Maria of Jülich-Berg

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Maria of Jülich-Berg
Duchess of Jülich-Berg
Stained glass depiction of Maria
Born3 August 1491
Jülich, Kreis Düren, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Died29 August 1543 (aged 52)
Büderich, Kreis Wesel, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Noble family
(m. 1509; died 1539)
In detail
FatherWilliam IV, Duke of Jülich-Berg
MotherSibylle of Brandenburg

Maria of Jülich-Berg (3 August 1491 – 29 August 1543) was the Duchess of Jülich-Berg, as the daughter of Wilhelm IV, Duke of Jülich-Berg and Sibylle of Brandenburg.[1] She became heiress to her father’s estates of Jülich, Berg and Ravensberg after it had become apparent that her parents’ marriage would not produce any more children. In 1509, Maria married John III, Duke of Cleves. Their daughter, Anna, became the consort of King Henry VIII of England.

Early life[edit]

Duchess Maria was born on 3 August 1491 in Jülich, Germany, as the only child of Duke Wilhelm IV and Duchess Sibylle, the daughter of Albert III Achilles, Elector of Brandenburg, and his wife Anna of Saxony, daughter of the Elector Frederick II of Saxony from his marriage to Margaret of Austria. Maria came from the line of German princesses that stretched back to Sybille of Brandenberg, Sophia of Saxony, and Adelaide of Teck.

In 1496, at the age of 5, Duchess Maria was betrothed to the 6-year-old Duke of Cleves, John.[1][2]


They married in 1509. Maria's estates and titles were then merged with the Duchy of Cleves. The marriage resulted in the Cleves Union, in which the Duchies of Jülich-Berg-Ravensberg and Cleves-Mark were combined to form the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg.

When her father died in 1511 Maria, being female, could not inherit, and Jülich-Berg-Ravensberg fell to her husband John III through her. At the request of Maria and John II, who resided in Cleves, Maria's mother Sibylle acted as governor of Jülich-Berg during this period.[3] John, who inherited the Duchy of Cleves-Mark in 1521, then became the first ruler of the United Duchies of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, which would exist until 1666.

Maria was a traditional Catholic who gave her daughters a practical education on how to run a noble household, which was the norm for German noblewomen during the time period.[4] This differed from the education typically given to daughters of the English nobility and gentry.[5] In The Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser suggests that, following their marriage, one reason Henry VIII disliked her daughter Anne so much was that, unlike his first two wives and many of the court ladies around him, Anne did not possess educational and musical accomplishments and was ill-equipped to function in the contentious English court.[6] Duchess Maria herself appears not to have favored sending her daughter to England. She wrote in a later correspondence she loved her daughter so much that she was 'loath to suffer her to depart her'.[6]


Maria died on 29 August 1543 of unspecified causes.



Maria, and her husband John III had three daughters and a son between 1512, and 1517. They were:

Children of Maria of Jülich-Berg
Name Portrait Lifespan Notes
electress consort of Saxony.
17 January 1512 –
21 February 1554
Married John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, the eldest son of Elector John by his first wife, Sophie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Had issue.
Queen of England.
28 June or 22 September 1515 –
16 July 1557
Married Henry VIII of England. The marriage wasn't consummated, and was annulled six months later.
Duke of Jülich-Cleves-Berg.
28 July 1516 –
5 January 1592
Married twice;

Firstly to Jeanne d'Albret, heiress of Navarre as the daughter of King Henry II of Navarre and his wife Margaret of Valois-Angoulême, but this political marriage was later annulled by papal dispensation on 1545. Secondly to Maria of Austria, daughter of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor,[7] and Anna of Bohemia and Hungary, and had issue.

princess of the House of La Marck.
17 October 1517 –
1 March 1586
Never married, and died without issue.



  1. ^ a b Ward, Prothero & Leathes 1934, p. table 38.
  2. ^ Darsie, Heather R. (2020-02-06). "Death of Johann III of Cleves and Ascension of Wilhelm V: Anna of Cleves' Future Changes". Maidens and Manuscripts: Taking a fresh look at people and events from 1347 to 1625, with a focus on women and illuminated manuscripts. Retrieved 2022-07-08.
  3. ^ Johann F. Knapp: Regenten- und Volks-Geschichte der Länder Cleve, Mark, Jülich, Berg und Ravensberg , Becker, 1836, p. 512
  4. ^ Darsie, Heather (April 2019). Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King's 'Beloved Sister'. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445677101.
  5. ^ Darsie, Heather (April 2019). Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King's 'Beloved Sister'. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445677101.
  6. ^ a b Antonia Fraser, The Wives of Henry VIII (Vintage Books, 1993), Chapter: Anne of Cleves
  7. ^ Bietenholz & Deutscher 2003, p. 316.


  • Bietenholz, Peter G.; Deutscher, Thomas Brian, eds. (2003). Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation. Vol. 1–3. University of Toronto Press.
  • Ward, A.W.; Prothero, G.W.; Leathes, Stanley, eds. (1934). The Cambridge Modern History. Vol. XIII. Cambridge at the University Press.