Sophie of Brabant

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Statue of Sophie von Brabant with her son Heinrich on the Marburg market square - sculpture by Ivan Theimer from 1989

Sophie von Brabant (also Sophie von Thuringia , born March 20, 1224 on the Wartburg or the Creuzburg in Thuringia , † May 29, 1275 ) was Duchess of Brabant by marriage and became ancestral mother of the House of Hesse .


Origin and early years

Sophie was born on March 20, 1224 as the second child of Saints Elisabeth and Ludwig IV , Landgrave of Thuringia , on the Wartburg or the Creuzburg (sources are not clear). After the death of Sophie's father on a crusade in 1227, his brother, Heinrich Raspe IV , took over the guardianship and government, as Sophie's brother Hermann was only five years old. Heinrich Raspe is said to have ousted her mother Elisabeth from the Ludowingian Landgrafenhof, who went to Marburg with Sophie and her siblings , where she died in 1231.

Sophie married Heinrich II , Duke of Brabant . Their marriage came from the later Landgrave Heinrich I of Hessen (called: the child), born in 1244, and Elisabeth. Her brother Hermann died at the age of 19 in 1241. As a result, Heinrich Raspe remained Landgrave of Thuringia until 1247 . Beatrix von Brabant , daughter of Heinrich II. Von Brabant from his first marriage and a year younger than Sophie, married Heinrich Raspe and thereby became Landgravine of Thuringia and the German counter-queen.

Battle for the Ludowinger legacy

In 1243, Sophie's Wettin cousin, Heinrich the Illustrious , was promised the Landgraviate of Thuringia by Emperor Friedrich II in the event that the Ludowinger Heinrich Raspe should remain childless until his death. This case occurred in 1247. Sophie made claims for her son Heinrich to the inheritance of her uncle in Hesse and Thuringia and had her three-year-old son confirmed in 1247 on the Mader Heide near Gudensberg by numerous Hessian nobles and the Teutonic Order as the legal heir.

Sophie's husband Heinrich, the Duke of Brabant, died in 1248. Sophie placed the Teutonic Order under her protection in Marburg on April 23, 1248 and confirmed all donations by the Ludowingers. With this, Sophie, who was the mistress of Thuringia and Hesse, secured the support of the Teutonic Order. She laid the foundation stone for the transfer of the Hessian possessions of the Ludowingers into the hands of her son Heinrich, the future first Hessian landgrave. With the help of the Teutonic Order, who supervised the construction of the Holy Sepulcher Church in Marburg, Sophie represented her son's claims in Kassel and Marburg. Since it was extensively supported by the Hessian nobility , it had a strong position in Hessen, which it used as a basis for enforcing its demands in Thuringia.

On July 1, 1249, the rebellious Thuringian counts - von Käfernburg , Schwarzburg , Beichlingen , Honstein , Orlamünde and Stolberg  - submitted to the new Wettin landgrave of Thuringia, Heinrich the Illustrious . As a result, Sophie temporarily reconciled with her cousin Heinrich. In a contract (" Eisenach direction ") on March 2, 1250, she transferred to him the guardianship government for her son Heinrich over Wartburg and Hesse for 10 years.

With the wedding of her daughter Elisabeth to Albrecht von Braunschweig , whose father had occupied part of the Landgraviate of Thuringia in the north since the death of Heinrich Raspe, Sophie had gained a new ally in 1254. In the Treaty of Udestedt , Archbishop Gerhard I of Mainz gave Heinrich the Illustrious the right of disposal over the Thuringian possessions of the Archbishopric Mainz in May 1254 . Since Sophie saw this as a violation of the treaty of 1250, she continued the Thuringian-Hessian War of Succession with new acts of war , supported by her son-in-law .

Sophie and her allies attacked the Wettins in Thuringia again militarily in the spring of 1259. Various castles around the Wartburg were destroyed in 1260: the Eisenacher Stadtburg, the Frauenburg and Metilstein. The towns of Creuzburg and Eisenach passed into the possession of Sophie. She could not take the Wartburg. In the following year (1261), Heinrich the Illustrious was able to win back the city of Eisenach through a night raid.

On October 27, 1263, the sons of their cousin Heinrich the Illustrious, Albrecht and Dietrich, defeated Albrecht of Braunschweig in the battle of Beesenstedt (in Mansfeld near Wettin) after a 9-hour battle and took him prisoner. After this defeat against the allied Wettiners in 1264, Sophie von Brabant waived her claims in Thuringia, but received eight permanent places on the Werra , which Albrecht von Braunschweig had to cede as a ransom . She was able to enforce her claims in Hesse, and her son Heinrich was confirmed as Landgrave of Hesse by King Adolf von Nassau in 1292 and raised to the rank of imperial prince .


Sophie von Brabant died on May 29, 1275 and was buried in the collegiate church of the Cistercian Abbey of Villers-la-Ville in what was then Brabant.

Family table

Family table Sophie von Brabant (1224–1275)

Hermann I of Thuringia
× 1196
Sophie of Bavaria

Andreas II of Hungary
× 1203
Gertrud von Meran-Andechs


Ludwig IV. (Thuringia)
× 1221
Elisabeth of Thuringia

Sophie of Brabant (1224–1275)
Henry II of Brabant


Heinrich I. von Hessen
× 1263 Adelheid von Braunschweig-Lüneburg
× 1274 Mechtild von Cleve
x Albrecht von Braunschweig


Heinrich's 1st marriage:
Heinrich "the younger"
Elisabeth "the older"
Otto I.

Heinrich's 2nd marriage:
Elisabeth "the middle one"
Elisabeth "the younger one"


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