Barbara of Brandenburg was born on 30 May 1464 as the daughter of Albrecht III, Elector of Brandenburg and Anna of Saxony. Barbara was just one of nineteen children from her father’s two marriages. At the age of just eight, Barbara was married in Berlin to Duke Henry XI of Glogów (Poland), who was thirty years older than her. She had an interesting marriage contract, which stated that if Henry died without issue, all his lands were to pass to his wife. It was perhaps no surprise that Barbara’s ambitious family might have had him poisoned four years later, for he was to die suddenly on 22 February 1476.
This left 12-year-old Barbara as the Duchess regnant of Glogów, but her husband’s cousin, who should have been his heir, was not amused. Barbara had a powerful ally in the form of King Vladislaus II of Bohemia who quite liked to add Glogów to his domains, and they were married nine months later. Vladislaus was eight years older than her.
Barbara was unable to travel to Bohemia to be crowned Queen due to the succession struggles and Vladislaus soon tired of his marriage. Her father was enraged but went as far as to offer Barbara’s younger sister in her place if Barbara did not please him anymore. Vladislaus refused this and was unable to get out of the marriage. They remained married but never saw each other again. Vladislaus must have forgotten about Barbara as he soon married Beatrice of Naples in pursuit of the Hungarian Crown. If he was looking for heirs, he was soon to be sorry. Beatrice of Naples did not produce any children, and he was stuck in a bigamous situation.
Meanwhile, Barbara had grown up, and she was looking to divorce Vladislaus. In fact, she was in love. However, it was not to be. The man she was in love with was a simple knight by the name of Conrad of Heideck, and her family did not approve in the least. Barbara was imprisoned in Plassenburg Castle. Five years later Vladislaus finally got his wish when the pope dissolved both his marriages. Beatrice of Naples retired to Naples where she died eight years later. Vladislaus remarried to Anne of Foix-Candale, who gave him his heir.
And Barbara you say? Well, she probably continued to be imprisoned at Plassenburg Castle. She died in Ansbach, the place of her birth, on 4 September 1515, so she was probably released at some point, but we cannot know for certain when. She is buried in the Heilsbronn Abbey, with many other members of her family.