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Gertrude of Merania (1185 – 24 September 1213) was the first wife of Andrew II, king of Hungary. She was the daughter of Berthold IV, Duke of Merania and his wife Agnes of Rochlitz. Through her son Bela, Gertrude was an ancestress of Philippa of Hainault, Queen consort of Edward III of England.

Family

Gertrude and her Meranian family


Gertrude's sister was Agnes of Merania, a famous beauty, who married King Philippe Auguste of France. Her other sister was St. Hedwig of Andechs, wife of Henry I the Bearded. Their brother was Otto I, Duke of Merania.

Gertrude's mother, Agnes was a great great granddaughter of Frederick I, Duke of Swabia and his wife Agnes of Germany.

Agnes of Germany was a daughter of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor and his first wife, Bertha of Savoy.

Gertude's paternal grandparents were Berthold V, Count of Andechs and his wife, Hedwig of Wittelsbach, a descendant of Bela I of Hungary, through his daughter, Sophia.

Marriage

Her parents wanted their daughters to all make important political marriages, which would create alliances for Berthold IV. Gertrude married Andrew II of Hungary before 1203. The couple had five children:

Gertrude had much political influence over her husband. It was probably Gertrude who persuaded Andrew to conspire against his brother again, but when King Emeric, who had realised that Andrew's troops outnumbered his armies, went unarmed, wearing only the crown and the sceptre, to Andrew's camp near Varasd, Andrew surrendered voluntarily on the spur of the scene. The king had his brother arrested, but Andrew managed to escape shortly afterwards. During this time, Gertrude escaped back to her father.

Murder

Gertrude was killed in 1213, by the Hungarianmarker noblemen, who were jealous over the advancement of her relatives at court. While the king was in battle, Gertrude gave out Hungarian land as "gifts" to her German relatives. (One third of the country was given away but the Hungarians got it back after the queen's death). Thus, Hungary did not prosper and the queen acted as a dictator.

The Hungarian nobles had enough and in 1213 while hunting, she was killed. Due to the current political situation most of her murderers remained unpunished during the rule of Andrew II. Only Gertrude's son Béla IV took revenge after his assession to the throne.

Gertrude's tomb was of a Gothic style. Her tomb was excavated between 1967 and 1980.

Through her son Bela, Gertrude was an ancestress of Philippa of Hainault, Queen consort of Edward III of England.

Gertrude's husband went on to remarry twice again. His second wife was Yolanda de Courtenay, who bore him one daughter, Violant, who married James I of Aragon.

On Yolanda's death, Andrew married Beatrice d'Este, they had a son called Stephen.

In Media

She is the main character in Ferenc Erkel's opera, Bánk bán. It is based on a true fact: Lord Bánk, a nobleman went to battle with the king. His young wife stayed at home. Gertrude's brother fell in love with the young woman but she was afraid of him. Gertude encouraged her brother. When Lord Bánk heard of this, he was very angry and he was leader of the group of men that killed the queen. Her brother fled for his life.

References

  1. Ancestors of Gertrud von Andechs (Sainte Gertrude)
  2. Gertrud von Andechs
  3. Translation from German Wikipedia, with further sources



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