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Hedwig

(c. 1174—1243)


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(c.1174–1243),

duchess of Silesia. Born at Andechs (Bavaria), the daughter of count Berthold, she lived as a child in the monastery of Kitzingen. At the age of twelve she married Henry, future duke of Silesia, then eighteen years old, who succeeded his father in 1202. By him she had seven children, from whose quarrels she suffered much.

She was prominent in founding religious houses, notably those of Friars, and a Cistercian nunnery at Trebnitz (near Breslau), the first convent of women in Silesia. Convict labour was employed to build it. After 1209, from which time she and Henry lived in continence, she made her home nearby and took the Cistercian habit after his death in 1238.

Henry was involved in wars, notably in 1227–8 against Swatopluk of Pomerania and Conrad of Masovia. When he was captured, she acted as peacemaker; the two dukes were reconciled and her two grand-daughters were betrothed to Conrad's sons.

In 1240 her son Henry led his troops against the Tartar invaders and died at the battle of Wahlstadt. She comforted her daughter and daughter-in-law, knowing of the death by prophecy long before it was announced. Her biographers claimed other prophecies and miracles for her while still alive. She died and was buried at Trebnitz and was canonized in 1267. Feast: 16 October.

AA.SS. Oct. VIII (1853), 198–270; modern Lives by K. and F. Metzger (1927) and H. Quillus (1938); see also B.L.S., x. 105 and Bibl. SS., iv. 933–4.

Subjects: Christianity — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).


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