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Barbara of Cilli
Holy Roman Empress
Tenure 1433-1437
Queen consort of the Romans
Tenure 1411-1437
Queen consort of Hungary
Tenure 1419-1437
Queen consort of Bohemia
Tenure 1406–1437
Spouse Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Elisabeth, Queen of the Romans and of Bohemia
House House of Cilli
Father Herman II, Count of Celje
Mother Countess Anna of Schaunberg
Died 11 July 1451

Barbara of Celje (Croatian and Slovene Barbara Celjska; Hungarian Cillei Borbála) or Barbara of Cilli (c. 1390/1395 – 11 July 1451) was Holy Roman Empress. She received the sobriquet Messalina of Germany, and was instrumental in creating the Order of the Dragon.


Early life

Barbara was the daughter of Herman II, Count of Celje and Countess Anna of Schaunberg. Barbara's paternal grandparents were Hermann I, Count of Cilli and his wife, Catherine of Bosnia, a possible sister of Elizabeth of Bosnia. Barbara's maternal grandparents were Henry III of Schaunberg and his wife Ursula of Görz.

Both Barbara and her cousin and adopted sister Anna married ruling Kings whose recently deceased wives were sisters and relatives of the Celje family. Anna married Władysław, King of Poland and Lithuania in 1402 after the death of Jadwiga of Poland, while Barbara married Sigismund, King of Hungary in 1408 after the death of Mary of Hungary.[1] This marriage was to strengthen Sigismund's grip on the Hungarian throne, as through her father Barbara could trace her descent not only to the Slovene rulers of Celje and the Kotromanic of Bosnia to the Šubić noble family from Croatia.


Sigismund, a younger son of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor later succeeded to the rule in Germany (1410), Bohemia (1419) and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor himself in 1433.

Barbara gave birth to a daughter, Elisabeth, Sigismund's only surviving issue and heiress, who married King Albert II of Germany. Barbara lived to see her three grandchildren, Anne, Elisabeth and Ladislas. She is one of the ancestresses of modern European royal families, her blood flowing in the veins of most of today's dynasties. However, being mother only of a daughter, Barbara's position was weak, but she was nevertheless considered dangerous and evil by the Hungarian nobility. For the last weeks of her husband's life, Barbara was imprisoned and was not released before his death. She spent the rest of her life as dowager queen in Bohemia, where she was accused of plotting against the regime.[2]

Barbara at the council of Constance

Barbara's father Hermann II, as the father-in-law of both feuding Sigismund and Jagiello, played a crucial role in the 1410 pre-Battle of Tannenberg politics by helping prevent Sigismund, who was in alliance with the Teutonic Knights, to attack Jagiello. Jagiello with his Slavic allies defeated the Knights who led the combatants provided by 22 western states, including the Pope.


Barbara of Celje is a direct matrilineal ancestor of Nicholas II of Russia. Provided the genealogy is correct, this implies that she and all her matrilineal relatives were members of mitochondrial haplogroup Haplogroup T. This includes her many female-line descendants among European nobility. Her great-grandfather was Vladislav Kotromanić, and her great-grandmother was Croatian countess Jelena Šubić, mother of Bosnian King Tvrtko I of Bosnia.[3]

Barbara's most distantly recorded maternal ancestor is Adelheid von Alpeck (died 1280), daughter of Witegow Von Alpeck.[4]

Her great-great-great-great-great granddaughter was Anne of Denmark, the wife of James I of England and mother of Charles I of England, and of Elizabeth Queen of Bohemia.

External links


  1. ^ Jadwiga and her sister Mary were the daughters of Louis I, King of Hungary and his wife Elisabeth Kotromanic, whose elder sister Katarina Kotromanic was the wife of Herman I, Count of Celje and mother of Herman II.
  2. ^ Duggan, Anne J. (2002). Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe: Proceedings of a Conference Held at King's College London, April 1995. Boydell Press. ISBN 0851158811.  
  3. ^ Pedigree for Barbara von Celje
  4. ^ Rootsweb genealogy. Accessed 29 January 2008.
Royal titles
Preceded by
Anna von Schweidnitz
Holy Roman Empress
Succeeded by
Eleanor of Portugal
Preceded by
Elisabeth of Nuremberg
German Queen
Succeeded by
Elisabeth of Bohemia
Preceded by
Sofia of Bavaria
Queen consort of Bohemia
Preceded by
Margherita of Durazzo
Queen consort of Hungary
Queen consort of Croatia
German nobility
Preceded by
Agnes of Opole
Electress of Brandenburg
Succeeded by
Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut

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