Elizabeth of Gorizia, Queen of Germany (1262-1313)

17/03/2020

Born in Munich in 1262, died in Vienna in 1313. When one speaks of Empress Elisabeth one immediately thinks of Sissi, but in the Middle Ages there was another Empress Elisabeth of Habsburg, who came from the House of Counts of Gorizia. On 16 November 1298, Albert of Habsburg was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in Aachen. With him was his wife Elisabeth, daughter of Mainhard IV Count of Gorizia and Elisabeth of Bavaria. They had married very young, an arranged marriage between the parents who had met at the beginning of the unfortunate expedition of Corradino of Swabia to Italy in 1267. Mainard IV of Gorizia had married Elisabeth of Bavaria, widow of King Conrad IV and mother of Corradino, and had thus found himself involved in his stepson's attempt to regain the throne. 

On that occasion she had met Count Rudolf of Hapsburg, and the friendship that had arisen between the two had been cemented by the marriage agreement between their children: Mainardo's eldest daughter, Elisabeth, and Rudolf's eldest son, Albert. Albert was to become an earl, Elizabeth was the daughter of a queen. The agreement was convenient for both families, but when Rudolph of Habsburg was elected king of Germany in 1273, he could arrange a better marriage for his son, which would bring him more advantageous alliances. The king, however, confirmed the commitment by saying to Mainardo, "No king can be ashamed of my friend's family. The wedding was celebrated in 1274 and the teenage Elisabeth was given a lavish trousseau by her father: jewellery, precious stones, furs and precious fabrics were bought for her in Venice to give her a royal dowry. With that marriage not only the Counts of Gorizia became related to the ruling house, but Elisabeth became the progenitor in the female line of the Habsburgs. Elisabeth gave lberto 21 children. Her husband, Prince Albert, did not automatically inherit the throne, but she had to confirm her right on the battlefield, defeating in 1298 the army of her rival, Adolf of Nassau. Mainardo did not see his daughter's coronation: he had died a few years earlier, in 1295, but his political project continued to bear fruit even after his death. Elisabeth was the one who looked most like him among his sons: the documents of the time not only mention her as the king's consort, but also show her to be the promoter of his initiatives, and after the death of her husband, who was murdered in 1308, she took part in the political affairs of her children until his death in 1313. Elisabeth had in fact no particular ties with Gorizia: not only had she been married as a child, but her father Mainardo had been Count of Tyrol and Gorizia since 1271, while the house of the Counts of Gorizia and Tyrol continued with Alberto, Mainardo's brother. Mainardo resided in Tyrol, and belongs more to the history of Tyrol than to that of Gorizia. The fact remains, however, that a little countess of Gorizia became queen of Germany and empress, and had an important place in the family tree of the House of Austria.