Jacqueline of Hainault (1401–1436)

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Jacqueline of Hainault (1401–1436)

Countess of Hainault and Holland. Name variations: Jacqueline of Bavaria; Jacqueline of Holland; Jacoba or Jakobäa of Bavaria; Jacoba von Beijeren; (family name) Wittelsbach. Born on July 25, 1401 (some sources cite 1402), in Hainault, a Flemish province; died on October 9, 1436, in Teylingen, Netherlands; buried at The Hague; created countess in 1417; daughter of William VI, count of Hainault and Holland, andMargaret of Burgundy (c. 1376–1441); married John (1398–1417), duke of Touraine and dauphin of France, in July 1416; married John IV, duke of Brabant (r. 1415–1427), on March 10, 1418 (annulled around 1422); married Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, in 1422 (annulled 1428); married Francis of Borselen also known as Franz von Borselen or Franz de Borselle, count of Ostrevent, in July 1432.

A powerful noblewoman, Jacqueline of Hainault was also a talented military leader. When she was about 15 years old, her father, Count William of Hainault, died and left his titles and vast estates to her; among other titles, Jacqueline became countess of Hainault and Holland. It was reported that Jacqueline excelled in all the accomplishments thought important for a woman of her status, including hunting with falcons.

Like many other medieval noblewomen, Jacqueline of Hainault married several times. Her first husband was John, duke of Touraine, whom she married in 1416. John died before they had been wed a year, and Jacqueline married John IV, duke of Brabant, in 1418. The duke was much older than Jacqueline, who was only 17, and after a few years the couple separated. As an heiress, Jacqueline had more say in her marriage plans than most women of her time; it is thought that she was much more adamant about the annulment than the duke. In 1422, Jacqueline wed Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. At this time Jacqueline encountered resistance to her independence from the pope, who declared her latest marriage invalid in 1428.

Eventually a war began between Jacqueline of Hainault and Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. When Philip successfully wrenched control of Hainault from Jacqueline and Humphrey, Jacqueline was captured and imprisoned by his forces. Undaunted, she disguised herself as a pageboy and managed to escape. Returning to Holland, she again took up the fight for the right to rule her inheritance. She eventually had to concede defeat and signed the Treaty of Delft, which made Philip her guardian and guaranteed him the right to her lands upon her death. Although the treaty specifically gave Philip the right to choose Jacqueline's next husband, she married the man of her choice, Franz von Borselen, soon after signing the treaty.

The war for Hainault and Holland continued until Franz was captured. Philip offered to spare Franz's life if she signed over all of her properties to him. Jacqueline, who either truly loved her husband or could see no way to triumph over Philip's superior armies, agreed to his conditions. Little is known of Jacqueline after Philip took over as duke of Hainault and Holland.


Echols, Anne, and Marty Williams. An Annotated Index of Medieval Women. NY: Markus Wiener, 1992.

Salmonson, Jessica. The Encyclopedia of Amazons. NY: Doubleday, 1991.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Jacqueline of Hainault (1401–1436)

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