Ingeborg of Denmark, Queen of France

Last updated

Ingeborg of Denmark
Ingeborg of denmark.jpg
Queen consort of France
Tenure1193 & 1200–1223
Died29 July 1237(1237-07-29) (aged 62–63)
priory of Saint-Jean-de-l’Ile
church of Saint-Jean-de-l’Ile
Spouse Philip II of France
House House of Estridsen
Father Valdemar I of Denmark
Mother Sofia of Minsk
Religion Roman Catholicism
Danish Royalty
House of Estridsen
National Coat of arms of Denmark no crown.svg
Valdemar I the Great
Sophia, Countess of Orlamünde
Canute VI
Maria Valdemarsdatter
Margaret Valdemarsdatter
Valdemar II the Victorious
Ingeborg, Queen of France
Helena, Lady of Lüneburg
Richeza, Queen of Sweden
Illegitimate Children
Christopher, Duke of Schleswig

Ingeborg of Denmark (French : Ingeburge; 1174 – 29 July 1237) was Queen of France by marriage to Philip II of France. She was a daughter of Valdemar I of Denmark and Sofia of Minsk. [1]



Ingeborg was married to Philip II Augustus of France on 15 August 1193 after the death of Philip's first wife Isabelle of Hainaut (d. 1190). Her marriage brought a large dowry from her brother King Canute VI of Denmark. [2] Stephen of Tournai described her as "very kind, young of age but old of wisdom." At the marriage, she was renamed Isambour. On the day after his marriage to Ingeborg, King Philip changed his mind, wished to obtain a separation [3] and attempted to send her back to Denmark. Outraged, Ingeborg fled to a convent in Soissons, from where she protested to Pope Celestine III. [4]

Three months after the wedding, Philip summoned an ecclesiastical council in Compiègne and had it draw a false family tree to show that he and Ingeborg would have been related through Philip's first wife. Contemporary Canon law stated that a man and a woman could not marry if they shared an ancestor within the last seven generations. The council therefore declared the marriage void. [2]

Ingeborg protested again and the Danes sent a delegation to meet Pope Celestine III. They convinced him that the spurious family tree was false but the pope merely declared the annulment invalid and prohibited Philip from marrying again. Philip ignored the Pope's verdict. Ingeborg spent the next 20 years in virtual imprisonment in various French castles. In one stage she spent more than a decade in the castle of Étampes southwest of Paris. Her brother Knud VI and his advisers continually worked against the annulment. Contemporary sources also indicate that many of Philip's advisers in France supported Ingeborg.

Political reasons for this royal marriage are disputed, but Philip probably wanted to gain better relations with Denmark because the countries had been on different sides in the schism of the future succession to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. Possibly he also wanted more allies against the rival Angevin dynasty. As a dowry, he had asked for the support of the Danish fleet for a year and the right to any remaining claims Denmark had to the throne of England. Ingeborg's brother Knud VI agreed only to a dowry of 10.000 silver marks. Marriage had been negotiated through Philip's adviser Bernard of Vincennes and Guillaume, the abbot of the Danish monastery of Æbelholt.

A page from the psalter of Ingeborg of Denmark Psalterofingeborg.jpg
A page from the psalter of Ingeborg of Denmark

Her defence

Pope Celestine defended the Queen, but was able to do little for her. Indeed, Philip asked Pope Celestine III for an annulment on the grounds of non-consummation “per maleficium,” impotence caused by sorcery. [2] (Historians have presented many theories for the alleged lack of consummation from temporary impotence to bouts of sweating sickness). Philip had not reckoned with Ingeborg, however; she insisted that the marriage had been consummated, and that she was his wife and the rightful Queen of France.

The Franco-Danish churchman William of Æbelholt (c. 1127 – 1203) intervened in the case of Philip Augustus who was attempting to repudiate Ingeborg. The genealogy of the Danish kings which William drew up on this occasion to disprove the alleged impediment of consanguinity and two books of his letters, some of which deal with this affair, have come down to us. [5]

Philip married Agnes of Merania in June 1196. However, in 1198 new Pope Innocent III declared that this new marriage was void because the previous marriage was still valid. He ordered Philip to dismiss Agnes and take Ingeborg back. Ingeborg had written to him, stating abuse and isolation and claiming thoughts of suicide because of harsh treatment.

