Barbara of Brandenburg

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Barbara of Brandenburg
Queen consort of Bohemia
Reign 1476–1490/1500
House House of Hohenzollern
Father Albrecht III, Elector of Brandenburg
Mother Anna of Saxony
Born 30 May 1464
Died 4 September 1515
Burial Heilsbronn

Barbara of Brandenburg (30 May 1464 – 4 September 1515), was a German noblewoman member of the House of Hohenzollern, by birth Margravine of Brandenburg and by her two marriages Duchess of Głogów and Queen of Bohemia.

She was born in Ansbach as the tenth of the nineteen children of Albrecht III Achilles, Margrave and from 1471 Elector of Brandenburg; however she was the fourth child born from his second marriage to Anna of Saxony.


In Berlin on 11 October 1472, eight-year-old Barbara married Duke Henry XI of Głogów, around thirty years her senior. In the marriage contract was stipulated that, in case of the Duke's death without issue, all his lands were to be passed to his wife, with reversion to her family. Four years later, on 22 February 1476, Henry IX died suddenly, probably poisoned by Brandenburg agents. This death left Barbara as the Sovereign Duchess of Głogów, but a long succession war erupted. Henry IX's closest male relative, his cousin Jan II the Mad, former Duke of Żagań, claimed the whole inheritance, but he had to face not only the pretensions of the Elector of Brandenburg but also the intervention of Kings Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and Vladislaus II of Bohemia.

At the end of the succession dispute, Barbara -who counted on the support of the Głogów states-, after the violent dispute with Jan II the Mad, finally obtained the Duchy of Crossen, with the towns of Bobrowice, Sulechów and Lubsko,[1] pledged to the Electorate of Brandenburg against Barbara's dowry, a sum of 50,000 florins.[2]

In the name of his daughter, Albrecht III Achilles appointed Otto von Schenk as provincial administrator.[3] Nine months later, the twelve-year-old Dowager Duchess of Głogów and Crossen was married again, this time to King Vladislaus II of Bohemia, who wanted to annex Głogów to his domains. The wedding, performed per procurationem (by proxy), took place in the city of Frankfurt an der Oder on 20 August 1476.

Due to the events of war Barbara couldn't travel to Bohemia for her marriage in person and coronation as Queen. Shortly after, Vladislaus II determined that his unconsummated and only juridical marriage with the Brandenburg princess was useless and began to seek the legal separation. This enraged Albert III Achilles, who in 1481 obtained a compensation payment; however, with the mediation of the Bishops of Bamberg and Würzburg, he still wanted to continue the marital bond, and even offered his ten year old daughter Dorothea as a replacement of her older sister, if the King did not want her any more. The Bohemian King refused any other agreement with the House of Hohenzollern, but remained legally married to Barbara although he never saw her.

At the death of Matthias Corvinus (6 May 1490), the Bohemian King pursued the Hungarian crown too, and in order to obtain more support for this, he secretly married with Corvinus' widow, Beatrice of Naples on 4 October. After the union became public, this caused an scandal, because Vladislaus II was bigamous. This situation lasted for the next ten years, where he became increasingly desperate for an heir, because his Neapolitan consort was unable to bear him children.

In the meanwhile, Barbara foght against her family for a divorce from Vladislaus II; also, she became secretly engaged with the knight Conrad of Heideck (1495). As a punishment for her independent behavior, Barbara was imprisoned in Plassenburg until Heideck broke off the engagement. Five years later, on 7 April 1500, Pope Alexander VI finally declared dissolved both marriages of Vladislaus II. Beatrice of Naples retired to Ischia, where she died eight years later. In 1502 the Bohemian-Hungarian King married with Anne of Foix-Candale, relative of the Kings of France and Navarre, who bore him the needed heirs.

Barbara, without domains or incomes, probably remained in Plassenburg. Certainly, she died in her birthplace, Ansbach, on 4 September 1515, aged fifty-one. She was buried in Heilsbronn.



  1. ^ Gerhard Köbler, Historisches Lexikon der Deutschen Länder: die deutschen Territorien vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart, C.H.Beck, 2007, p. 125.
  2. ^ Karl Friedrich Pauli, Allgemeine preussische Staatsgeschichte, samt aller dazu gehörigen Königreichs, Churfürstenthums, Herzogthümer, Fürstenthümer, Graf- und Herrschaften, aus bewährten Schriftstellern und Urkunden bis auf gegenwärtige Regierung, vol. VII-VIII, C. P. Francken, 1767, p. 575.
  3. ^ Alexander von Daniels, Handbuch der deutschen Reichs- und Staatenrechtsgeschichte, vol. II, Laupp, 1862, p. 260.
Barbara of Brandenburg
Born: 30 May 1464 Died: 4 September 1515
Royal titles
Preceded by
Johana of Rožmitál
Queen consort of Bohemia
Succeeded by
Beatrice of Naples