Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut

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Jacoba van Beieren door Hollandse school ca 1600.jpg
Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland
Reign 30 May 1417 – 12 April 1433
Predecessor William IV and VI
Successor Philip the Good
Spouse John, Dauphin of France
m. 1415; dec. 1417
John IV, Duke of Brabant
m. 1418; ann. 1422[1]
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester
m. 1423; ann. 1428[1]
Frank van Borssele
m. 1434; wid. 1436
House House of Wittelsbach
Father William II, Duke of Bavaria
Mother Margaret of Burgundy
Born (1401-08-16)16 August 1401
Castle of Le Quesnoy, Hainaut
Died 8 October 1436(1436-10-08) (aged 35)
Teylingen Castle, near Leiden
Burial The Hague, Holland

Jacqueline (Dutch: Jacoba van Beieren; French: Jacqueline de Bavière; 16 August 1401 – 8 October 1436) was Duchess of Bavaria-Straubing, Countess of Holland and Zeeland and Countess of Hainaut from 1417 to 1433. She was also Dauphine of France for a short time between 1415 and 1417 and Duchess of Gloucester in the 1420s, if her marriage to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, is accepted as valid.

Jacqueline was the last Wittelsbach ruler of Hainaut and Holland. Following her death, her estates passed into the inheritance of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy.


Early life. Marriage to the Duke of Touraine[edit]

Born in the Castle of Le Quesnoy in Hainaut, Jacqueline, from her birth, was referred to as "of Holland", indicating that she was the heiress of her father's estates. She was the only daughter of William II, Duke of Bavaria (also known as William VI, Count of Holland) from his marriage with Margaret of Burgundy, daughter of Margaret III of Flanders and Philip the Bold. At the age of only 22 months (in Paris on 5 May 1403) and again at the age of five (in Compiègne on 29 June 1406), Jacqueline was betrothed to John, Duke of Touraine, fourth son of King Charles VI of France and Queen Isabeau of Bavaria. Both children were brought up in the Castle of Le Quesnoy, Jacqueline's birthplace. The boy had been given into tutelage of his father-in-law, since he was expected to succeed as ruler in Hainaut and not in any way in France itself.[2] On 22 April 1411 the Pope gave his dispensation for the union and on 6 August 1415, when Jacqueline was fourteen, she and John married in The Hague.[3]

On 15 December 1415 John's elder brother Louis, the Dauphin of France, died, and John became the new Dauphin and heir to the throne. But John died on 4 April 1417. Two months later, on 31 May, Jacqueline also lost her father.

War with John III[edit]

After her father's death, Jacqueline was acknowledged as sovereign in Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut. However, her uncle, John III, duke of Bavaria-Straubing and bishop of Liège, also claimed Holland and Zeeland as his rightful inheritance. This reignited the civil war between the Hooks and the Cods anew. While Jacqueline was backed by the Hook party, the Cods turned towards her uncle.

Second Marriage[edit]

Jacqueline's position was too weak for her to hold on her own and therefore she remarried. In 1418, her uncle and guardian, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, arranged a marriage to her cousin, John IV, Duke of Brabant and Limbourg. However, John IV proved to be a weak political leader and he gave John III full custody over Holland and Zeeland for 12 years in 1420.[4] After this waste of her inheritance, Jacqueline and her allies decided to dissolve the marriage. They claimed it was never valid as they were too closely related and she secretly left for England at the invitation of Henry V.[5] She was an honoured guest at the court of England, and when the future Henry VI was born, Jacqueline was made one of his godparents.[6]

Marriage to the Duke of Gloucester and its aftermath[edit]

It was only after the unexpected death of Henry V in 1422 that Jacqueline obtained a dubious divorce from John of Brabant valid in England that allowed a marriage to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.[7] However, as not all rules were observed, the marriage was arranged in haste and in secret in the town of Hadleigh, Essex, sometime before 7 March 1423.

Jacqueline hoped that Humphrey would restore her to her counties but, being regent in England, he was occupied with affairs of state. Humphrey came to Hainaut, where he was acknowledged as the legitimate count, but had to leave before being able to do something about Holland and Zeeland, which denied his rights. He had to return to England, leaving Jacqueline behind in Hainaut. Philip the Good, the new duke of Burgundy, backed her (ex)husband John IV, and in 1425 she had to surrender to him and was imprisoned in Ghent.