Philip's response was to lock Ingeborg away in the Château d'Étampes in Essonne. Locked up in a tower, Ingeborg was a prisoner. Food was irregular and sometimes insufficient. No one was allowed to visit her, except for one occasion when two Danish chaplains were allowed to visit. [6] Philip, meanwhile, brought Agnes back, and continued to live with her, producing a second child, a son. For these offences, Philip was excommunicated in 1200, and the kingdom was placed under an interdict. [3] When the king did not comply, Pope Innocent III placed France under interdict in 1199 until September 1200 when Philip said he would obey. He later reneged on that promise. Agnes died the following year.

In 1201 Philip asked the Pope to declare his children legitimate and the Pope complied to gain his political support. However, later that year Philip again asked for an annulment, claiming that Ingeborg had tried to bewitch him in the wedding night and thus made him unable to consummate the marriage. So he asked for divorce on the grounds of witchcraft. This attempt failed as well.

Reconciliation and later life

Philip reconciled with Ingeborg in 1213, not out of altruism but because he wished to press his claims to the throne of the Kingdom of England through his ties to the Danish crown. Later, on his deathbed in 1223, he is said to have told his son Louis VIII to treat her well. Later both Louis VIII and Louis IX acknowledged Ingeborg as a legitimate queen. After this time, Ingeborg spent most of her time in a priory of Saint-Jean-de-l’Ile which she had founded. It was close to Corbeil on an island in Essonne. She survived her husband by more than 14 years. Ingeborg of Denmark died in either 1237 or 1238 and was buried in the Church of the Order of St John in Corbeil (Église de l'ordre de Saint-Jean à Corbeil). [7]

See also


Related Research Articles

Agnes of Merania Queen consort of France

Agnes Maria of Andechs-Merania was a Queen of France. She is called Marie by some of the French chroniclers.

Philip II of France King of France from 1180 to 1223

Philip II, known as Philip Augustus, was King of France from 1180 to 1223. His predecessors had been known as kings of the Franks, but from 1190 onward, Philip became the first French monarch to style himself "King of France". The son of King Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne, he was originally nicknamed Dieudonné (God-given) because he was a first son and born late in his father's life. Philip was given the epithet "Augustus" by the chronicler Rigord for having extended the crown lands of France so remarkably.

Eric V of Denmark King of Denmark

Eric V Klipping was King of Denmark (1259–1286) and son of King Christopher I of Denmark. From 1259-1266, he ruled under the auspices of his competent mother, Margaret Sambiria (1230-1282). Between 1261 and 1262, the young King Eric was a prisoner in Holstein following a military defeat. Afterwards, he lived in Brandenburg, where he was initially held captive by John I, Margrave of Brandenburg.

Alice of Champagne was the Queen consort of Cyprus from 1210 to 1218, regent of Cyprus from 1218 to 1223, and of Jerusalem from 1243 to 1246. She was the eldest daughter of Queen Isabella I of Jerusalem and Count Henry II of Champagne. In 1210, Alice married her step-brother King Hugh I of Cyprus, receiving the County of Jaffa as dowry. After her husband's death in 1218, she assumed the regency for their infant son, King Henry I. In time, she began seeking contacts within her father's counties in France to bolster her claim to Champagne and Brie against her cousin, Theobald IV. However, the kings of France never acknowledged her claim.

Agnes of Courtenay Queen consort of Jerusalem

Agnes of Courtenay was Queen of Jerusalem as the wife of King Amalric I of Jerusalem. She was the daughter of Joscelin II of Courtenay by his wife Beatrice of Saone, and the mother of King Baldwin IV and Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem.

Isabella of England 13th-century English princess and Holy Roman Empress

Isabella of England was Holy Roman Empress, Queen of the Germans, and queen consort of Sicily.

Louise of Sweden Queen consort of Denmark

Louise of Sweden, was Queen of Denmark as the spouse of King Frederick VIII. She was the only surviving child of Charles XV of Sweden and his consort, Louise of the Netherlands. She was the mother of both King Christian X of Denmark and King Haakon VII of Norway.

