Southern Anthology

Families on the Frontiers of the Old South

Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony

Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony[1]

Female 1156 - 1189  (~ 33 years)

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  • Name Matilda of England 
    Suffix Duchess of Saxony 
    Born Jun 1156  London, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 3, 4
    • "[L]ess probably" born at Windsor Castle. [2]
    Gender Female 
    Died 28 Jun 1189  Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Buried Brunswick Cathedral, Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Matilda of England
    Matilda of England
    Braunschweig Cathedral, Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany
    Notes 
    • MATILDA, Duchess of Saxony (1156-1189), third child and eldest daughter of Henry II, king of England, and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine [q. v.], was born in 1156 (R. Diceto, i. 302), and baptised in the church of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, by Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury (Hist. Trinity, Aldgate, in App. to Hearne's W. Newburgh, iii. 706). In 1160 the queen took her daughter to join the king in Normandy (R. Torgigni, p. 207); they seem to have brought her back with them in January 1163. Early in 1165 an embassy came from the emperor, Frederic Barbarossa, to ask in marriage two of Henry's daughters, one for Frederic's son, the other for his cousin, Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony. The former of these proposals came to nothing; the second was accepted for Matilda, who then accompanied her mother on another visit to Normandy, whence they returned in the autumn of 1166 (ib. pp. 224, 225, 233, dating the return a year too late). The earliest extant register of English tenants-in-chivalry and their holdings, still preserved in the Red and Black Books of the Exchequer, was probably compiled with a view to the assessment of the aid levied by the king for his daughter's marriage. Early in 1167 the duke sent envoys to fetch his bride. She sailed from Dover about Michaelmas, was accompanied by her mother to Normandy, and thence proceeded, probably after Christmas, to Germany (Gerv. Cant. i. 205; R. Diceto, i. 330; Eyton, Itin. Hen. II, p. 109). The duke met her at Minden, and there they were married by Bishop Werner in the cathedral church, 1 Feb. 1168 (Chron. Episc. Mindens., quoted in Leibnitz's Orig. Guelf. iii. 69).

      Henry the Lion was twenty-seven years older than his child-bride; he had been married long before she was born, and divorced from his first wife in 1162. First cousin to the emperor, he was Duke of Bavaria, Saxony, and Brunswick; from the Elbe to the Rhine, from the Hartz to the sea, all was his. Brunswick was his home; there the new-married couple held their wedding-feast (Ann. Stadens., Pertz, xvi. 346); and there their first child, Richenza, was born during her father's absence on pilgrimage in 1172 (Arn. Lubeck in Pertz, xxi. 116). Two sons were born in the next eight years. In January 1180 (Böhmer, Regesta Reg. Roman. p. 140) a quarrel which had long been smouldering between the duke and the emperor ended in Henry's condemnation, by a diet at Würzburg, to forfeiture of all his territories (Gesta Hen. i. 249; Rog. Howden, ii. 201). He refused to submit, and Frederic laid siege to Brunswick just as Matilda had given birth within its walls to her third son. She appealed to the emperor's chivalry; he sent her a tun of wine, and raised the siege (Chron. Laudun., with a wrong date, in Rer. Gall. Scriptt. xviii. 703). At the end of November 1181 the duke submitted, and abjured his country for three years (Ann. Palidens., Pertz, xvi. 96; Arn. Lubeck, ib. xxi. 142). Frederic secured to Matilda the revenues of her dower-lands, and offered to let her dwell on them in peace, but she preferred to go with her husband to her father's court (Gesta Hen. i. 288). Their daughter and two of their sons accompanied them; the third, Lothar, was left in Germany (R. Diceto, ii. 13). They reached Argentan in the summer of 1182 (cf. Gesta Hen. i. 288, and Eyton, Itin. Hen. II, p. 248), and there soon afterwards their fourth son was born (Gesta Hen. l. c.). On 12 June 1184 Matilda went to England (ib. p. 312), and in that year her fifth son, William, was born at Winchester (ib. p. 313; R. Diceto, ii. 22). In November she was in London with her husband; at Christmas both were at Windsor with the king (Gesta Hen. i. 319, 333). In 1185, the three years having expired, and Henry II having obtained for his son-in-law the restitution of the allodial lands of Brunswick, Matilda returned thither with her husband and sons (ib. pp. 322, 334; Arn. Lubeck, Pertz, xxi. 156). In the spring of 1189 the emperor bade Henry the Lion either accompany him on crusade, or go into exile again till his return. Henry again sought refuge in England (Gesta Hen. ii. 62); Matilda remained with her children at Brunswick, and there died, 28 June (Ann. Stederburg., Pertz, xvi. 221), or 13 July (R. Diceto, ii. 65). Two original portraits of her exist in the church of St. Blasius at Brunswick; one, a picture representing her marriage, painted early in the thirteenth century; the other, a recumbent figure carved in stone upon her tomb. Both are engraved in Leibnitz's Origines Guelficæ (vol. iii. pl. iii. and xiv.). She seems to have been tall and handsome. The troubadour Bertrand de Born wrote two love-songs in which he celebrates her under the name of Elena (Raynouard, Poésies des Troubadours, iii. 135, 137, v. 81; Clédat, Bert. de Born, pp. 79, 81). Her husband returned to Brunswick after Frederic's death, and dying there in 1195 was buried at her right hand, choosing to sleep beside her in death as in life (Ann. Stederburg, Pertz, xvi. 231). His people revered her as ?a most religious woman, whose memory is of note before God and man, whose good works and sweet disposition enhanced the lustre of the long royal line whence she sprang; a woman of profound piety, of wondrous sympathy for the afflicted, of much almsgiving and many prayers (Arn. Lubeck, Pertz, xxi. 116). Her eldest child, Richenza, is said by some writers to have married Waldemar II, king of Denmark; but it is clear that this is a mistake (see Scheid's note in Orig. Guelf. iii. 172), and that Richenza is identical with the daughter whom the English chroniclers call Matilda, who was left in Normandy with her grandparents in 1185, returned to England with them in 1186 (Gesta Hen. i. 345), was married, first, in 1189, to Geoffrey of Perche (ib. ii. 73), and secondly, between 1200 and 1205, to Ingelram III of Coucy, and died before 1210 (Leibnitz, Orig. Guelf. iii. 174?5, 583?5). The eldest son, Henry, assumed the title of Duke of Saxony on his father's death, became count palatine of the Rhine in 1196, and died in 1227, leaving only two daughters. His brother Otto, nominated by his uncle Richard I as Earl of York in 1190, and Count of Poitou in 1196, was chosen emperor in 1198, crowned at Rome in 1209, and died childless in 1218. Lothar died in 1190. The boy born at Argentan in 1182 is never heard of again; doubtless he died in infancy. Matilda's youngest child, the English-born William?of Winchester, died in 1213, leaving by his wife, Helen, daughter of Waldemar I of Denmark, a son named Otto, who became sole heir male of the family on the death of his uncle Henry in 1227, and from whom sprang the ducal house of Brunswick and Luneburg, and the present royal house of England. [5]
    Person ID I10832  Dickinson
    Last Modified 23 Nov 2017 

