Fennena of Kuyavia – Traces of a lost Queen

When King Andrew III of Hungary died in 1301, he left behind a daughter, Elizabeth and a widow, Agnes.  Elizabeth and Agnes’ lives would be closely connected, but Agnes was not the mother of Andrew’s daughter.  Elizabeth’s mother was Andrew’s often forgotten first wife, Fennena of Kuyavia.

Difficult Early Life

There are very little records of Fenenna of Kuyavia.  She is estimated to have been born between 1268 and 1277.  The year 1276 is often given as an approximate date of birth.  Her parents were Ziemomysl of Kuyavia, Prince of Inowroclaw and Salomea of Pomerania.  Fenenna was born into Poland’s ruling Piast dynasty.  The name Fenenna was very uncommon, and Fenenna of Kuyavia was the only member of the Piast dynasty to have it.  This name comes from the Bible.

Fenenna’s father, Ziemomysl was the second of two sons born to Casimir I of Kuyavia, and his second wife, Constance of Wroclaw.  Casimir had no children from his first marriage.  He married thirdly to Euphrosyne of Opole, by whom he had three sons and a daughter.  His oldest son from this marriage was Wladyslaw, later King of Poland.  Euphrosyne wanted her husband’s territories to go to her sons instead of Ziemomysl and his full-brother.  There were even rumours that she tried to poison her stepsons.  After Casimir’s death in 1267, Wladyslaw inherited the bulk of his father’s territories, becoming Duke of Kuyavia, and Ziemomsyl was left with the small division of Inowroclaw.  In 1271, Ziemomysl lost his principality and was forced into exile, along with his wife and children.  The family spent the next seven years in exile at the court of Salomea’s maternal relatives, in Mecklenburg.  Salomea probably gave birth to Fenenna during this time.  In 1278, Ziemomysl was able to recover his lands, and he and his family returned to Inowroclaw.

Ziemomysl died in 1287, and his duchy was divided up between his three young sons.  The boys were under the regency of their mother and half-uncle, Wladyslaw.  The next year, Fenenna’s full-uncle, Leszek died childless.  Leszek had been High Duke, ruling over all of the Piast princes, and now Wladyslaw, as the oldest surviving brother lay claim to be High Duke.  He did not become High Duke until much later, but he looked for allies abroad.  Since Wladyslaw was unmarried and childless at the time, Fenenna and her siblings became important in his dynastic policies.

Queen of Hungary  

In 1290, Andrew became King Andrew III of Hungary after the death of his cousin.  Wladyslaw allied with Andrew and arranged for him to marry Fenenna.  Andrew and Fenenna were married between September and November 1290.  Around this time Fenenna was crowned Queen of Hungary.  Fenenna did not play a big role as Queen, and there are very few records of her activities.  However, she is known to have granted several charters.  She also seems to have been a big supporter of the Franciscan order, may have helped in completing a Franciscan friary.  Fenenna had her own royal seal, of which a part still survives.  She is depicted on the seal with her hair in braids, which was unusual.  Most Queens around this time were depicted on their seals with their hair loose.

During Fenenna’s brief time as Queen, she gave birth to one child, a daughter named Elizabeth, between 1291 and 1293.  Fenenna died at a young age near the end of 1295, but the exact date and cause are unknown.  Some speculate that her death could have been from complications from the birth of her daughter, but it’s unlikely since Elizabeth was born two to four years prior.  Fenenna’s last charter was issued on 8 September 1295, and Andrew started negotiating his marriage with Agnes of Austria in early 1296.  It is believed that Fenenna died around December 1295, probably during Advent.  Even the place of her burial is unknown.  It is thought that she was most likely buried in the Franciscan Friary in Buda, where Andrew would be buried following his death five years later.

Soon after Fenenna’s death, Andrew married Agnes of Austria, by whom he had no children.  In 1398, he betrothed his daughter Elizabeth to the future King Wenceslaus III of Bohemia and planned on them to succeed to the throne of Hungary.  When Andrew died in 1301, Wenceslaus became King of Hungary, but Elizabeth would never become queen.  In 1305, Wenceslaus married Viola of Teschen instead and resigned the Hungarian throne.  Elizabeth eventually became a nun.  In 1308, Charles of Anjou, a distant cousin of Andrew, became King of Hungary.  In 1320, Fenenna’s uncle, Wladyslaw became King of Poland, and his daughter, Fenenna’s first cousin, Elizabeth married Charles.  Their son Louis, King of Hungary married Elizabeth of Bosnia, a granddaughter of Fenenna’s youngest brother, Casimir.1

  1. Sources:

    Faron, Barbara; “The forgotten niece of Lokietek. Fenenna Queen of Hungary”

    Mielke, Christopher; “No Country for Old Women: Burial Practices and Patterns of Hungarian Queens of the Arpad Dynasty (975-1301)”

    Mielke, Christopher; “Every hyacinth the garden wears: The material culture of medieval Queens of Hungary (1000-1395)”

About CaraBeth 61 Articles
I love reading and writing about the royals of medieval Europe- especially the women. My interest was first started by the Plantagenet dynasty, but I decided to dive deeper, and discovered that there were many more fascinating royal dynasties in medieval Europe. Other dynasties I like reading and writing about are; the Capets, and their Angevin branch in Naples and Hungary, the Luxembourgs, the early Hapsburgs, the Arpads, the Piasts, the Premyslids and many more!

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