Educated in the Christian faith by St. Wolfgang, Bishop of Ratisbon, at 30, he succeeded his cousin Otto III on the royal throne, and twelve years later he was crowned Holy Emperor by Pope Benedict VIII. Sincerely religious, Henry encouraged the reform of the Church, fostered missionary activity, and made several charitable foundations for the poor.
He wished to become a monk, and in virtue of his imperial power, he ordered the Abbot of Verdun to accept him in his monastery. Whereupon, the Abbot ordered him, in virtue of the vows he had professed, to continue the administration of the empire. Henry fulfilled his duties in the spirit of humility and service, being convinced that temporal power was given by God for the good of the people.
He died childless in 1024 and was the last of the Saxon dynasty of German kings.