Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony

Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony
Matilda of England
Duchess consort of Saxony and of Bavaria
Coronation 1188
Spouse Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and of Bavaria
Matilda, Countess of Perche and Coucy
Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine
Lothar of Bavaria
Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor, Duke of Swabia
William of Winchester, Lord of Lunenburg
House House of Plantagenet (by birth)
House of Welf (by marriage)
Father Henry II of England
Mother Eleanor of Aquitaine
Born 1156
Windsor Castle, Berkshire
Died 28 June 1189(1189-06-28) (aged 32–33)
Brunswick, Lower Saxony
Burial Brunswick Cathedral, Lower Saxony

Matilda of England (also called Maud; 1156 – 28 June 1189) was the eldest daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Through her marriage with Henry the Lion, she was Duchess of Saxony and later of Bavaria.


Early life

Matilda was a younger maternal half-sister of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France. She was a younger sister of William IX, Count of Poitiers and Henry the Young King. She was also an older sister of Richard I of England, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, Leonora of Aquitaine, Joan of England and John of England. Matilda seems to have spent much of her early life in the company of her mother, Queen Eleanor. She was named after her paternal grandmother.


In 1165 Rainald of Dassel, Archbishop of Cologne, arrived at the court of King Henry II at Rouen, to negotiate a German match for Matilda. There was conflict during the negotiations, however, when Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester refused to greet the archbishop, alleging him to be a schismatic and a supporter of the anti-pope, Victor IV. The original plan to match a daughter of Henry II with a son of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, was abandoned, and instead Matilda left England in September 1167 to marry Henry the Lion.

Coronation of Henry the Lion and Matilda, from an idealized portrait on their tomb.

She married Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, on 1 February 1168 at Minden Cathedral. They had four sons and one daughter:

Three other children are listed, by some sources, as having belonged to Henry and Matilda;

  • Eleanor (born 1178); died young
  • Ingibiorg (born 1180); died young
  • Son (stillborn 1182)

Regency and exile

The tombs of Henry and Matilda

At the time of their marriage, Henry the Lion was one of the most powerful allies of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Matilda governed her husband's vast estates during his absence in the Holy Land from 1172 to 1173. In 1174, Henry the Lion became involved in a conflict with the Emperor Frederick, and Henry and Matilda were forced to flee Germany and take refuge in Normandy at her father's court in 1182. During this time at the royal court at Argentan, Matilda became acquainted with the Troubadour Bertran de Born, who, calling her "Elena" or "Lana", made her the object of his desire in two of his poems of "courtly love".

Matilda, her husband, and their family remained in Normandy under the protection and support of King Henry until 1185, when they were allowed to return to Saxony. Early in 1189 the Emperor again ordered Henry the Lion to go into exile. This time Matilda remained at Brunswick to defend the interests of her husband but died just three months later.


External links


Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony
Cadet branch of the House of Anjou
Born: c. 1156 Died: 13 July 1189
German royalty
Title last held by
Clementia of Zähringen
Duchess consort of Saxony
Succeeded by
Judith of Poland
Duchess consort of Bavaria
Title next held by
Agnes of Loon

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