visé, Eglise Saint-Martin.

Wooden structure, chased silver plate, cast bronze and varnish. H. 54 – L. 150 – B. 34 cm. Both reliefs on the facade and back are from an older Shrine of St. Hadelinus and were reused for the actual one. [5]


The shrine shows a young man or even a child, in coat-of-mail, keeping a sceptre in his right and an open book showing the letters A and ω in his left. Behind his head is a crossed halo.To be noticed ist his hair-cut, the hair combed backwards. At his feet are a lion and a dragon, the symbols of  Ecclesia and Synagogue (the new end the old testament).


The relief could very well be a portrait of Conrad, then still only son of Henry IV, as a Duke of Lower Lorraine. This would explain the young age of the boy,  as Conrad was a duke from the age of two to thirteen. Because he was given the right to bear arms only when he was fifteen, it would also explain why he is wearing a coat-of mail but no arms.

As he was a Duke of Lower Lorraine this may explain why the shrine is in the treasure of the Church of Saint Martin in Visé, some 25 km west of Aachen where he was inaugurated as a king on 30 May 1087.

As Conrad was educated by the Archbishop of Milan, the bible and the symbols of Synagogue and Ecclesia may be explained.


St. Maurice on the back of an Evangeliary.

Mainz, 11th century  [6]


This may be a portrait of  Conrad at the age of about 19, in the year that he changed sides and betrayed his father (1093). St. Maurice was the patron-saint of the Salians, some of their treasures are still in St. Maurice en Agaune (CH). The shield has still the traditional circular form with iron fittings. The arabesques match with the arabesques on the Goslar Throne (1084). Mainz was the center of the opposition against Henry IV. Two counter kings were anointed by the Archbishop of Mainz: Rudolf von Rheinfelden (1077)  and Hermann von Salm (1081).





King of Germany

Roman Emperor

*11.VIII.1081 - † 23.V.1125

1099 - 1106

1106 - 1125

7.VIII.1111 - 1125


Very little is known about the early years of Henry (V) because he lived in the shadow of his elder brother Conrad. Only after the return of Henry IV to Germany in 1097 Henry (V) appeared as a successor of his father.



Presentation of the Manuscript (detail).

Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett. Hs. 78A2: Perikopenbuch Heinrichs III. fol 1 v°. Reichenau, um 1040/1185.


A ruler on his throne, dressed in a blue tunica and a green cloak, crowned with a hooped crown and in his left hand an orb with a golden eagle rising. On the left side of him a young man with a sword and a red shield with golden umbo.

The king certainly can not be king Conrad II or king Henry III because these had red pointed beards. For this reason the king has to be king Henry IV and the boy has to be his son Henry, probably at the age of sixteen when his father had returned from Italy. In that year Henry IV was 47 which explains the face marked by age of the sitting emperor. This picture should be compared with the Reliquary bust from Bourg St. Pierre.

In this miniature we may determine the golden eagle as a symbol of a patricius and consequently of the roman king and emperor. The red shield makes the boy a high-ranked warrior, probably a (non-operational) marchal. It is a Norman shield, in vogue after the succesful raids of the Normans in England (1066) and in Rome (1084).





Henry IV and Henry V at the river Regen, autumn 1105.

Illustration in the Chronica of Otto von Freising, 1157. Codex Jenensis Bose q.6, fol. 91b.


The Emperor Henry IV (senior) armed with a shield showing an eagle. His son (Junior) with a shield bendy. We may notice that the eagle is drawn in outline which suggests it was not black but, probably, gold.



Henry IV presents the insignia of the empire to his son Henry V, 6 January 1106.

Ekkehard von Aura Chronicle. (Corp. Christi Coll. Cambridge, Ms. 373)


This is one of the best contemporary portraits of Henry IV and V because Ekkehard von Aura, who died 1125, must have met them. It should be noticed that the regalia consist of a circlet, an orb and a lily-sceptre. The ring and the sword were sent to Henry V after the death of his father.



King Salomon on a mosaic in the right side-nave of the San Marco Basilica, Venice.

This may be a somewhat idealized  portrait of Henry V soon after his coronation in 1106. His crown resembles the crown as depicted in the Cronica of Otto von Freising.



A later portrait of  King Henry V

showing his thin moustache.

Ekkehard of Aura Chronicle

 Corp. Christi Coll. Cambridge, Ms. 373, fol 60 r°.


Henry V with eagle sceptre and orb.

Cracow, Library of the Chapter of the Cathedral, Ms. 208, fol. 1r.


As in his portrait in the Ekkehard of Aura Chronicle, Henry V has a thin moustache and bears the royal insignia which dates this portrait before 1111 when he was crowned Emperor.


ð A reconstruction of the bust of Henry IV was made for an exhibition in the ‘Historisches Museum der Pfalz’ 2006. The bust presented certainly is not of Henry IV but of his son Henry V as may be concluded from the preceding pages. As a consequence the reconstruction is wrong or the remains in the tomb openend in 1900 are not of Henry IV but of Henry V. 