Maria Komnene, Queen of Jerusalem Queen consort of Jerusalem

Maria Komnene or Comnena was the second wife of King Amalric I of Jerusalem and mother of Queen Isabella I of Jerusalem.

Eleanor of Woodstock 14th-century English princess and noblewoman

Eleanor of Woodstock was an English princess and Duchess consort of Guelders by marriage. She was regent of Guelders as the guardian of her minor son from 1343 until 1344.

Joan of England, Queen of Scotland 13th-century English princess and Queen of Scotland

Joan of England, was Queen consort of Scotland from 1221 until her death. She was the third child of John, King of England and Isabella of Angoulême.

Margaret Fredkulla Queen consort of Denmark and Norway

Margaret Fredkulla was a Swedish princess who became successively queen of Norway and Denmark by marriage to kings Magnus III of Norway and Niels of Denmark. She was also de facto regent of Denmark. She is known as Margareta Fredkulla in Sweden, Margret Fredskolla in Norway and Margrete Fredkulla in Denmark. An English exonym is Margaret Colleen-of-Peace.

William of Æbelholt Danish Roman Catholic saint

Saint William of Æbelholt was a French-born churchman of Denmark.

Sophia of Denmark Queen consort of Sweden

Sophia of Denmark was Queen of Sweden as the consort of King Valdemar.

Ingeborg Eriksdotter was a Danish princess. She was married to King Magnus VI of Norway and was Queen consort of Norway. Later as queen dowager, she played an important part in politics during the minority of her son King Eirik II of Norway.

Margaret, Countess of Anjou Countess of Anjou and Maine

Margaret, Countess of Anjou was Countess of Anjou and Maine in her own right and Countess of Valois, Alençon, Chartres and Perche by marriage. Margaret's father was King Charles II of Naples, whilst her husband was Charles of Valois, and her older brother was Saint Louis of Toulouse; her nephew was Charles I of Hungary.

Philip of Dreux Bishop of Beauvais

Philip of Dreux was a French nobleman, Bishop of Beauvais, and figure of the Third Crusade.

Helvig of Schleswig Queen consort of Denmark

Helvig of Schleswig, was a Danish Queen consort, spouse of King Valdemar IV of Denmark. She was the mother of Queen Margaret I of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Marie of France, Duchess of Brabant Duchess of Brabant

Marie of France was a daughter of Philip II of France and his disputed third wife Agnes of Merania. She was a member of the House of Capet.

Matilda I, Countess of Nevers or Mathilde de Courtenay, or Mahaut de Courtenay, (1188–1257), was a ruling countess of Nevers, Auxerre and Tonnerre. She was the only daughter of Peter II of Courtenay and of Agnes of Nevers, born from the Capetian House of Courtenay, she was married to Hervé IV of Donzy and then to Guigues IV of Forez.

Agnes of Périgord was Duchess consort of Durazzo, through her marriage to John of Gravina, Duke of Durazzo, who was also the ruler of the Kingdom of Albania. Although Agnes was never styled as Queen consort, she became politically influential. Following the death of Robert, King of Naples in 1343, she organised a marriage for her eldest son to Robert's granddaughter, who was second-in-line to the Neapolitan throne. Agnes's ambition was to bring her family closer to the line of succession.


  1. "Ingeborg: Prinsesse af Danmark og dronning af Frankrig". Danmarks Historien. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 ""Ingeborg of Denmark, queen of France", Epistolae, Columbia University". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
  3. 1 2 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ingeborg"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 14 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 563.
  4. "Ingeborg, Dronning af Frankrig, o.1175-o.1237". Dansk biografisk Lexikon. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  5. "St. William of Ebelholt". Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  6. Le Château (Léon Guibourgé, Étampes, ville royale, 1957, pp. 227-230)
  7. "Ancienne chapelle de la commanderie de Saint-Jean-en-l'Ile". Observatoire du Patrimoine Religieux. Retrieved 1 August 2018.

Other Sources

French royalty
Preceded by
Isabelle of Hainaut
Queen consort of France
Succeeded by
Agnes of Merania
Preceded by
Agnes of Merania
Queen consort of France
Succeeded by
Blanche of Castile