Agnes of Merania

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Agnes Maria of Andechs-Merania (died 1201), queen of France, was the daughter of Bertold IV (died 1204), who was Count of Andechs, a castle and territory near Ammersee, Bavaria and from 1183 duke of Merania (Istria). Her mother was Agnes of Rochlitz. She is called Marie by some of the French chroniclers.

In June 1196 Agnes married Philip II of France, who had repudiated his second wife Ingeborg of Denmark in 1193. Pope Innocent III espoused the cause of Ingeborg; but Philip did not submit until 1200, when, nine months after interdict had been added to excommunication, he consented to a separation from Agnes. She died broken-hearted in July of the next year, at the castle of Poissy, and was buried in the Convent of St Corentin, near Nantes. Her two children by Philip II, Philip, count of Clermont (died 1234), and Mary, who married Philip I of Namur, were legitimized by the pope in 1201 at the request of the king. Little is known of the personality of Agnes, beyond the remarkable influence which she seems to have exercised over Philip II. She has been made the heroine of a tragedy by François Ponsard, Agnès de Méranie, and of an opera by Vincenzo Bellini, La straniera.

Her sister Hedwig of Andechs married Henry I, duke of Silesia and was canonized as Saint Hedwig in 1267. Another sister, Gertrude, married Andrew II of Hungary and was the mother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.


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