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Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony

Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony

English princess
The basics
A.K.A. Mathilda Plantagenet
Gender female
Birth Windsor Castle
Death June 28, 1189 (Braunschweig)
Mother: Eleanor of Aquitaine
Father: Henry II of England
Siblings: William Longespée3rd Earl of SalisburyJohn of EnglandGeoffreyHenry the Young KingGeoffrey IIDuke of BrittanyRichard I of EnglandWilliam IXCount of PoitiersMorganEleanor of EnglandQueen of CastileJoan of EnglandQueen of SicilyAlix of FranceMarie of FranceCountess of Champagne
Spouse: Henry the Lion
Children: Otto IVHoly Roman EmperorHenry VCount Palatine of the RhineWilliam of WinchesterLord of Lüneburg
Authority Library of congress id VIAF id
Matilda of England, Duchess of Saxony
The details

Matilda of England (also called Maud; January 6, 1156 – 28 June 1189) was the eldest daughter of Henry II, King of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Through her marriage with Henry the Lion, she was Duchess of Saxony and of Bavaria.


In 1165 Rainald of Dassel, Archbishop of Cologne, arrived at the court of King Henry II at Rouen, to negotiate a German match for Matilda. There was conflict during the negotiations, however, when Robert de Beaumont, 2nd Earl of Leicester refused to greet the archbishop, alleging him to be a schismatic and a supporter of the anti-pope, Victor IV. The original plan to match a daughter of Henry II with a son of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, was abandoned, and instead Matilda left England in September 1167 to marry Henry the Lion.

Coronation of Henry the Lion and Matilda, from an idealized portrait on their tomb.

She married Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, on 1 February 1168 at Minden Cathedral. They had four sons and one daughter:

  • Matilda (or Richenza) of Saxony (1172–1209/10), married Geoffrey III Count of Perche (see counts of Perche) and Enguerrand III, Lord of Coucy
  • Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1173/1174 – 28 April 1227)
  • Lothar (1174/1175 – 16 October 1190).
  • Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Duke of Swabia (1175/1176 – 19 May 1218).
  • William, Duke of Lüneburg (11 April 1184 – 12 December 1213).

Three other children are listed, by some sources, as having belonged to Henry and Matilda:

  • Eleanor (born 1178); died young
  • Ingibiorg (born 1180); died young
  • Son (stillborn 1182)

Regency and exile

At the time of their marriage, Henry the Lion was one of the most powerful allies of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Matilda governed her husband's vast estates during his absence in the Holy Land from 1172 to 1173. In 1174, Henry the Lion became involved in a conflict with the Emperor Frederick, and Henry and Matilda were forced to flee Germany and take refuge in Normandy at her father's court in 1182. During this time at the royal court at Argentan, Matilda became acquainted with the Troubadour Bertran de Born, who, calling her "Elena" or "Lana", made her the object of his desire in two of his poems of "courtly love".

Matilda, her husband, and their family remained in Normandy under the protection and support of King Henry until 1185, when they were allowed to return to Saxony. Early in 1189 the Emperor again ordered Henry the Lion to go into exile. This time Matilda remained at Brunswick to defend the interests of her husband but died just three months later.


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Marriage Regency and exile Ancestry
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