Jakobea of Baden was born on 16 January 1558 as the daughter of Philibert of Baden-Baden and Mechtild of Bavaria. She was just 6 when her mother died and 11 when her father also died. From then on she was raised at the court of Albert V of Bavaria, who was her mother’s brother. She was apparently quite an attractive bride. She married Duke John William of Jülich-Cleves-Berg on 16 June 1585. John was mentally unstable, and he often descended into full madness. As the second-born, but the first surviving son of his father, John was unprepared for the task ahead, as his father could not overcome the death of his eldest son.
His father died in 1592, and Jakobea tried to rule on behalf of her husband, as he had been locked away due to his temper. Her husband was possibly impotent, and they never conceived a child. I also think having a husband locked away would not have helped Jakobea to get pregnant. She probably began a relationship with Dietrich von Hall Zu Ophoven, who worked as a bailiff. For this, she was arrested and locked in a tower at Düsseldorf Castle in 1595. Quite ironically, this was also the place where she had been married several years before. She tried to plead her case in court, but the case was stalled. Her sister-in-law, Sibylle of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, had gained power, and it was she who was perhaps partly to blame for what happened next. Though we do not know precisely what happened, on 3 September 1597 Jakobea was found dead in her rooms. She had even received guests and had toasted to her husband’s health the night before.
An eyewitness account states that her face was red and blue with swollen eyes, suggesting possibly suffocation or strangulation. 1 Jakobea was buried one week later at the Kreuzherren Church in Düsseldorf, but by 1820 her body was moved to the St. Lambert Church, also in Düsseldorf.
Her death was quite convenient for her husband as it left him free to marry again. He married Anne of Lorraine in 1599, but they too remained childless. She did manage to gain some power and was appointed co-regent. She only outlived her husband for one year.
Jakobea is linked to ghost sightings at Düsseldorf Castle. She is known as the White Lady of the Tower. As of 1872, the Tower is the part of the castle that is still standing after a fire. Supposedly the Lady is headless, giving way to rumours that Jakobea was beheaded.
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