Sophia of Minsk

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Sophia of Minsk
Queen consort of Danmark
Tenure 1157–1182
Born 1138/41
Died 5 May 1198
Burial St. Bendt's Church
Spouse Valdemar I of Denmark
Louis III, Landgrave of Thuringia
among others...
Sophia, Countess of Orlamünde
King Canute VI of Denmark
King Valdemar II of Denmark
Ingeborg, Queen of France
Helena, Duchess of Lüneburg
Richeza, Queen of Sweden
Dynasty Rurikid?
Father Volodar of Minsk?
Mother Richeza of Poland
Religion Roman Catholicism
Plaster cast of her skull

Sophia of Minsk or Sophia of Polotsk (c. 1140 – 5 May 1198) was a Danish queen consort by marriage to King Valdemar I of Denmark, and a landgravine of Thuringia by marriage to Louis III, Landgrave of Thuringia.



Sophia was the daughter of Richeza of Poland, Dowager Queen of Sweden, from her second marriage to a man called "Valador" King in Poloni Land.

Several speculations have been put forward as to exactly who her father was, but his identity is still uncertain. It is guessed[who?] to have been Prince Volodar of Minsk or Prince Vladimir of Halicz. Most probably it was Volodar (Valadar in Belarusian) of Minsk, who united the principalities of Minsk, Polotsk, and Hrodna under his rule, and had military interests in the Baltic region (for example, his military campaign in Northern Poland in 1159).[citation needed]


Sophia spent a part of her childhood in Denmark, where her mother had been married to a Danish prince in her first marriage, and returned with her daughter when her second marriage was terminated. Sophia was the half sister of Canute V of Denmark, the son of her mother by her first marriage: after her half brother became king of Denmark in 1146, her mother returned to Denmark with her daughter Sophia, who thus spent part of her childhood in Denmark at the court of her half brother the king.

In circa 1149, her mother married Sverker I of Sweden, in her third marriage. She took her daughter with her to Sweden, where Sophia subsequently spent the rest of her childhood at the Swedish royal court.


In 1154, at the age of circa fourteen, Sophia was betrothed to Valdemar as a symbol of alliance between Sweden and Denmark: she was at this time described as a pretty girl with promise of becoming a beauty.[1] In the marriage contract, she was secured an eight of her half brother king Canute V:s estates in Denmark.[2]

Sophia departed Sweden for Denmark after the conclusion of the engagement in 1154, but as she was not yet regarded old enough to marry by Nordic standards, she was sent to reside with a foster mother named Bodil until she was considered old enough to live with Valdemar.[3]

The wedding between Sophia and Valdemar was conducted in Viborg in 1157, three years later.

Queen Sophia was described as beautiful, dominant and cruel. According to traditional myth, she murdered Valdemar's mistress Tove and injured his sister Kirsten, but this is not confirmed.[4]

She was widowed in 1182.

Later life[edit]

As queen dowager, Sophia received a proposal from, and married, Louis III, Landgrave of Thuringia in about 1184, and was escorted to the border by her son and a grand entourage.

She was repudiated in 1190, and returned to Denmark.


Sophia had the following children with Valdemar I of Denmark:


External links[edit]

Sophia of Minsk
Born: circa 1140 Died: 5 May 1198
Danish royalty
Preceded by
Helena of Sweden
Queen consort of Denmark
Succeeded by
Gertrude of Bavaria