Agnes of Hohenstaufen

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Agnes of Hohenstaufen
Spouse(s) Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine
Noble family House of Hohenstaufen
Father Conrad, Count Palatine of the Rhine
Mother Irmengard of Henneberg
Born c.  1176
Died 7 or 9 May 1204

Agnes of Hohenstaufen (1176 – 7 or 9 May 1204 in Stade) was the daughter of Count Palatine Conrad of the Rhine and from 1195 to 1204 Countess Palatine of the Rhine, as the wife of Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine.


Agnes' father, Conrad, Count Palatine of the Rhine and the half-brother of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, was a politician, who aimed for peace and reconciliation in the kingdom. Even before 1180, he had betrothed his daughter to Henry, the eldest son of Henry the Lion, in order to defuse the re-emerging conflict between the Houses of Hohenstaufen and Welf.

In 1193, Barbarossa's son, Emperor Henry VI, wanted to create a political alliance with King Philip II of France and wanted to give Agnes, who was his cousin, to Philip II as his wife. When the young Henry the Welf heard of this plan, he contacted Agnes' parents. Her father avoided definitive statements on her bethrothal, because he preferred a marriage with the French king, but he did not want to offend Henry, whom Agnes revered fanatically.

Agnes' mother, Irmengard of Henneberg (d. 1197) has continued to advocate a marriage of her daughter with the Guelphs. A little later they took advantage of the absence of her husband, who was at Henry VI's court, to thwart the Emperor's plan. She invited the young Welf to Stahleck Castle, where he married Agnes in January or February 1194.[1]

Henry VI felt betrayed and demanded that Conrad immediately annul the marriage. Conrad, however, dropped his initial resistance to the marriage and, seeing as it had already been blessed in Church, chose to convince Henry VI of the domestic political benefits of this marriage. Conrad's sons had died young and Henry VI could assure the succession of the Palatinate of the Rhine by enfeoffing Henry the Welf. Additionally, Conrad and Agnes convinced the emperor to pardon Henry the Lion, who had been outlawed by Barbarossa.

The reconciliation between Henry VI and Henry the Lion was held in March 1194 at Tilleda Castle. Agnes and her husband Henry had done their bit to prepare for this major domestic event with their unscheduled marriage at Stahleck Castle. Henry VI wanted to settle the conflict with the House of Welf, so he could have peace in the Holy Roman Empire and enforce the claim on Sicily he had after the death of Tancred of Lecce on 20 February 1194.


Agnes and Henry had a son and two daughters:


During the Romanticism period in the 19th century, the picture of Agnes of Hohenstaufen was coloured more brightly. In Christian Dietrich Grabbe's drama entitled Henry VI of 1830, she is depicted as a carefree but resolute girl, who went before the Imperial Diet to marry the man she loved. She fights for his love and happiness and brings about the reconciliation of the Welf and the Hohenstaufen on the deathbed of her father-in-law, Henry the Lion.

The opera Agnes of Hohenstaufen by the Italian composer Gaspare Spontini had its premiere on 12 June 1829 at the Royal Opera in Berlin.


  • Paul Barz: Heinrich der Löwe und seine Zeit, dtv, Munich, 2008, ISBN 978-3-423-24676-7, p. 367.
  • Friedemann Bedürftig: Taschenlexikon Staufer, Piper, Munich, 2000, ISBN 3-492-23032-6, p. 11.
  • Johannes Lehmann: Die Staufer. Glanz und Elend eines deutschen Kaisergeschlechts, Gondrom, Bindlach, 1991, ISBN 3-8112-0903-5, S. 201.

External links


  1. Ruth Gerstner: Die Geschichte der lothringischen und rheinischen Pfalzgrafschaft von ihren Anfängen bis zur Ausbildung des Kurterritoriums Pfalz = Rheinisches Archiv, vol. 40, Ludwig Röhrscheid, Bonn, 1941, p. 111 Online