Henri I "le Liberal" DE CHAMPAGNE Comte de Champagne (1152-1181)
- Born: 1127, Champagne, France
- Married: 1164, France
- Died: 16 Mar 1181, Troyes, Champagne, France
- Buried: St Étienne, , , France
Henry took part in the Second Crusade under the leadership of Louis VII of France. He carried a letter of recommendation from Bernard of Clairvaux addressed to Alexius I Comnenus, Byzantine Emperor; he is listed among the notables present at the assembly held by Baldwin III of Jerusalem at Acre on 24 June 1148.
On his father's death, Henry chose to take Champagne, leaving the family's older holdings (including Blois, Chartres, Sancerre, and Chateaudun) to his younger brothers. At the time this may have been surprising, for the other territories were richer and better developed. Henry must have foreseen the economic possibilities of Champagne, and it is during his rule that the county achieved its high place as one of the richest and strongest of the French principalities.
Henry established orderly rule over the nobles of Champagne, and could fairly reliably count on the aid of some 2,000 vassals, which just by itself made him a power few in France could equal. This order in turn made Champagne a safe place for merchants to gather, and under the count's protection the Champagne Fairs became a central part of long-distance trade and finance in medieval Europe.
In addition, the count's court in Troyes became a renowned literary center. Walter Map was among those who found hospitality there. The scholar Stephen of Alinerre was among Henry's courtiers, becoming chancellor of the county in 1176.
In 1179 Henry went to Jerusalem again with a party of French knights including his relatives Peter of Courtenay (brother of Louis VII) and Philip of Dreux, bishop of Beauvais. Henry returned towards Europe by the land route across Asia Minor, and was captured and held to ransom by Kilij Arslan II, Seljuk sultan of Rüm. The ransom was paid by the Byzantine Emperor and Henry was released, but died soon afterwards.
Henri married Marie CAPET of France, daughter of Louis VII "Le Jeune" CAPET King of France and Eléonore (Aliénor) D' AQUITAINE Duchesse d' Aquitane, Comtesse de Poitou, in 1164 in France. (Marie CAPET of France was born in 1145 in France, died on 11 Mar 1198 and was buried in Meaux, Seine-et-Marne, Île-de-France, France.)