Elisabeth of Brunswick-Lüneburg was born circa 1230 as the daughter of Otto I, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Matilda of Brandenburg.
On 25 January 1252, Elisabeth married William II of Holland, who had also been elected King of the Romans in 1247. A huge fire ravaged the city of Brunswick during their wedding night, including through the castle where they were staying, and it was probably Elisabeth who led her groom to safety.
They went on to have two children: Floris (future Floris V, Count of Holland) and Machteld (died young). William’s election as King of the Romans was met with some resistance, and his marriage to Elisabeth got him some much-needed support.
In November 1255 – shortly after the birth of their daughter – Elisabeth accompanied her husband to Worms, but on the way, she was kidnapped by a knight named Herman von Rietberg who robbed her of her possessions and held her captive in his castle. She was eventually released after a large ransom was paid.
More tragedy was to come, and on 28 January the following year, her husband went to battle with the Frisians, and during the battle, he got lost and crossed a frozen lake. His horse fell through and William was killed by the Frisians. They secretly buried his body under the floor of a house, and his body was not recovered until 26 years when his son took revenge on the Frisians.
Elisabeth was not granted custody of her son, and it was instead given to his uncle – also named Floris – and then to his aunt Adelaide of Holland. It was Adelaide who had the most influence on the young Count’s education. We don’t know exactly what happened to Elisabeth. She survived her husband for ten years and sometimes appeared on charters. It is unclear where she lived during these years. She died on 27 May 1266 and was interred in Middelburg. When her son found her husband’s body, he was brought to Middelburg to be buried with her.1