Adelaide of Meissen

Adelaide of Meissen (Czech: Adléta Míšeňská, German: Adelheid von Meißen; c.1160 – 2 February 1211), a member of the House of Wettin, was Queen of Bohemia from 1198 to 1199 as the first wife of King Ottokar I.[1] When her husband declared their marriage null and void, she began a longstanding legal dispute that involved numerous religious and secular dignitaries of her time.

Adelaide of Meissen
Queen consort of Bohemia
Bornafter 1160
Meissen, Margraviate of Meissen
Died2 February 1211 (aged 51?)
SpouseOttokar I of Bohemia
IssueDagmar of Bohemia
FatherOtto II, Margrave of Meissen
MotherHedwig of Brandenburg

Life and Marriage

Adelaide was born about 1160 as the daughter of Margrave Otto II of Meissen (1125–1190) and his wife Hedwig of Brandenburg (d. 1203), a daughter of the Ascanian margrave Albert the Bear. She met her future husband in the 1170s, in the time of his exile during internal struggles within the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty. The couple married in 1178 without attendance and consent from their families. It is possible that the marriage was forced on grounds of her pregnancy. Adelaide gave birth to a son, Vratislaus, soon.

Shortly after the marriage the couple could return to Bohemia, when Ottokar's brother Frederick (Bedřich) assumed the reins and made Ottokar one of the leaders of his armed forces in the Moravian lands. In 1192 Ottokar himself ascended the Prague throne and even achieved his recognition by the Hohenstaufen emperor Henry VI, however, he lost support and was deposed soon after. He again had to leave Bohemia, together with his wife and four children.

Adelaide came to Meissen at the court of her brother Margrave Albert the Proud. Meanwhile, Ottokar became a mercenary of German princes to profit from the German throne dispute between Emperor Henry's brother Philip of Swabia and the Welf duke Otto of Brunswick. In this time the couple got estranged. Ottokar decided to solve the problem in a way exclusive to all dynastic principles.

Two queens

By the end of 1197 Ottokar came to terms with his younger brother Vladislaus III and succeeded as Bohemian duke for the second time. He finally obtained the hereditary royal title according to the Golden Bull of Sicily issued by Philip of Swabia. Shortly thereafter, he repudiated his wife and also his adult son Vratislav. Ottokar was at least 40 at that time and risked losing the heir. Adelaide and her daughters again stayed in Meissen, while Vratislav became a mercenary in Germany and Italy.

In 1199, King Ottokar divorced Adelaide, officially on grounds of consanguinity. They were both descendants of Margrave Henry of Schweinfurt and the Polish king Mieszko II Lambert and were fifth cousin once removed or fourth cousin once removed. Ottokar married Princess Constance of Hungary, daughter of King Béla III, who was his fourth cousin thrice removed, later in the same year.[1]

Adelaide, however, had no intention to waive her rights nor to have her children considered as illegitimate. She began a litigation in 1199, calling the Hohenstaufen family and Pope Innocent III for help. In the German throne dispute, both the Hohenstaufen and Welf party alternating stood for her rights. In 1205 Adelaide could even return to Prague for a while, after Ottokar had signed an agreement with Philip of Swabia. Moreover, his first-born son with Constance of Hungary had died, and Ottokar decided to marry his daughter with Adelaide, Margaret (Dagmar), to King Valdemar II of Denmark in this time. However, when Constance gave birth to another son, later king Wenceslaus I, in 1205, Adelaide with her daughters had to leave Bohemia permanently. She retired to the Holy Cross monastery in Meissen.

The Pope still used the pending lawsuit for leverage, but finally decided that the cessation of marriage was legal. Adelaide still struggled, though in 1210 she had definitely lost. She died one year later in her Meissen exile.



  1. Wihoda 2015, p. 299.


  • Wihoda, Martin (2015). Vladislaus Henry: The Formation of Moravian Identity. BRILL. ISBN 978-9004303836.

Adelaide of Meissen
Born: 1160? Died: 2 February 1211
Royal titles
Title last held by
Hellicha of Wittelsbach
Duchess consort of Bohemia
Last holder
Title last held by
Judith of Thuringia
Queen consort of Bohemia
Title next held by
Constance of Hungary
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