War in Holland[edit]

Jacqueline, Countess of Holland and Zeeland, ca. 1435.

Her situation changed when her uncle John III of Bavaria died on 6 January 1425, the victim of poisoning. John IV, Duke of Brabant, still claimed rights over Holland, Zeeland and Hainault and made Philip, Duke of Burgundy, regent of Holland and Zeeland, like he had done before with John III.

Jacqueline escaped her imprisonment in Ghent disguised in men's clothes and fled to Schoonhoven and later to Gouda, where she stayed with the leaders of the Hook faction. Now it was her former husband, John of Brabant, who tried to dispute her inheritance. In this matter, Humphrey did intervene, albeit with limited force, with disastrous consequences for the English-Burgundian alliance that aided the English cause in France during the Hundred Years' War. Pope Martin V decreed that Jacqueline was still the wife of John IV, Duke of Brabant, and therefore her marriage to Humphrey of Gloucester was illegitimate.[8] However, John IV had died a year earlier.

Peace and the loss of her lands[edit]

On 3 July 1428 Jacqueline had to agree to a peace treaty, Reconciliation of Delft (de Zoen van Delft), with the duke of Burgundy. By this treaty, Jacqueline kept her titles of Countess of Holland, Zeeland and Hainaut, but the administration of her territories was placed in the hands of Philip, who was also appointed as her heir in case she died without children. She was not allowed to marry without the permission of her mother, Philip and the three counties. However, her financial situation was dire. She barely had enough income to support her household. Furthermore, the duke of Burgundy did not stop after the peace treaty in 1428. He bought the loyalty of her allies or enstranged them from her in another way.[9] At Easter 1433, Jacqueline "voluntarily" gave Philip all her lands and titles. In return she was allowed the income of several estates, mostly situated in Zeeland.[10]

Fourth marriage and final days[edit]

With the renunctiation of her titles, Jacqueline retired to her land in Zeeland. There, she and Francis, Lord of Borssele ("Frank van Borssele"), a local and powerful nobleman, became close. In the spring of 1434 they married and Philip granted Frank the title of Count of Oostervant.[11] This marriage, contrary to the other three, was one out of love, at least for Jacqueline.[12] It did not last long. In 1436 she became ill and after a few months of illness she died of tuberculosis[13] in Teylingen Castle on 8 October 1436. Since she had no children, Philip of Burgundy inherited Hainaut and Holland. Her husband Frank survived her for thirty-four years.


There are many legends surrounding the life of Jacqueline. The most prevalent one is her supposed secret marriage to Francis of Borssele in 1432, two years prior to their public and official wedding. This secret marriage was supposed to be the real reason why she had to give up her titles and give them to the duke of Burgundy as it would violate the regulations in the peace treaty of 1428. However, there is no evidence that such a secret marriage has ever taken place and contemporary sources only mention the rumours of an upcoming wedding between Jacqueline and Francis at the end of 1433, half a year after Jacqueline renounced her titles.[14]



  1. ^ a b see text
  2. ^ A. Janse, Een pion voor een dame, p. 54–56
  3. ^ A. Janse, p. 81–84
  4. ^ A. Janse, p. 179
  5. ^ A. Janse, p. 192–195
  6. ^ A. Janse, p. 200
  7. ^ Alfred H.Burne, "The Hundred Years War," (1st ed., 1955; Folio soc., 2005), 371
  8. ^ A. Janse, p. 279–280
  9. ^ A. Janse, p. 312–316
  10. ^ For a complete list see: A. Janse, p. 316
  11. ^ A. Janse, p. 326
  12. ^ A. Janse, p. 326, Graven van Holland, p. 143
  13. ^ A. Janse, p. 329 – 331
  14. ^ Graven van Holland, p. 141–143; for a full argumentation against this legend see: A. Janse, p. 288–326,


  • Antheun JANSE, Een pion voor een dame. Jacoba van Beieren (1401–1436), Amsterdam, Uitgeverij Balans, 2009, 400 p. (ISBN 978-94-6003-185-4).
  • D.E.H. de Boer, E.H.P. Cordfunke. "Jacoba van Beieren (1417–1428) en Jan 'Zonder Genade' van Beieren (1418–1425)", In: Graven van Holland, Middeleeuwse Vorsten in Woord en Beeld (880-1580), 2010, p. 135–145
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut
Born: 1401 Died: 1436
Regnal titles
Preceded by
William VI
Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland
Succeeded by
Philip the Good