Judith of Bavaria (802–843)

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Judith of Bavaria (802–843)

Holy Roman Empress. Born 802 in Bavaria; died in 843 in France; daughter of Welf of Bavaria and Heilwig ; sister of Emma of Bavaria (d. 876); became second wife of Louis I the Pious (778–840), king of Aquitaine (r. 781–814), king of France (r. 814–840), and Holy Roman emperor (r. 814–840), in 819; children: Charles I the Bald (823–877), king of France (r. 843–877), known also as Charles II, Holy Roman emperor (r. 875–877); Gisela (c. 819–c. 874, who married Eberhard of Friuli). Louis I the Pious' first wife was Ermengarde (c. 778–818).

Born into a powerful family of Germany, Judith of Bavaria became Holy Roman empress when she married Louis I the Pious, who had succeeded his father Charlemagne and kept intact the empire Charlemagne had built. Judith and Louis were joint rulers of the expansive Frankish kingdom; she was crowned empress in a formal ceremony which spoke of the important place the queen would hold in Louis' administration. Judith was involved in political negotiations, issued decrees in her own name, and presided over the royal court at Aachen.

In 823, she gave birth to a son, Charles (I the Bald), whom Louis proclaimed would succeed him; however, Louis had already promised the imperial throne to Lothair, the eldest child of his first wife, Ermengarde . Conflict ensued and for the remainder of their reign, Judith and Louis were in constant struggle with the older sons over the inheritance. Twice Judith's enemies managed to have her banished from court on false charges of adultery and witchcraft, but each time she persuaded Louis to take her back and was reinstalled in her position of power. The empress died in 843 with the issue of Louis' succession still unresolved; Louis died soon afterwards. Judith's son Charles did eventually become emperor, but he continued to fight his half-brothers in a bloody civil war for several years, until it was decided for the sake of peace that Charlemagne's empire would be split up to accommodate all the contenders.


Anderson, Bonnie S., and Judith P. Zinsser. A History of Their Own. Vol. I. NY: Harper & Row, 1988.

Holmes, George, ed. Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe. NY: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Laura York , Riverside, California

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Judith of Bavaria (802–843)

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