Otto Henry (German: Ottheinrich) (10 April 1502 - 12 February 1559) was the Elector Palatine from 1556 until 1559, and the Duke of Neuburg from 1505 until 1559.


Otto Henry was born in Amberg in 1502 as the eldest son of Rupert of the Palatinate, the former Bishop of Freising and a son of the Elector Palatine Philip. In 1503 the Landshut War of Succession broke out between the Palatinate and Bavaria-Munich over the inheritance of Bavaria-Landshut; the last Landshut duke George intended that his daughter Elizabeth (Otto Henry's mother) succeed him. The Palatinate lost and Bavaria-Landshut was inherited by the Munich line, but the Duchy of Neuburg was created for Otto Henry and his younger brother Philip.

In 1518 Otto Henry participated in the Imperial Diet at Augsburg. In 1519 he travelled to Spain with his uncle and guardian Frederick II to inform Charles V of his election to the Holy Roman Emperor. He then travelled through Castille, Aragon and the Burgundian Netherlands, and after a brief return to Germany set out in 1521 to travel to the Holy Land. He arrived at Jaffa on 10 July and in Jerusalem on 19 July. After a further tour through Palestine he returned to Neuburg.

In 1522 Otto Henry and his brother Philip celebrated their coming of age at the castle of Burglengenfeld. The brothers then took over the administrating of the Duchy of Neuburg, and Otto Henry began the reconstruction of the castle of Neuburg in a Renaissance style. He was involved in the Sickingen Feud in 1523 and the Peasants' War of 1525. In 1529 he married Susan of Bavaria, daughter of Duke Albert IV of Bavaria and widow of Margrave Casimir of Brandenburg-Kulmbach; the marriage remained childless. Due to his high-spending and lavish court life, Otto Henry soon faced bankruptcy and kept raising new credit to attempt to stave it off. He then attempted to pay it off through the 32,000 guldens owed to his grandmother by the King of Poland, which through interest amounted to 200,000, but he could only obtain the 32,000 after negotiations and thus remained financially insecure.

On his return to Germany he toured through the Polish cities acquiring works of art, which are only recently being recognised for the artistic and historical merit. On 22 June 1542 Otto Henry, under the influence of the theologian Andreas Osiander, officially introduced the Reformation by decree. By 1544 his debts accumulated to over 1,000,000 guldens. More than 600 creditors converged into Castle Neuburg and after the negotiations acquired the territorial rights to Neuburg. In September 1546 Imperial troops occupied the Duchy and Otto Henry was placed under the Imperial Ban and outlawed for promulgating the Reformation. He fled to his uncles court in Heidelberg before fleeing to the Carmelite Abbey of Weinheim. There he established an alchemical laboratory and attempted to make the Philosopher's Stone.

His brother Philip died in 1548 and Otto Henry inherited his meagre properties and money. He again started collecting for his library at the Abbey of Lorsch and Heidelberg, and later that year repurchased the extravagant carpets and tapestries of Neuburg made by Christian de Roy. In 1556 his uncle Frederick II finally died and Otto Henry succeeded him as Elector Palatine. Weighing almost 200 kg and his health failing, he reintroduced Protestantism in the Palatinate in 1557. In his short reign as Elector, he promoted science, ended papal theology at the University of Heidelberg, allowed the dissection of corpses for medicine students, and completed his book collection of the library. He died in Heidelberg in 1559.


Otto Henry married Susan of Bavaria (1502 - 1543) in 1529. The marriage was childless.

Otto Henry, Elector Palatine
Born: 1502 Died: 1559
Preceded by
No title
Count Palatine of Neuburg
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Frederick II
Elector Palatine
Succeeded by
Frederick III
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.