Empress Judith of Bavaria



Empress Judith of Bavaria was born around 797-805 to Count Welf and Hedwig, Duchess of Bavaria. Though noble by birth she was not a part of the aristocracy, but noble enough to become Louis the Pious’ second wife. They married in 819. Little is known of her role in palace affairs before the birth of her son Charles in 823. But based on known history she probably had a large say in financial matters, domestic matters and the so called minor details that needed to be done to allow Louis to concentrate on his duties as king. She was also responsible for his duties as well when he went off to fight. The pair had two children, Gisela in 820 and Charles three years later. Judith worked hard to keep her son in the line of succession and to keep him safe from his three older half brothers.

In 830 the three brothers turned on their father and accused Judith of witchcraft and adultery and sent to a nunnery at Saint Radegund. She was able to return home once the crisis was averted. About February 1, 831 (1,178 years ago today) she stool trial but no one was willing to testify against her. In 839 she was behind politically arranged marriages to protect Charles and herself, she married Gisela to Eberhard, the duke of Friuli, a supporter of Lothar, Louis’ oldest son, and her brother Conrad to Lothar’s sister in law Adelaide.

The attack against her character by her step sons were not the only ones she faced, Agobard of Lyons, a supporter of Lothar, wrote two tracts Two Books in Favor of the Sons and Against Judith the Wife of Louis, which were propaganda used to undermine her influence in court. She was accused of being cunning, underhanded, corrupting Louis and or having multiple affairs, some of them flagrantly. Louis still stood by his wife. Paschasius Radbertus accused her of practing witchcraft, and inviting seers, dream interpreters and mutes into the castle. Her supporters, however, likened her to Biblical wives such as Esther. Poems depicted her as “a second biblical Judith, a Mary sister of Aaron in her musical abilities, a Saphho, a prophetess, cultivated, chaste, intelligent, pious, strong in spirit, and sweet in conversation” and Hrabanus Maurus wrote, “Likewise, O queen, forever keep your eyes of your heart fixed upon Queen Esther as a model of dutiful and holy behaviour so that by equalling her holiness you might be able to climb from this earthly kingdom to the heights of the heavenly kingdom.”

In 833 Lothar, Peppin and Louis the German again revolted against their father, this time he was captured and imprisoned by Lothar. The younger two railed against that granting their father his freedom. He offered to forgive and make peace with Lothar but the offer was rebuffed. During this time Judith had been exiled to civitas of Tortona in Italy where a plot to take her life was being formed. Bishop Ratold, Count Boniface and Pippin heard of the plot and helped her escape to return to Louis again.

Louis died in 840 and Charles became king in April of 841. When he married Ermentrude in 842 Judith’s political power began to wane and she retired. She died April 19, 843 in Tours and is buried at the Basilica of St-Martins.


“Judith of Bavaria (802–843).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 01, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/judith-bavaria-802-843



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