Queens Regnant – Isabella II of Jerusalem

Isabella II of Jerusalem
(public domain)

Isabella II of Jerusalem’s reign would begin tragically early. Isabella, or Yolande of Brienne as she is sometimes known, was born as the daughter of Maria of Montferrat and John of Brienne. Maria of Montferrat was the eldest daughter of Isabella I of Jerusalem. Maria was Queen of Jerusalem in her own right from 1205 until her death in 1212. She died shortly after giving birth to her only child, Isabella and so little Isabella became Queen of Jerusalem at just a few days old.

Her father John of Brienne became regent for little Isabella. By 1223 Isabella was already the subject of marriage negotiations. Frederick II, King of Germany and Sicily, later Holy Roman Emperor, agreed to go on a crusade but only as the King of Jerusalem. Isabella was then around 13 years old, Frederick was a 29-year-old widower. The betrothal was confirmed, and they were married by proxy in August 1225, after which Isabella was also crowned. Isabella departed for Italy and she and Frederick were married in person at the Cathedral of Brindisi on 9 November 1225. If John of Brienne was hoping to be left with some form of power, he was mistaken. He was immediately stripped of his regency. The wedding celebrations took place at the Castle of Oria. Despite Frederick’s promise to go on crusade, he delayed his departure and was eventually excommunicated by the Pope for failing to honour this pledge.

Isabella, meanwhile, was kept in seclusion by her husband. She lived in Frederick’s harem in Palermo, and it was there that she gave birth to her first child. It was a daughter, who is sometimes referred to as Margaret, but the child did not live to her first birthday. She was quickly pregnant again, and she gave birth to a son, Conrad, on 25 April 1228 in Andria. Unfortunately, she would suffer the same fate as her mother. She died giving birth to him. Her husband had been on his way to Jerusalem, but by the time he arrived there, he was only regent for his little son. He crowned himself King of Jerusalem anyway.

Isabella barely reigned solo. For the better part of her life, Jerusalem was ruled for her, first by her father and later by her husband. She was still aged only 15 or 16 when she died. She never saw Jerusalem again and was not buried there. Instead, she remains in Italy in the Andria Cathedral. Her son became Conrad II of Jerusalem, but her line died out with the death of grandson Conradin. The throne of Jerusalem was inherited by the heirs of Maria of Montferrat’s half-sister Alice of Champagne.

Recommended media

Uwe A. Oster: Die Frauen Kaiser Friedrichs II, Piper, Munich 2008. (German) (UK & US)

About Moniek Bloks 2662 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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