The Emperor Henry IV and his Sons


The Emperor Henry IV with his sons Henry (V) and Conrad.

Miniature in the Regensburg Evangeliary of Henry V (1106-1111).

Cracow, Library of the Chapter of the Cathedral, Ms. 208, fol. 2 v.


The emperor with an orb with a golden eagle with silver wings, both kings with an orb with a silver eagle with golden wings.


This manuscript may have been meant to rehabilitate his brother who had died as a deposed and powerless king of Italy in 1101, and of his father who was banned in 1102 and as a consequence could not be interred in consecrated ground. Only in 1111 the ban was lifted posthumously by Pope Paschalis II.




The Venetian Eagles

Mosaic in the floor of  San Marco, end of 11th century.


The work on the mosaics of  the San Marco of Venice started during the reign of the Doge Domenico Selvo (1071-’84). In 1094 the basilica was consecrated. In the summer of 1095 Henry IV visited Venice and thus we may suppose that the eagles are meant to honour him and, maybe, his sons. [7] The eagles correspond with the titles of co-regent or king of Germany, roman patricius or emperor of the Empire and king of Italy, as depicted in the Cracow manuscript. They also correspond with the corona ferrea, the corona aurea and the corona argentea depicted by Matthew Paris describing the coronation of Otto IV as Emperor in Rome in 1199. [8]



ð This implies that with the ‘Iron Crown’ ist meant the crown of Germany and not the Iron Crown of Lombardy (!) [9]



Shrine of the Sons of Sigismond. Side A.

1160 ca. Abbaye de St. Maurice en Agaune.


A crowned ruler with sceptre sitting on a lion throne. On his left two men standing, the one next to him holding a sword upright. Above his head the legend REX SIGISMVNDVS.



Sigismond-shrine. Side B

In the sitting ruler we recognize Emperor Henry IV and in the two standing men his sons Conrad and Henry (V). Like the portraits in the Regensburg Evangeliar the men are portrayed as having about the same age, all wearing a (short) beard.

Nevertheless we recognize the parted hair of Henry V on his portrait of 1106 and also the hair-cut of Henry IV.

Maybe the arrangement depicts the deposing of Conrad and the proclamation of Henry as a king instead in 1198. In that year Henry being at most 17 years of age, certainly had no beard. This suggests that the reason why the portraits were made was not to depict a reality but was to make propaganda.

The arrangement becomes clear when we take the opposite side B of the shrine into consideration.

This side shows a rider on horseback, armed with a shield with a latin cross. The knight can be determined as king Conrad III (*1093-†1152) as a crusader (1147-’48). In all, on the shrine are portrayed Conrad III, his grandfather Henry IV and his maternal uncles Conrad and Henry (V), thus legitimizing his kingship by descend. [10]


The Regalia.


What we may notice in the documents presented is a bewildering variety in the regalia depicted. The crowns for example sometimes have hoops, like the funeral crown of Henry IV in the collection of the Historical Museum in Speyer. Sometimes they are pointed and sometimes, like in the early portraits of Henry V, they just consist of a circlet. Apart of the socalled Crown of Empress Kunigonde, none of such crowns have been preserved and it may even be doubtful if they ever existed outside the imagination of the artists. 


Also, the orbs depicted are quite different. Some of them consist of a globe surmounted by a square cross and this is the form the younger orbs always have had. Very a-typical are the orbs on top of a sceptre and the orbs surmounted by an eagle.


The pictures show a continued use of the eagle-topped sceptre and the lily sceptre.


What we are missing are the Holy lance of St. Maurice and the imperial sword. These have been preserved in the Weltliche und Geistliche Schatzkammer in Vienna.[11]


The sword, made for the coronation of Henry IV in 1084 may have been depicted in the Perikopenbuch miniature in the hands of Henry (V). [12] The scabbard is not shown but the pommel of the sword  has the form of the pommel of the sword of Emperor Otto IV (1198-1214). This would imply that the sword was actually made for Henry IV but was changed by Otto IV by replacing the cross guard by a new, inscribed one. There is, however, no proof for this hypothesis.


We are also missing the ring which was sent to Henry V. This ring maybe, was the ring found in the tomb of Henry IV and which is preserved in the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer. It bears the inscription “ADELBERO EPS”, and may have been the ring of Archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg (910-981) who played an important role at the court of the Ottonian emperors.


Some Conclusions


From the series of portraits we may conclude that the painters were quite well up in the matter of the features of their subjects but were badly briefed about the actual form of the regalia, be it the crowns, the orbs or the sceptres. This implies that these were scarcely worn or shown and probably were most of the time kept under lock and key.


