Gertrude of Merania

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Gertrude of Merania
Andreas Getrude Ungarn.jpg
Gertrude and her husband Andrew, Landgrafenpsalter, Thuringia, c. 1213
Queen consort of Hungary[1]
Tenure 1205–1213
Spouse Andrew II of Hungary
Issue Anna Maria, Empress of Bulgaria
Béla IV of Hungary
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Coloman of Lodomeria
Andrew II of Halych
House House of Andechs
Father Berthold IV, Duke of Merania
Mother Agnes of Rochlitz
Born c. 1185
Died 28 September 1213 (aged 27–28)

Gertrude of Merania (1185 – 28 September 1213) was the first wife of King Andrew II of Hungary and thereby Queen consort of Hungary from 1205 until her assassination. She was regent in Hungary during the absence of her spouse.

Family[edit]

Berthold IV of Andechs and his wife Agnes among their children

She was the daughter of the Bavarian Count Berthold IV of Andechs, who had been elevated to a Duke of Merania by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and his wife Agnes from the Saxon House of Wettin. Gertrude's elder sister was Agnes of Merania, a famous beauty, who married King Philip II of France. Her younger sister was St. Hedwig of Silesia, wife of the Piast duke Henry I the Bearded, the later High Duke of Poland. Their brother was Otto, who succeeded his father as Duke of Merania.

Gertrude's mother, Agnes of Wettin was a granddaughter of Margrave Conrad of Meissen and a great-great granddaughter of the Hohenstaufen duke Frederick I of Swabia and his wife Agnes of Germany.,[2] herself a daughter of Emperor Henry IV and Bertha of Savoy.

Gertude's paternal grandparents were Count Berthold III of Andechs, Margrave of Istria and his wife Hedwig from the House of Wittelsbach at Scheyern, a descendant of King Béla I of Hungary, through his daughter, Sophia of Hungary.

Marriage[edit]

Her parents wanted their daughters to all make important political marriages, which would create alliances for Duke Berthold IV. Gertrude married the Árpád prince Andrew II, younger son of late King Béla III of Hungary, before 1203. Andrew thereby took sides in the conflict over the German throne, joining his father-in-law in his support of Duke Philip of Swabia, while his elder brother King Emeric of Hungary backed King Otto IV of Germany. The couple had five children:

Ambitious Gertrude exerted much political influence over her husband. It was probably she who persuaded Andrew to conspire against his brother again, but when King Emeric, who had realised that Andrew's troops outnumbered his armies, went unarmed, wearing only the crown and the sceptre, to Andrew's camp near Varasd, Andrew surrendered voluntarily on the spur of the scene. The king had his brother arrested, but Andrew managed to escape shortly afterwards. During this time, Gertrude was sent back to her father. Things improved for her, when Prince Andrew took over the government of the Hungarian kingdom upon the death of King Emeric in 1204, officially as regent for his minor nephew Ladislaus III, who nevertheless died driven in exile one year later.

Murder[edit]

Gertrude was killed in 1213, by Hungarian noblemen (magnates), who were jealous over the advancement of her German relatives at court. The terms Nobilissimus (most noble) and nobilissima familia (most noble family) have been used since the 11th century for the King of Hungary and his family, but it were then only a few, among them also Gertrude, which were mentioned in official documents as such.

While the king was in battle, Gertrude gave out Hungarian land as "gifts" to her favorites. According to medieval chroniclers, one third of the country was given away but the magnates got it back after the queen's death. Thus, Hungary did not prosper. During the frequent absence of her husband, the queen was regent and, as Dietrich von Apolda states, conducted the affairs of the kingdom "like a man". In 1206 her younger brother Berthold was installed as Archbishop of Kalocsa, in 1212 he was also appointed Voivode of Transylvania.

While King Andrew was campaigning in Galicia, the Hungarian nobles, led by Peter, son of Töre decided to get rid of the queen and in 1213 on a hunt with Berthold and their guest Duke Leopold VI of Austria in the Pilis Mountains, she was killed. Gertrude's body was torn to pieces, her brother and Duke Leopold narrowly escaped with their lives. Due to the current political situation most of her murderers remained unpunished during the rule of Andrew II. Only Gertrude's son King Béla IV took revenge after his accession to the throne.

Gertrude's tomb was of a Gothic style. Her tomb was excavated between 1967 and 1980.[3]

On Gertrude's death, Andrew married Yolanda de Courtenay.

In Media[edit]

She is the main character in Ferenc Erkel's opera, Bánk bán. It is based on a true fact: Lord Bánk, a nobleman went to battle with the king. His young wife stayed at home. Gertrude's brother fell in love with the young woman but she was afraid of him. Gertude encouraged her brother. When Lord Bánk heard of this, he was very angry and he was leader of the group of men that killed the queen. Her brother fled for his life.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Magyar Életrajzi Lexikon". Mek.niif.hu. Retrieved 2013-01-04. 
  2. ^ "Ancestors of Gertrud von Andechs (Sainte Gertrude)". Roglo.eu. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  3. ^ "Translation from German Wikipedia, with further sources". Translate.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
Gertrude of Merania
Born: 1185 Died: 1213
Royal titles
Preceded by
Constance of Aragon
Queen consort of Hungary
1205–1213
Succeeded by
Yolanda de Courtenay