Ermesinde, Countess of Luxembourg

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Countess Ermesinde I
Ermesinda.jpg
Countess of Luxembourg
Reign1197 – 12 February 1247
Predecessor Count Otto I, Count of Burgundy
Successor Count Henri V
BornJuly 1186
Died12 February 1247 (aged 6061)
Burial
Spouse Count Theobald I, Count of Bar
(m. 1197 - 1214; his death)
Waleran III, Duke of Limburg
(m. 1214 - 1226; his death)
Issue
House Luxembourg-Namur
Father Count Henri IV, Count of Luxembourg
MotherAgnes of Guelders

Ermesinde I (1186 – 12 February 1247), reigned as Countess of Luxembourg from 1197 until her death in 1247.

Contents

She was the only child of Count Henry IV and his second wife, Agnes of Guelders.

Henry IV, Count of Luxembourg Count of Luxembourg and Count of Namur

Henry IV, called the Blind, was count of Luxembourg from 1136 until his death and count of Namur from 1139 until his abdication in 1189. He was the son of Godfrey I, Count of Namur and Ermesinde, a daughter of Conrad I of Luxembourg.

Life

Prior to her birth, her aging father Henry had recognized his nephew, Count Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut as his heir presumptive. However, the 72-year-old count fathered a daughter, Ermesinde, who displaced Baldwin as heir presumptive.

Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut Margrave of Namur, Count of Hainaut and Flanders

Baldwin V of Hainaut was count of Hainaut (1171–1195), margrave of Namur as Baldwin I (1189–1195) and count of Flanders as Baldwin VIII (1191–1195).

Upon Henry's death in 1197, a war of succession inevitably took place. At its end, it was decided that Count Henry's fiefs would be split: Baldwin would have Namur, Ermesinde would have Durbuy and La Roche, and Luxembourg would revert to their common liege, the Holy Roman Emperor. Emperor Henry VI then gave the fief to his brother Otto I, Count of Burgundy.

Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor German noble

Henry VI, a member of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, was King of Germany from 1190 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1191 until his death. From 1194 he was also King of Sicily.

Otto I, Count of Burgundy Count of Burgundy

Otto I was Count of Burgundy from 1190 to his death and briefly Count of Luxembourg from 1196 to 1197. He was the fourth son of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor by his second wife Beatrice I, Countess of Burgundy, daughter of Count Renaud III.

Ermesinde was initially betrothed to Henry II of Champagne, but the engagement was cancelled in 1189. Instead her first husband was Theobald I of Bar. [1] He successfully negotiated with Philip of Namur and his brother Baldwin for renunciation of Luxembourg, thus making Theobald and Ermesinde the Count and Countess of Luxembourg. [2]

Baldwin I, Latin Emperor Latin Emperor of Constantinople

Baldwin I was the first emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople. As Count of Flanders and Hainaut, he was one of the most prominent leaders of the Fourth Crusade, which resulted in the sack of Constantinople and the conquest of large parts of the Byzantine Empire, and the foundation of the Latin Empire. He lost his final battle to Kaloyan, the emperor of Bulgaria, and spent his last days as his prisoner.

When Theobald died in 1214, Ermesinde married Waleran III, Count of Limburg (1180–1226), who would rule as the Count of Luxembourg. [1] In 1223 Ermesinde and Waleran pressed their claim to Namur against Margrave Philip II, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Waleran III, Duke of Limburg Duke of Limburg and Count of Arlon

Waleran III was initially lord of Montjoie, then count of Luxembourg from 1214. He became count of Arlon and duke of Limburg on his father's death in 1221. He was the son of Henry III of Limburg and Sophia of Saarbrücken.

County of Namur countship

Namur was a county of the Carolingian and later Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries. Its territories largely correspond with the present-day Belgian arrondissement Namur plus the northwestern part of the arrondissement Dinant, both part of the modern province of Namur, and previously part of the French Republican department of Sambre-et-Meuse.

Ermesinde granting charters of freedom to the city of Echternach Ermesinde granting privileges to Echternach.jpg
Ermesinde granting charters of freedom to the city of Echternach

After Waleran's death, Ermesinde ruled Luxembourg alone for two decades. She proved to be an effective administrator, granting charters of freedom to several towns and increasing the prosperity of her country.

Grave

Legend has it that the Countess was one day walking in the area around her castle, near Eischen. There she saw a woman coming down from a hill, who had in her arms a child that was wrapped in sheepskin, on which was a black cross.

The Countess was convinced that this was the Virgin Mary, and therefore planned the construction on this spot of the abbey that would later become the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Clairefontaine. [1] In her will she asked that she be buried at this location. The Abbey of Clairefontaine was in fact only built by her son, Henry V. [3] After many years, the abbey was destroyed in the late 18th century by French troops.

The Jesuits then reconstructed a part of it from 1875 to 1877, including the old chapel. During these works, the Jesuit Martin Paul on 11 May 1875 found a gravestone, along with human remains. Next to the skeleton was a plaque with the inscription: "Voici les precious ossements de la très Illustre et Pieuse Princesse Ermesinde, Comtesse Souveraine de Luxembourg et de Namur. Notre heureuse fondatrice que Dieu Glorifie et sans fin Bénisse" (Here lie the precious remains of the very Illustrious and Pious Princess Ermesinde, Sovereign Countess of Luxembourg and Namur. Our founder whom God Glorifies and forever Blesses") In 1747, shortly before the old abbey was destroyed by the French, the nuns had hidden Ermesinde's remains here.

Currently, the remains are in the crypt of the chapel of Clairefontaine.

Children

The children of Ermesinde and her first husband, Theobald I of Bar, were:

The children of Ermesinde and Waleran III, Count of Limburg were:

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Henry V, Count of Luxembourg Count of Luxembourg

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 P. Péporté, Historiography, Collective Memory and Nation-Building in Luxembourg, (Brill, 2011), 109-110.  via Brill (subscription required)
  2. John A. Gade, Luxemburg in the Middle Ages, (Brill, 1951), 74-75.
  3. P. Péporté, Historiography, Collective Memory and Nation-Building in Luxembourg, 115.
Ermesinde, Countess of Luxembourg
Born: 1186 Died: 12 February 1247
Preceded by
Otto
Countess of Luxembourg
1197–1247
Succeeded by
Henry V