Adolf II (Kleve-Mark)

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Adolf II von Kleve and Mark, illustration from the 17th century
Jan van Eyck (successor): The man with the carnations. The painting, the original of which could have been made around 1437, was recently interpreted by Ludovic Nys as a portrait of Adolf II von Kleve; this is indicated above all by the rope with the bell, which was made for St. Antonius stand up: Antonius was the patron of an order of knights donated by the Duke of Cleves

Adolf von Kleve from the House of Mark (* August 2, 1373 ; † September 23, 1448 ) was ruler of the counties of Kleve and Mark, and in 1417 he became the first Duke of Kleve . Adolf is therefore referred to in Kleve as Adolf II Count von Kleve and from 1417 occasionally as Adolf I Duke of Kleve . In the count of the county of Mark he is listed as Adolf IV. Graf von der Mark . Since the Battle of Kleverhamm in 1397, he has also been ruler of Ravenstein, as Adolf I according to Ravensteiner counting.


Adolf von Kleve was born in 1373 as the eldest son of Count Adolf I von Kleve and Margarethe von Berg . He spent his youth at the court of the Duchess Johanna von Brabant and in Soissons . Since 1388, Adolf and his brother Dietrich were occasionally involved in the regiment by their father; In 1392 he was assigned the land of Aspel with the city of Rees as its domain. With the death of his father in 1394, Adolf became Count of Kleve . In 1397 he and his brother Dietrich, who had meanwhile become Count von der Mark , defeated both uncles Duke Wilhelm von Berg in the Battle of Kleverhamm and acquired the rule of Ravenstein in the peace that followed . When his brother Dietrich died in 1398, Adolf also took over the rule in Mark and ruled both counties in personal union. In 1400 Adolf von Kleve married Agnes, the daughter of Elector Ruprecht of the Palatinate , who was elected Roman-German King that same year. After Agnes' early death in 1404, Adolf married Maria in 1406, daughter of Duke John of Burgundy ; the bride did not move to Kleve until 1415. The gain in prestige through these high-ranking marriages and the close contact with the Duke of Burgundy were the basis for Adolf's elevation to Duke at the Council of Constance by King Sigismund in 1417.

In 1404 Count Adolf was able to repurchase the Klever possessions on the right bank of the Rhine around Wesel and Dinslaken from his uncle Dietrich I von der Mark for the main line. From 1409 he had to defend himself against the claims of his brother Gerhard , who claimed the county of Mark for himself and had allied himself with Dietrich II von Moers , the archbishop of Cologne . Open battles began in 1423. In 1430 a provisional peace agreement was reached, which was converted into a permanent peace in 1437: Adolf left almost the entire county of Mark to his brother for life, but he retained the sovereignty and the Brandenburg count title for himself.

In the Duchy of Geldern , Duke Adolf von Kleve supported Arnold von Egmond's inheritance claims from 1423 , to whom he gave his daughter Katharina as his wife. He secured great influence on the policy of Geldrische and was able to acquire the Reichswald , Wachtendonk and the Düffel as pledge.

The strong tensions with the Archbishop of Cologne erupted in 1444, when the city of Soest broke away from the rule of Cologne and placed it under the Kleve-Mark family. Numerous imperial estates and the House of Burgundy were involved in the Soest feud , which thus developed into a far-reaching conflict. Adolf II did not live to see the end of the conflict and thus the securing of Klevian rule over Soest and Xanten in 1449.

In addition to elevating Kleve to a duchy, Adolf promoted the development of the country and the modernization of the administration. Numerous castles were modernized and strengthened under his government, land defenses were established, and Schermbeck and Isselburg were elevated to cities. Among other things, by founding several parishes, Adolf intervened heavily in ecclesiastical matters in his territory and thus established an early form of a sovereign church regiment.

Duke Adolf was buried in the Carthusian monastery he founded on the Graveinsel near Wesel .

Marriage and offspring

In his first marriage, Adolf married Agnes (* 1379; † 1404), a daughter of the German king Ruprecht von der Pfalz in 1400 . This marriage remained childless.

In his second marriage in 1406 he married Maria von Burgund (* 1393; † October 30, 1463), the daughter of Duke Johann of Burgundy and Margaret of Bavaria . Ten descendants arose from this marriage:

In addition, Adolf was the father of at least three illegitimate children.


Web links

  • Biography in the portal Rheinische Geschichte
predecessor Office successor
Adolf I. Count of Kleve
raised to duke
New title created Duke of Kleve
Johann I.
John IV of Salm Lord of Ravenstein
Johann I.
Dietrich IX. Count of the Mark
1398–1437 / 1448
Gerhard Graf zur Mark , as regent in the county until 1461. The title Graf von der Mark remains with Adolf until 1448 and then passes to his son Johann.