Richenza of Northeim

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Richenza of Northeim
Richenza von Northeim (Königslutter).jpg
Mural painting in the Imperial Cathedral of Königslutter, c. 1890
Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire
Tenure 4 June 1133 – 4 December 1137
Predecessor Matilda of England
Successor Beatrice of Burgundy
Queen consort of Germany
(Queen of the Romans)
Tenure 30 August 1125 – 4 December 1137
Predecessor Matilda of England
Successor Gertrude of Sulzbach
Born c. 1087/1089
Died 10 June 1141(1141-06-10)
Spouse Lothair II, Holy Roman Emperor
Issue Gertrude of Süpplingenburg
House Counts of Northeim
Father Henry the Fat
Mother Gertrude of Brunswick

Richenza of Northeim (c. 1087/1089 – 10 June 1141), a member of the comital House of Northeim, was Duchess of Saxony from 1106, German queen (formally Queen of the Romans) from 1125 and Holy Roman Empress from 1133 until the death of her husband Lothair of Supplinburg in 1137.


She was the daughter of Count Henry the Fat of Northeim (d. 1101) and Gertrude of Brunswick, daughter of the Brunonid margrave Egbert I of Meissen.

Around 1100 Richenza married Lothair of Supplinburg, who upon the death of the last Billung duke Magnus was enfeoffed with the Duchy of Saxony by King Henry V of Germany in 1106. After Lothair was elected King of the Romans in 1125, she was crowned queen consort by Archbishop Frederick I of Cologne. Richenza took an active part in her husband's reign, which is reflected in her activities during the papal schism of 1130, and her role as intermediary between Lothair and his Hohenstaufen rivals, the proclaimed antiking Conrad III and his brother Duke Frederick II of Swabia. In 1132-33 she accompanied her husband to Italy, both were crowned emperor and empress by Pope Innocent II at the Lateran Basilica in Rome on 4 June 1133. She also took part in Lothair's second Italian expedition in 1136-37, whereby she presided over hearings of the Imperial court and issued several deeds.

Richenza's only surviving daughter with Lothair, Gertrude of Süpplingenburg, was born in 1115, 15 years after her parents' marriage. In 1127 she married the Bavarian duke Henry the Proud (d. 1139), a member of the Welf dynasty. This act brought both the Northeim and Brunonid lands into the hands of the House of Welf.

Lothair died in 1137, and Richenza moved swiftly to ensure the lands of Saxony went to her son-in-law, Duke Henry the Proud. On Pentecost the following year, however, the Princes of the Holy Roman Empire convened in Bamberg to elect Conrad III King of the Romans. Conrad vested the Ascanian count Albert the Bear with Saxony and Henry died soon after, in the autumn of 1139. Richenza fought hard for the inheritance of her grandson Henry the Lion, seeing to his education, and pushing for his right to be regarded as the heir to the Saxon duchy. Young Henry was finally appointed Duke in 1142; his mother Gertrude ruled as regent until his majority.

Crown from Richenza's grave, Braunschweigisches Landesmuseum

Richenza however did not live to see her grandson succeed to the duchy. She died in 1141 and was buried next to her husband Emperor Lothair and her son-in-law Duke Henry the Proud in the Imperial Cathedral at Königslutter. Her grave goods included a simple and elegant lead crown.


Here is her family tree:

See also


  • The information in this article is translated from and/or based on that found in its German equivalent.
  • (German)
Richenza of Northeim
Born: ? 1087 Died: 10 June 1141
German royalty
Preceded by
Matilda of England
Empress consort of the
Holy Roman Empire

Succeeded by
Beatrice I of Burgundy
Queen consort of Germany
Succeeded by
Gertrud of Comburg
Preceded by
Sophia of Hungary
Duchess consort of Saxony
23 August 1106 – 4 December 1137
Succeeded by
Gertrud of Süpplingenburg