Beatrice of Swabia

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Beatrice of Swabia
Wgt Stifterbüchlein 39v.jpg
Portrait in the Weingarten Stifterbüchlein (c. 1500)
Holy Roman Empress
Tenure 22 July 1212 – 11 August 1212
Predecessor Constance of Sicily
Successor Maria of Brabant
German Queen
Tenure 22 July 1212 – 11 August 1212
Predecessor Irene Angelina
Successor Maria of Brabant
Born April or June 1198
Worms, Franconia
Died (1212-08-11)11 August 1212 (aged 14)
Nordhausen, Thuringia
Burial Brunswick Cathedral
Spouse Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor
House Hohenstaufen
Father Philip of Swabia
Mother Irene Angelina

Beatrice or Beatrix of Swabia (April/June 1198 – 11 August 1212), a member of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, was Holy Roman Empress and German Queen in 1212 as the first wife of the Welf emperor Otto IV.[1] She was also the shortest-serving Holy Roman Empress, dying three weeks into her marriage.


Born at Worms in Rhenish Franconia in April or June 1198, Beatrice was the eldest daughter and first child of Duke Philip of Swabia, who during the time of her birth was elected German king (King of the Romans or Rex Francorum according to Salic law), and his wife, the Byzantine princess Irene Angelina. After her father Philip, a younger brother of late Emperor Henry VI, had been elected king on 8 March 1198, her future husband Otto of Brunswick was elected Anti-king of Germany on June 9.

Struggles for betrothal[edit]

Already in 1203, King Philip attempted to betroth Beatrice to the nephew of Pope Innocent III, in order to gain the support of the Roman Curia. However, his plans failed and the rivals continued to fight. In 1207 Philip made an attempt to reconcile with Otto by offering him the hands of his daughter. Though Otto's strategic position had become unfavourable, he did not accept until Philip on June 21 was killed by the Bavarian count palatine Otto VIII of Wittelsbach. Otto of Wittelsbach, who had to dissolve his former engagement with Philip's daughter Kunigunde, had asked for the hand of either Beatrice or one of her three younger sisters in compensation. His request had been denied and he reacted violently. Beatrice was orphaned, when her mother Irene, renamed Maria, fled to Hohenstaufen Castle and died there on August 27 after delivering her youngest child.

Otto IV, suspected of being involved in the assassination, had by this point lost the support of his two main allies, Pope Innocent III and King John of England. He had been forced to retire to his hereditary lands near Brunswick in Saxony. However, the murder of Philip left him the only King of Germany. He took advantage to make amends with the remaining members and supporters of the House of Hohenstaufen and finally accepted late Philip's offer. Their new alliance was sealed with the betrothal of Beatrice to Otto IV.

On 11 November 1208, Otto IV was again elected King of Germany in Frankfurt. This time he was supported by members of both sides of the previous civil war. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Innocent III on 4 October 1209. Beatrice was only eleven years old and remained betrothed to Otto IV, approximately thirty-four years old.

Marriage and death[edit]

As the bride was related to the Welf dynasty by her great-grandmother Judith of Bavaria, a papal consent had to be obtained, granted by Pope Innocent III in return for donations to the Cistercian abbeys of Walkenried and Riddagshausen. They were married in Nordhausen on 22 July 1212. The bride then was fourteen years old and the groom about thirty-seven.

The marriage with the granddaughter of late Emperor Frederick Barbarossa helped to reinforce Otto's position after Philip's nephew Frederick II, Beatrice's cousin, had been elected anti-king a year before. However, Beatrice soon fell sick and died only nineteen days after the marriage. She was childless at the time of her death.

Beatrice was buried in Brunswick Cathedral. A few weeks later, Frederick II arrived in Germany and on December 9 was crowned king in Mainz Cathedral. Otto IV retired six years later in retirement at Harzburg Castle.


  1. ^ Anne Commire (8 October 1999). Women in World History. Gale. p. 309. ISBN 978-0-7876-4061-3. Retrieved 8 June 2017. 


External links[edit]

Beatrice of Swabia
Preceded by
Constance of Sicily
Empress consort of
the Holy Roman Empire

22 July 1212 – 11 August 1212
Succeeded by
Marie of Brabant
Preceded by
Irene Angelina
Queen consort of Germany
22 July 1212 – 11 August 1212
Succeeded by
Marie of Brabant