Another problem caused by this inaccuracy is that we cannot deduct from these pictures what dignity these regalia actually symbolized. Nevertheless we may suppose that the hooped crown was the distinctive of the emperor, the leafed crown of a king and the circlet of a lower administrator, be it a co-regent, a duke or a count. Also we may suppose that the orb with the cross is meant as the symbol of the Christian Empire. The orbs with the eagles were probably meant as the symbols of the kingdoms within that Empire (Rome, Germany, Italy and Burgundy)


The eagle for sure is the symbol of a consul, that is to say a military commander on the highest operational level. It is striking that the eagles are differentiated by colour and that we do not only see a golden and a silver eagle but also a black one. This black eagle probably followed the example of the black eagle on the chasuble of Brixen which is made of Byzantine purple silk, strewn with black eagles. We may consider these black eagles as the predecessors of the German (and Sicilian) eagle.


The Arms


From the point of view of mediæval heraldry, the occurrence of the shield charged with an eagle is remarkable. Of course, we do not know if this shield was actually used by Henry IV because it is only documented some fifty years after the event. Nor do we know the heraldic tinctures of the arms.


In this context we must point at the Norman shields charged with dragons on the well known Bayeux Tapestry telling the conquest of England in 1066.

Also, an 11c. Byzantine icon shows a warrior with a Norman shield charged with an eagle (or bird) reguardant proper. (picture on the left) [13]

As the icon originates from southern Italy, probably one of the last catepans of Italy is depicted and such a military commander had the rank of strategos and bore the title of patrikios. [14]

This would demonstrate that a shield charged with an eagle was already known  in the time of Henry IV and that it was a prerogative of a high-ranked  operational warrior.

The coloured eagle of the icon is in the tradition of the colored eagle-fibulae of Empress Gisela (1024-1039) [15]


This makes it possible that Henry IV charged the red shield, borne by his son in about 1097, with the golden eagle from atop of his orb. This would mean that he bore:

Arms: Gules, an eagle Or.



© Hubert de Vries 2009-07-14




[1] Hovener Madonna, Köln (1160-’70?). From the chapel of Marsdorf  near Frechen (about 12 km west of Köln). Today in Zülpich-Hoven (KreisEuskirchen) Kloster Marienborn. Rhein und Maas, Kunst und Kultur 800-1400. Köln, 1972 Nr. J 33. The date given in the catalogue may be corrected to 1054. Agnes of Poitou died in 1077 at the age of about 52.  Another  picture of Agnes in the Speyer Evangeliary, 1046. ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_of_Poitou )

[2]  On the same fresco on the left  is a portrait of his father Henry III.

[3]   From the “Neupörtel”. Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer.

[4] From the church of Bourg Saint-Pierre (at the northern entrance of the S. Bernardino). Chased silver, 12th-13th c. H. 44,5 cm.  Sion, Valère, Musée cantonal d’histoire et d’ethnographie.

[5]) Rhein und Maas. Kunst und Kultur  800-1400. Köln 1972. Kat. N° G 4, p. 242. Abb. p. 229.

[6]  Copper, gold-plated and engraved. H. 27, W. 22 cm. Mainz, Stadbibliothek Ms.  II, 3. Exposed in the Gutenbergmuseum.  A date of  “about the middle of the 11century” is given.

[7])  In 1095 Conrad was king of Italy against his fathers will and Henry (V) was only nine years old.

[8])  Matthew Paris Chronica Majora. Cambridge Corpus Christi College  Ms 16, fol. 18. Lower right margin three crowns (Corona argentea, corona aurea, corona ferrea) above a shield (or, a double eagle sable): Otto creatur in imperatorem Romanorum; and a second shield (gules, three lions passant gardant or, dimidiating or, a double eagle sable): Scutum mutatum pro amore regis Angliæ.

[9]   Bárány-Oberschall, Magda von-: Die Eiserne Krone der Lombardei und der Lombardische Königsschatz. Wien 1966. The description of the crown of Lombardy, preserved in Monza. as the “Iron Crown” occurs quite late in history.

[10]   Thurre, Daniel: L’Atelier Roman d’Orfèvrerie de l’Abbay de Saint-Maurice. Sierre, 1992, who gets hopelessly entangled in his sophisticated art-historical analysis.

[11]  Inv. nr. XIII 19; Inv. Nr. XIII 17.

[12]  Schulze-Dörrlamm, Mechthild: Das Reichsschwert ein Herrschaftszeichen des Saliers Heinrich IV. und des Welfen Otto IV.  Mit dem Excurs der verschollenen Gürtel Kaiser Ottos IV. Sigmaringen, 1995.

[13] Composite icon with crucifixion, Christ, Saints and gospel scenes. Enamel XI - XII c. Silver XI & XIV c. Hermitage, St. Petersburg N° ω211. The icon was purchased in Rome and, according to the seller, came from Southern Italy. In: Vizantinskoi Iskusstvo. Moscow, 1966.  n° 186.

[14] In Byzantium, the term strategos was reserved for the generals, and specifically for the rank of magister militum. With the creation of the Theme system however, the strategos became an office combining military and civilian authority over a province (thema).

[15]  Of German manufacture. Found in Mainz and today in the Altertumsmuseum in Mainz.