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Matilda of Swabia

The basics
About
Occupation Aristocrat
Date of birth
Date of death Jul 29, 1032
Family
Mother: Gerberga of Burgundy
Father: Herman II Duke of Swabia
Spouse: Frederick II Duke of Upper Lorraine Conrad I Duke of Carinthia
Children: Sophie Countess of Bar Frederick III Duke of Upper Lorraine Beatrice of Lorraine Conrad II Duke of Carinthia
Authority VIAF id
The details
Biography

Matilda of Swabia (c. 988/9 – c. 1030/4) (also Mathilde) was a member of the Conradine dynasty. She was married firstly to Conrad of Carinthia and secondly to Frederick of Upper Lotharingia. She played an active role in promoting her son, Conrad II, as a candidate for the German throne after 1024. To this end, she corresponded with King Mieszko II of Poland.

Life

Family

Matilda was born circa 988. Her parents were Herman II, Duke of Swabia and his wife Gerberga of Burgundy, daughter of Conrad I of Burgundy. She had many illustrious relatives. Through her father, Matilda was descended from Henry the Fowler; through her mother from Louis IV of France and Charlemagne. Matilda’s sister, Gisela of Swabia married Emperor Conrad II. Their cousin was Henry II. After the death of Emperor Otto III, Matilda’s father, Herman, opposed the election of Henry II as king of Germany, and promoted himself as a rival candidate for the throne. (Herman and Henry both claimed descent from Henry the Fowler, progenitor of the Ottonian dynasty.)

First marriage

c.1001/2 Matilda married Conrad of Carinthia, a member of the Salian dynasty. Conrad I supported her father’s bid for the German throne. Their marriage was consanguineous and was condemned by Henry II (her father’s rival) at the synod of Thionville (January 1003). Nevertheless, the couple remained together until Conrad’s death in 1011. After Conrad died, his young son with Matilda, Conrad II was passed over in the succession for the duchy of Carinthia. Instead Henry II (who was now crowned king of Germany), passed the duchy to Adalbert of Eppenstein, who was married to Matilda’s sister, Beatrice.

Second marriage

Matilda had married her second husband, Frederick of Upper Lotharingia c. 1012/3. This marriage was also consanguineous. Frederick is usually said to have died c.1026, although it is possible that he lived until 1033.

Possible third marriage

Following an entry in the Annalista Saxo, Matilda is sometimes said to have married a third time, c.1026, to Esico of Ballenstedt. (This is not possible if her first husband Frederick lived until 1033.)

Relationship with Emperor Conrad II

After the death of her first husband, Matilda’s son, Conrad II (or Conrad ‘the Younger’) was placed in the care of one of his Salian relatives, Conrad ‘the Elder’ (future king of Germany). A few years later (c.1016/7), Matilda’s sister, Gisela, married Conrad the Elder. In 1019, Conrad the Elder supported Matilda’s son, Conrad the Younger, when he tried to reclaim the duchy of Carinthia from Adalbert. The attempt was unsuccessful and caused Conrad the Elder to go into exile. In 1024, Emperor Henry II died childless. Both Conrad the Elder and Conrad the Younger (who were descended from Henry the Fowler) promoted themselves as candidates for the throne. Conrad the Elder was elected king of Germany (as Conrad II) at an assembly at Kamba (near Oppenheim) on 4 September 1024. Conrad the Younger refused to accept the new king. Matilda’s second husband, Frederick, continued to support Conrad the Younger, as did Conrad’s cousin, Ernest II of Swabia. Matilda herself was active on her sons’s behalf.

Letter to Mieszko II of Poland

Between 1025-1027 Matilda opened negotiations with King Mieszko II of Poland. Mieszko was also opposed to Conrad the Elder/Conrad II, because he refused to recognise Mieszko as king of Poland. Matilda presented Mieszko with a valuable liturgical manuscript (the Liber de Officiis divinis). The dedicatory page of the book contained a letter from Matilda to Mieszko (Epistola ad Mathildis Suevae Misegonem II Poloniae Regem) in which she named him a distinguished king, praised him for his building of new churches, and knowledge of Latin, and wished him strength against his enemies. The dedicatory page also contained a miniature depicting Matilda giving the book to Mieszko, who is shown wearing a crown and seated on a throne. The gift had the desired effect, and Mieszko promised to take military action. By 1028, however, Emperor Conrad II defeated all his opponents.

By 1030 Matilda seems to have been on good terms with Emperor Conrad II again. She joined Conrad II and her sister, Empress Gisela, at the imperial court at Ingelheim in Easter 1030. In 1035, Emperor Conrad II deprived Adalbert of the duchy of Carinthia for rebelling against him. Conrad II restored Conrad the Younger to the duchy.

Death

Matilda died sometime after Easter 1030 (when she was at the imperial court) and before January 1034, when Emperor Conrad II issued a diploma at the intervention of his wife Gisela, commemorating her death. She is often said to have died on 29 July 1032. She was buried in the cathedral at Worms. After Matilda's death, her young daughters (Beatrice and Sophie) from her second marriage to Frederick were adopted by her sister, Empress Gisela.

Children

With her first husband, Conrad, Matilda had three children:

  • Conrad II
  • Bishop Bruno of Würzburg
  • Gisela (?), who married Count Gerhard of Metz, whose brother was Bruno of Toul (later Pope Gregory V).

With her second husband, Frederick, Matilda had three children:

  • Frederick III
  • Beatrice
  • Sophie

If she was married to Esico, Matilda had two further children:

  • Adalbert II of Ballenstedt
  • Adelaide of Ballenstadt, wife of Thiemo of Schraplau
  • Goez, Beatrix, p. 11
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