    Father Henry II, King of England,   b. 5 Mar 1133, Palais de Comtes du Maine, Le Mans, Sarthe, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Jul 1189, Chinon Castle, Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Mother Eleanor d'Aquitaine, Duchess of Aquitaine,   b. Abt 1124, Château de Belin, Guienne, France Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Apr 1204, Fontevraud Abbey, Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, Maine-et-Loire, Pays de la Loire, France Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 80 years) 
    Relationship Birth 
    Married 18 May 1152  Poitiers Cathedral, Poitiers, Poitou-Charentes, France Find all individuals with events at this location  [6, 7, 8
    Family ID F2977  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Heinrich der Löwe, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria,   b. 1129, Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Aug 1195, Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Married 1 Feb 1168  Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 9, 10, 11
    Children 
    +1. Mathilde van Sachsen,   b. 1172,   d. ca. 1210  (Age 38 years)  [Birth]
     2. Heinrich I van Sachsen, Pfalzgraf bei Rhein,   b. 1173, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 28 Apr 1227, Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 54 years)  [Birth]
     3. Lothar,   b. ca. 1174,   d. 15 Oct 1190, Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 16 years)  [Birth]
     4. Otto IV of Brunswick, Holy Roman Emperor,   b. ca. 1175, Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 May 1218, The Harzburg, Bad Harzburg, Lower Saxony, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 43 years)  [Birth]
     5. William of Winchester, Lord of Lüneburg,   b. 11 Apr 1184, Winchester Castle, Winchester, Hampshire Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Dec 1213  (Age 29 years)  [Birth]
     6. Gertrude  [Birth]
     7. Ingibiorg  [Birth]
    Last Modified 24 Oct 2017 
    Family ID F2979  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - Jun 1156 - London, England Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1 Feb 1168 - Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 28 Jun 1189 - Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - - Brunswick Cathedral, Brunswick, Lower Saxony, Germany Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Sources 
    1. [S336463] Medieval Lands: A prosopography of medieval European noble and royal families, Charles Cawley, (Online: The Foundation for Medieval Genealogy at http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/, 20XX), http://bit.ly/1IxiNGa.

    2. [S336429] Britain's Royal Families: A Complete Genealogy, Alison Weir, (London: Vintage Books, 2008), 62.

    3. [S23] The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, Dan Jones, (New York: Viking, 2012), 48.

    4. [S422] Richard I (English Monarchs Series), John Gillingham, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 28.

    5. [S336351] Dictionary of National Biography, 63 volumes, Sir Sidney Lee, ed., (New York: McMillan and Company, 1885-1900), Public Domain., vol. 37, 58-59.

    6. [S436] Chroniques des Églises d'Anjou, Marchegay & Mabille, eds., (Paris: 1869).
      Chronicæ Sanct Albini Andegavensis

    7. [S23] The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, Dan Jones, (New York: Viking, 2012), 30.

    8. [S336465] Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, Alison Weir, (New York: Ballantine iBook, 2008), 127.

    9. [S336465] Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life, Alison Weir, (New York: Ballantine iBook, 2008), 277.

    10. [S23] The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England, Dan Jones, (New York: Viking, 2012), 69.

    11. [S421] The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones, Thomas Asbridge, (New York: HarperCollins, 2014), 90.