Ingeborg (c. 1176–1237/38)

views updated

Ingeborg (c. 1176–1237/38)

Queen of France. Name variations: Ingeborg of Denmark; Ingeborg Valdemarsdottir; Ingeburge or Ingelburge (French); Ingelborg, Isemburge, Ingibjörg (Danish). Born in Denmark around 1176; died on July 29, around 1237 or 1238 (some sources cite 1236); daughter of Valdemar also known as Waldemar I the Great (1131–1182), king of Denmark (r. 1157–1182) and Sophie of Russia (c. 1140–1198); sister of Canute VI (1163–1202), king of Denmark (r. 1182–1202), and Waldemar II the Victorious (1170–1241), king of Denmark (r. 1202–1241); sister of Richizza of Denmark (d. 1220) and Helen of Denmark (d. 1233); married Philip II Augustus (1165–1223), king of France (r. 1180–1223), on August 14, 1193 (divorced in the eyes of the council of Compiègne in 1193; marriage reinstated in 1213).

On August 14, 1193, only one day after his marriage at Amiens, Philip II Augustus, king of France, took a sudden aversion to his 18-year-old Danish bride and sought a divorce. He claimed that Ingeborg, who has been described as charming and good-natured, had bewitched him. (Philip was not an ideal husband; he had also threatened to banish his first wife Isabella of Hainault , before she died at age 20.)

For almost 20 years, Philip used every avenue to obtain a declaration of nullity from the Catholic Church. He tried to induce Ingeborg to seek a divorce herself; he forged a genealogical tree to prove that she was too closely related to his first wife; he demanded that Denmark take her back and expelled representatives of the Danish court. The council of Compiègne, a conclave of French bishops, acceded to his wish on November 5, 1193, and Ingeborg was packed off to a monastery near Paris. But when Ingeborg appealed her case to popes Celestine III and Innocent III successively, they took up the defense of the unfortunate queen and declared the dissolution of the marriage had no validity. Meanwhile, the Danish court exerted pressure on the papal court to have her set free. Hearing this, Philip became infuriated, threw Ingeborg into prison in the château of Étampes, and prevented her from corresponding with Denmark.

Philip, then married Agnes of Meran in June 1196. For this, he was excommunicated and his kingdom was just about to be placed under an interdict when Agnes died in 1201. At last, however, in 1213, hoping perhaps to justify, by Ingeborg's hereditary claims, his designs on the throne of England of John I Lackland, Philip was reconciled with Ingeborg, though they never resumed marital relations. She survived him by more than 14 years, passing the greater part of the time in the priory of St. Jean at Corbeil, which she had founded. On good terms with the ensuing French kings, Philip's son and grandson, she lived peacefully, gaining a reputation for kindness, and died highly esteemed in 1237 or 1238.