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Ingeborg of Denmark
Queen consort of France
Tenure 1193 & 1200-1223
Spouse Philip II Augustus of France
House by birth
House by marriage
House of Estridsen
House of Capet
Father Valdemar I of Denmark
Mother Sofia of Minsk
Born 1175
Died 29 July 1236 (aged 60–61)

Ingeborg ((French) Isambour, Ingeburge; also Ingelburge, Ingelborg, Isemburge) (1175 – 29 July 1236) was a Danish-born queen consort of France.

She was a daughter of Valdemar I of Denmark and Sofia of Minsk. Her maternal grandparents were Volodar of Minsk and Richeza of Poland. Her mother was also a maternal half-sister of Canute V of Denmark.

Ingeborg was married to Philip II Augustus of France on 15 August 1193 after the death of Philip's first wife Isabelle of Hainaut (d. 1190). Stephan of Dornik described her as "very kind, young of age but old of wisdom."

On the day after his marriage to Ingeborg, King Philip changed his mind, and attempted to send her back to Denmark. Outraged, Ingeborg fled to a convent in Soissons, from where she protested to Pope Celestine III.

However, the council of Compiègne acceded to Philip's wish for a separation on 5 November 1193.



Political reasons for this royal marriage are disputed, but Philip probably wanted to gain better relations to Denmark because the countries had been in different sides in the schism of the future succession to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. Possibly he also wanted more allies against the rival Angevin dynasty. As a dowry, he had asked the support of Danish fleet for a year and the right to any remaining claims Denmark had to the throne of England. Knud VI, Ingeborg's brother, agreed only to a dowry of 10.000 silver marks. Marriage had been negotiated through Philip's adviser Bernard of Vincennes and Guillaume, the abbot of the Danish monastery of Aebelholt.

Her defence

A page from the psalter of Ingeborg of Denmark

Pope Celestine defended the Queen, but was able to do little for her. Indeed, Philip asked Pope Celestine III for an annulment on the grounds of non-consummation. Philip had not reckoned with Ingeborg, however; she insisted that the marriage had been consummated, and that she was his wife and the rightful Queen of France.

The Franco-Danish churchman William of Paris intervened in the case of Philip Augustus who was attempting to repudiate Ingeborg. The genealogy of the Danish kings which William drew up on this occasion to disprove the alleged impediment of consanguinity and two books of his letters, some of which deal with this affair, have come down to us.

Philip married Agnes of Meran, a German heiress, in June 1196. However, in 1198, new Pope Innocent III declared that this new marriage was void because the previous marriage was still valid. He ordered Philip to dismiss Agnes and take Ingeborg back. Ingeborg had written to him, stating abuse and isolation and claiming thoughts of suicide because of harsh treatment. When the king did not comply, Pope placed France under interdict in 1199 until September 1200 when Philip said he would obey. He later reneged on that promise. Agnes died the following year. Philips response was to lock Ingeborg away in the chateau of Étampes. Locked up in a tower, Ingeborg was a prisoner. Food was irregular and sometimes insufficient. No one was allowed to visit her. Only once were two Danish chaplains allowed to visit her.[1]. Philip, meanwhile, brought Agnes back, and continued to live with her, producing a second child, a son. For these offences, Philip was excommunicated in 1200, and the kingdom was placed under an interdict.

In 1201 Philip asked the Pope to declare his children legitimate and the Pope complied to gain his political support. However, later that year Philip again asked for annulment, claiming that Ingeborg had tried to bewitch him in the wedding night and thus made him unable to consummate the marriage. So he asked for divorce on the grounds of witchcraft. This attempt failed as well.

Reconciliation and later life

Philip reconciled with Ingeborg in 1213, not out of altruism but because he wished to press his claims to the throne of the Kingdom of England through his ties to the Danish crown. Later, on his deathbed he is attributed to telling his son Louis VIII to treat her well. Later both Louis VIII and Louis IX acknowledged Ingeborg as a legitimate queen. After this time, Ingeborg spent most of her time in a priory of Saint-Jean-de-l’Ile, which she had founded. It was close to Corbeil, in an island of the Essonne. She survived her husband by more than 14 years.

Ingeborg of Denmark died in either 1237 or 1238 and was buried in the Church of the Order of St John in Corbeil.

External links



  • Alex Sanmark - The Princess in the Tower (History Today February 2006)
French royalty
Preceded by
Isabelle of Hainaut
Queen consort of France
1193 – 1193
Succeeded by
Agnes of Merania
Preceded by
Agnes of Merania
Queen consort of France
1200 – 1223
Succeeded by
Blanche of Castile


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