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Judith of Swabia

Judith of Swabia

Hungarian queen
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Hungarian queen
Gender female
Birth April 9, 1054 (Goslar)
Death March 14, 1105
Mother: Agnes of Poitou
Father: Henry IIIHoly Roman Emperor
Siblings: Henry IVHoly Roman EmperorConrad IIDuke of BavariaBeatrice IAbbess of QuedlinburgMatilda of SwabiaAdelheid II van Franken
Spouse: Władysław I HermanSolomonKing of Hungary
Children: Agnes IAbbess of Quedlinburg
The details

Judith Maria of Swabia (b. Summer 1054 – d. 14 March ca. 1105?). was a German princess member of the Salian dynasty and by her two marriages Queen of Hungary during 1063–1074 and Duchess of Poland (under the name Sophia) during 1089-1102.
Born probably in Goslar, she was the daughter of Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor by his second wife Agnes, daughter of William V, Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou.



Judith (also named Maria in some sources) was the youngest of the six children born to Emperor Henry III and Empress Agnes. Her older five siblings were: Adelaide (later Abbess of Quedlinburg), Gisela (who died in infancy before Judith's birth), Matilda (later wife of Rudolf of Rheinfelden, Duke of Swabia and Antiking), Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Conrad II, Duke of Bavaria (who also died in infancy). In addition, Judith had an older half-sister, Beatrix I, Abbess of Quedlinburg and Gandersheim, born from her father's first marriage with Gunhilda of Denmark.

Queen of Hungary

Soon after her birth on 9 April 1054, Judith was betrothed to Philip, eldest son and heir of King Henry I of France. However, the engagement was broken in September 1058, when her brother Emperor Henry IV concluded a peace treaty with Andrew I, King of Hungary; as a part of the alliance, she was engaged to the Hungarian King's son and heir, Solomon. When King Andrew I died in 1060, his widow and sons took refuge in the German court. With the support of his powerful brother-in-law, Solomon could recover the Hungarian throne after the death of his uncle Béla I in 1063 and soon after married with Judith in Székesfehérvár.

The marriage proved to be unsuccessful, and apparently both the King and Queen had love affairs. Although it is generally believed that the union was childless, some sources state that Solomon and Judith had a daughter, Sophia, who later married Poppo, Count of Berg-Schelklingen. If this parentage is correct, Judith was the great-grandmother of Salomea of Berg, second wife of Bolesław III Wrymouth (her later stepson).

During the 1070s, a struggle for power commenced between King Solomon and his cousins (sons of the late Béla I). On 14 March 1074 at the Battle of Mogyoród, the King's forces were decisively defeated by his cousins and their allies, the Dukes of Poland and Bohemia. Judith fled to Germany while Solomon continue his fight for the Hungarian throne; in 1077 he accepted the rule of his cousin King László I, who gave him in exchange extensive landholdings after his formal abdication (1081). Despite this, Solomon never gave up his pretensions and began to plot against King László I; however, his plans were discovered and he was imprisoned by the King in the Tower of Visegrád until 15 August 1083, when on the occasion of the canonization of István I, the first King of Hungary, Solomon was released.

In the meantime, Judith remained in Germany and settled in her residence in Regensburg (with short breaks) from May or July 1074 until 1088. After his release, Solomon went to Germany and tried to reunite with his wife, but she refused to receive him. After a long wandering, Solomon made an alliance with Kuteshk, the leader of a Pecheneg tribe settled in the later principality of Moldavia. Between 1084-1085 he married his daughter, committing bigamy with this act.

Solomon promised to hand over parts of the kingdom of Hungary in exchange for his new father-in-law's military assistance. In 1085, Solomon led the Pecheneg troops against Hungary, but King László I defeated them. Two years later, in 1087, Solomon took part in the Pechenegs' campaign against the Byzantine Empire and was killed in a battle near Hadrianopolis.

Duchess of Poland

In 1089, Judith married Władysław I Herman, Duke of Poland. This union considerably benefited German-Polish relations; on the occasion of the wedding, Emperor Henry IV commissioned to the St. Emmeram's Abbey the creation of Gospel Books to the Polish court, now kept in the library of the chapter in the Kraków Cathedral.

After her marriage, Judith changed her name to Sophia, perhaps to distinguish herself from Władysław I's first wife, Judith of Bohemia. She bore her husband four daughters: Sophia (by marriage Princess of Vladimir-Volynia), Agnes (later Abbess of Quedlinburg and Gandersheim), Adelaide (by marriage Countess of Vohburg and Margravine of the Northern March), and an unnamed daughter (later wife of a Polish lord).

She probably had a big impact on Poland's political life. It's believed that she was the mistress of Sieciech, the Count Palatine and true governor of the country. Judith actively aiding Sieciech in his schemes to take over the country; the death of Mieszko Bolesławowic under mysterious circumstances was, in all probability, caused by orders of the Count Palatine and Judith. With the help of Sieciech, Judith convinced her husband to send Władysław I's first-born son Zbigniew (who seems to be a strong candidate to the succession despite his illegitimacy) to Quedlinburg Abbey -where her sister Adelaide was Abbess-; also, they wanted an eventual alliance with the only legitimate son of Władysław I, Bolesław, born from his first marriage with the Bohemian princess.

After discovering the plans of Sieciech and Judith to take over the country, Bolesław and Zbigniew became allies. Both brothers demanded that the reigns of government should be handed over to them. Eventually, after some attempts to break the alliance between the brothers, Sieciech was defeated, deposed and exiled (ca. 1100–1101). On 4 June 1102 Duke Władysław I died. The country was divided between Bolesław III and Zbigniew.

Judith's date of death was disputed among historians and web sources. Although 14 March is stated as the correct day in almost all the known sources, in the case of the year is more difficult to ascertain. Sources established that she died between 1092–1096, but this seems improbable, because is known that around 1105, Bolesław III entered into an agreement with her, under which, in exchange for an abundant Oprawa wdowia (dower lands), Judith guaranteed her neutrality in the Duke's political contest with his half-brother Zbigniew. Thus, she died after that date. Gerard Labuda stated that Judith spent her last years of life in Regensburg with her (supposed) daughter Adelaide, wife of Count Dietpold III of Vohburg and Cham; since the date of the marriage between Adelaide and Count Dietpold III was ranked between 1110–1118, it is assumed that Judith died after the latter year, at a relatively advanced age. Her place of burial, Admont Abbey in Austria, apparently confirm this theory.


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