Matilda of Holstein or Mechthild (1220 or 1225 – 1288 in Kiel) was a Danish queen consort, married to King Abel of Denmark and later to Birger Jarl, Regent of Sweden.

Matilda of Holstein
Queen consort of Denmark
Coronation1 November 1250
SpouseAbel of Denmark
Birger Jarl
FatherAdolf IV, Count of Holstein
MotherHeilwig of Lippe



Matilda was the daughter of Adolf IV, Count of Holstein, and Heilwig of Lippe. On 25 April 1237 she was married to Abel of Denmark in Schleswig. The marriage was arranged to form a tie between Holstein and Sønderjylland. In 1239, Abel became the guardian of her minor brothers.

When Abel became king in 1250, she was crowned with him in Roskilde on 1 November. When Abel died in 1252, he was succeeded by his brother rather than her son Valdemar, who was imprisoned at Cologne at the time, and she was forced to leave Denmark and enter a convent.

She managed to get her son Valdemar released from the captivity of the Archbishop of Cologne and fought for the inheritance of her children in the Duchy of Schleswig. In 1253, she secured the Duchy of Sønderjylland for her son Valdemar.[1]

In 1260, her son Valdemar died, and she secured the Duchy for her next son, Erik. The same year, however, she pawned the areas Eider and Schlei in southern Denmark to her brothers.

She made a pact with Jacob Erlandsen, archbishop of Lund, and then broke her vows from the convent by marrying the Swedish regent Birger Jarl in 1261. Birger had been one of her late husband Abel's major antagonists who had started up a military vendetta against him which was only stopped by Abel's death.[2] After Birger's death in 1266, Matilda moved to Kiel, yet her own grave is with Birger's in Varnhem, Sweden.

In 1288, shortly before her death, she gave up Eider and Schlei to her brothers. She was unpopular in Denmark, where she was called the "daughter of the Devil"[3] and accused of destroying letters from the Pope and emperor to King Valdemar II.[4]



Queen Matilda bore her first husband three sons and a daughter:


  1. ^ Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
  2. ^ Dr. Ulf Sundberg in Medeltidens svenska krig ISBN 9189660110 pp. 78–79
  3. ^ Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
  4. ^ Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
  • Dansk Biografisk Lexikon, volume 11, pp. 205–206, Copenhagen 1897
  • Annales Stadenses 1237–1241, MGH SS XVI, sida 363–367
Matilda of Holstein
Born: 1220s Died: 1288
Danish royalty
Preceded by Queen consort of Denmark
Succeeded by