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Maria of Brabant, Duchess of Bavaria

Maria of Brabant (1226–1256) was a daughter of Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and Maria of Swabia. She married Louis II, Duke of Bavaria, being the first of three wives.

Maria of Brabant
Duchess of Bavaria
Maria (centre), with her husband Louis (left) and his second wife, Anna of Glogau (right).
Died1256 (aged 29–30)
SpouseLouis II, Duke of Bavaria
FatherHenry II, Duke of Brabant
MotherMaria of Swabia



Maria was the fifth of six children born to Henry by his first wife, Maria, a daughter of Philip of Swabia. Maria's siblings included Henry III, Duke of Brabant and Matilda of Brabant. After the death of her mother, her father remarried to Sophie of Thuringia; from this marriage she gained two half-siblings, including Henry I of Hesse.

Betrothals and marriageEdit

Maria was most likely betrothed in 1247 to Prince Edward, son of Henry III of England. The betrothal of one of the daughters of Henry II, Duke of Brabant, to Edward is recorded by Matthew Paris.[1] It is not certain that Maria was the daughter in question. However, she is the most likely candidate, as her two older sisters were already married and her younger half-sister was only an infant at the time. However negotiations came to nothing.[2]

On 2 August 1254, Maria was married to Louis II, Duke of Bavaria. The couple were married for only two years, during which time they had no children.[3]


Execution of Maria as depicted by Jan van Boendale

Maria was executed by beheading in Donauwörth in 1256, after being accused of adultery by her husband,[4] following the standard practice for women found guilty of adultery; however, proof of guilt of adultery on her part could never be validated. As expiation, Louis founded the Cistercian friary Fürstenfeld Abbey (Fürstenfeldbruck) near Munich.

Sources tell varying tales about how the event occurred. In 1256 Louis had been away from home on state affairs for an extended period of time in the area of the Rhine. His wife wrote two letters, one to her husband, and another to the Earl of Kyburg at Hunsrück, a vassal of Ludwig. Details about the actual content of the second letter vary, but according to the chroniclers, the messenger who carried the letter to Louis had been given the wrong one, and Louis came to the conclusion that his wife had a secret love affair.

Over time, a great many tales of folklore sprang up around Louis' bloody deed, most of them written long after Louis' death: Ballad-mongers embellished the tale into a murderous frenzy, during which Louis allegedly not only killed his wife after having ridden home for five days and nights, but also stabbed the messenger who brought him the wrong letter, then upon entering his castle stabbed his own castellan and a court lady and threw his wife's maid from the battlements, before he massacred his wife either by stabbing her or cutting off her head.



  1. ^ Luard, H. R. (ed.) (1874) Matthæi Parisiensis, Monachi Sancti Albani, Chronica Majora (London) (“MP”), Vol, IV, 1247, pp. 623 and 645.
  2. ^ Cawley, Charles, BRABANT, LOUVAIN, Medieval Lands, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,[self-published source][better source needed]
  3. ^ Cawley, Charles, BAVARIA, Medieval Lands, Medieval Lands database, Foundation for Medieval Genealogy,[self-published source][better source needed]
  4. ^ Continuatio Lambacensis 1256, MGH SS IX, p. 559.
Preceded by
Agnes of the Palatinate (United Bavaria)
Duchess of Upper Bavaria
With Elisabeth of Hungary

Succeeded by
Anna of Glogau