Dietrich of Alsace

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Dietrich of Alsace ( . NDL Diederik van de Elzas , French. Thierry d'Alsace , * around 1099 , † 4. February 1168 ) was from 1128 until his death , Count of Flanders .

He was the youngest son of Duke Dietrich II of Lorraine and Gertrude of Flanders .


Power struggle in Flanders

After the murder of his cousin Charles the Good in 1127, Dietrich claimed the county of Flanders for himself, but Wilhelm Clito became a count instead, thanks to the support of King Ludwig VI. from France. However, Wilhelm made himself very unpopular with his politics and at the end of the year Bruges , Ghent , Lille and Saint-Omer recognized Dietrich as a counter-count and Dietrich went into battle against Wilhelm. Louis VI. had him excommunicated by the Archbishop of Reims and Ludwig began to besiege Lille, but had to withdraw when Heinrich I , Wilhelm's uncle, announced his support for Dietrich. Nevertheless, Dietrich was beaten in Tielt and Oostkamp and fled to Bruges. From there, however, he also had to flee and then went to Aalst , where he was soon met by Wilhelm, Gottfried the Bearded and Ludwig VI. was besieged. The city was about to be taken when William fell on July 27, 1128. Dietrich was now the sole claimant of the land.

Dietrich built up his government in Gand and was now recognized by all Flemish cities, even King Henry, who himself had Flemish landowners in his country, swore allegiance to him. Dietrich himself swore allegiance to King Ludwig after 1132 in order to win French support against Baldwin IV of Hainaut , who had expressed his claims to Flanders.

First trip to the Holy Land

His first wife, Swanhild, died in 1133, leaving him with a daughter. In 1139 he went on a pilgrimage to the Kingdom of Jerusalem and married Sibylle von Anjou , daughter of Fulko of Jerusalem and widow of Wilhelm Clito, a very prestigious marriage. This was the first of Dietrich's pilgrimages, he undertook a total of four to the Holy Land . He later returned to Flanders to put down a revolt in the county of Lower Lorraine, which at the time of Gottfried III. was ruled by Brabant .

Second trip to the Holy Land

Dietrich went to the Holy Land again in 1147 during the Second Crusade . He was present in Vézelay on March 31, 1146 , when the French royal couple took the cross after a sermon by Bernhard von Clairvaux . Dietrich led the crossing of the river Meander in Anatolia and fought in 1148 in the battle of Antalya . Upon his arrival in the Crusader State, he attended the Council of Acre, where the fateful decision to attack Damascus was made. He took part in the siege of Damascus led by his wife's half-brother, Baldwin III. from Jerusalem . With the support of Baldwin, Louis VII of France and Conrad III. , he hoped to get Damascus as his own fief. However, this met with rejection from the Barons Outremers, who had previously rejected the attack on Damascus, since it had been allied with the Christians until then. The siege had to be broken off after a few days without success and all parties returned home.

Fight against Hainaut and marriage policy

During his absence, Baldwin IV of Hainaut had invaded Flanders and occupied Artois . Sibylla, however, responded by occupying Hainaut. The Bishop of Reims entered and a treaty was signed. When Dietrich returned in 1150, he made peace with Baldwin in Bouchain with the help of Count Heinrich I of Namur and Heinrich, Bishop of Liège . According to the conditions for peace, Dietrich had to marry off his daughter Margarete to the son of Baldwin IV, the future Baldwin V.

In 1156 Dietrich married his eldest son to Elisabeth of Vermandois, daughter and heiress of Raoul I of Vermandois .

Third trip to the Holy Land

In 1156 he returned to the Holy Land, this time his wife accompanied him. He took part in the siege of the earthquake-damaged Shaizar , but the fortress ultimately remained in the hands of the Muslims. During the siege, an argument broke out between Dietrich and Rainald von Chatillon over the castle. Dietrich wanted to take possession of it, but Rainald claimed the sovereignty as Prince of Antioch for it . But since Dietrich did not want to pay homage to Rainald, who was of lower origin, he renounced Shaizar. He then took part in the conquest of Apamea and Harenc .

In 1159 Dietrich returned to Flanders, albeit without his wife, who stayed in the holy land to become a nun in the convent of St. Lazarus in Bethany . During his entire absence, his eldest son Philip had ruled the country and remained co-ruler after his return.

Fourth trip to the Holy Land

In 1164 Dietrich returned to the Holy Land again. He accompanied King Amalrich I , another half-brother of Sibylle, to Antioch and Tripoli . He returned in 1166 and took a date palm into his seal, with a laurel crown on the back.


He died on February 4, 1168 and was buried in the Abbey of Watten , between Saint-Omer and Gravelines . His rule had been calm and peaceful, and it was during these years that the county's government began to flourish. There was also great economic and agricultural development and new trading companies were founded. The greatest territorial expansion of Flanders took place under Dietrich.


His first wife Swanhild left him a daughter:

  • Laurette of Flanders († 1170 as a nun)
⚭ I) before 1139 Iwain († 1145), Count of Aalst ( House of Gent )
⚭ II) 1150 (divorced in 1152) Heinrich II. († 1167), Count of Limburg
⚭ III) 1152 Raoul I († 1152) Count of Vermandois ( House of France-Vermandois )
⚭ IV) 1152/59 (divorced in 1163) Henry the Blind († 1196), Count of Luxembourg ( House of Namur )

Dietrich married Sibylle von Anjou in his second marriage . From this marriage there were seven children:

  • Baldwin († before 1154)
  • Philip I († 1191), Count of Flanders,
⚭ I) Elisabeth, Countess of Vermandois († 1183) daughter of Count Raoul I ,
⚭ II) Teresa of Portugal († 1218), daughter of King Alfonso I of Portugal
⚭ I) Raoul II. , 1160 Count of Vermandois († 1167) ( House of France-Vermandois )
⚭ II) Baldwin V , Count of Hainaut ( House of Flanders )
  • Gertrude of Flanders († 1186),
⚭ I) before 1155 (divorced before 1162) Humbert of Savoy
⚭ II) after 1158 Hugues III. d'Oisy , Castellan of Cambrai
  • Mathilde († before 1194) from 1187 Abbess of Fontevrault
  • Peter († 1176), from 1167 Bishop of Cambrai, ⚭ Mathilde of Burgundy († around 1219) daughter of Raimond of Burgundy


  • Steven Runciman : History of the Crusades. Special edition in one volume without references to sources and literature, 28. – 32. Thousands of the total print run. CH Beck, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-39960-6 .
  • Tobias Weller : The marriage policy of the German high nobility in the 12th century (= Rheinisches Archiv. Vol. 149). Böhlau, Cologne et al. 2004, ISBN 3-412-11104-X , pp. 544 ff. (At the same time: Bonn, Universität, Dissertation, 2001/2002).

Web links

Commons : Dietrich von Elsass  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Wilhelm I. Clito Count of Flanders
Philip I.