Margaret II, countess of Flanders

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Margaret II van Constantinopel Vlaanderen (, comtesse de Hainaut)

French: Marguerite van Constantinopel Vlaanderen (, comtesse de Hainaut), Dutch: Gravin Margaretha van Constantinopel Vlaanderen, Latin: Margarete van Constantinopel Vlaanderen (, comtesse de Hainaut), Russian: Жана Ено, Spanish: Margarita II de Hainaut-Consantinopla
Also Known As: "Zwarte Griet", "Margaret", "called of Constantinople", "Marguerite"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Valenciennes, Nord, France
Death: November 10, 1280 (78)
Valenciennes, Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais France
Place of Burial: Flines-Lès-Mortagne, Nord, France
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Baldwin I, Latin Emperor of Constantinople and Marie de Champagne
Wife of Bouchard IV, seigneur d'Avesnes and Guillaume II, Seigneur de Dampierre
Mother of Jean I d'Avesnes, count of Hainault; Baudouin, seigneur d'Avesnes; Guillaume III de Dampierre, Graaf van Vlaanderen; Graaf Guy de Dampierre, Count of Namur; Jeanne de Dampierre, of Bar and 2 others
Sister of Jeanne de Constantinople, comtesse de Flandre

Occupation: Condessa de Flanders e Hainaut, countess of Flanders from 1244 to 1278 and countess of Hainaut from 1244 to 1246, Gravin van Vlaanderen en gravin van Henegouwen, Countess of Flanders, Gravin van Vlaanderen en Henegouwen
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About Margaret II, countess of Flanders

Margaret "The Black Lady" of Flanders (2 June 1202 – 10 February 1280) was countess of Flanders from 1244 to 1278 and also countess of Hainaut from 1244 to 1253, and again from 1257 until her death.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_II,_Countess_of_Flanders

http://www.friesian.com/flanders.htm

http://genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00014201&tree=LEO

Julien le Rousseau, "Baldwin, First French Emperor of Constantinople," The Irish Quarterly Review, Vol VII, No. XXV, March, 1857, pp. 34-47. Available on Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=DIcAAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA47&ots=vW3IgxxhN2&dq=bouchard%20bishop%20of%20metz&pg=PA29#v=onepage&q=bouchard%20bishop%20of%20metz&f=false

A few months after Baldwin's coronation, lie was visited by a domestic bereavement. His wife, who was destined never to share her husband's throne, had embarked for Palestine in the fleet of John de Nesle: the voyage was long and stormy, and she suffered so much from terror, sea-sickness, and hardships, that soon after landing at St. Jean d'Acre, she expired of exhaustion, on the 24th of August, 1204; leaving her daughters motherless at an age when they most needed maternal care; if they had been blest with that care, training them in womanly feeling and filial piety, the dark stains that sully the memories of Jane and Margaret of Flanders, would, in all probability, never have existed....

On the report of this Emperor's [Baldwin's] death, Philip Augustus of France required that the eldest daughter, Jane, should be sent to Paris to be educated under his auspices, both as a vassal of France, and as the niece of his first wife, Isabella. The younger daughter, Margaret, remained in Flanders, under the guardianship of Bouchard d'Avenes.

When Jane was of an age to marry, Philip Augustus espoused her, in 1211, without consulting her inclinations, to Fernando, second son of Sancho I of Portugal, who, ruling over Flanders and Hainault in right of his wife, is called by French and English historians, Ferrand, Count of Flanders. Philip, to repay himself for his care of the young heiress, took possession of part of her territories; an encroachment which her husband resented on the first opportunity. Otho, Emperor of Germany, being at war with King Philip, raised against the latter a formidable confederation of jealous princes and discontented vassals. Ferrand joined the League, and brought a large body of Flemings to fight for Otho at the great battle of Bouvines,* (27th July, 1214) where Otho and his allies were signally defeated, and Ferrand (with many other persons of distinction) was taken prisoner by Philip, and kept in close confinement. The ill-starred Portuguese would, however, have been liberated on terms, if his wife would have agreed to ransom him. But Jane was ambitious, selfish, and unfeeling, and of morals far from correct: she determined to rule her inheritance by her own sole will; and rejoicing to be freed from her husband's interference with her sway, and his surveillance over her conduct, she peremptorily refused to pay his ransom, and left him to languish for many years in a painful captivity. Her government was so tyrannical and oppressive that she was detested by the Flemings, who deeply lamented the loss of their revered Count, her father.

In the month of April, 1225, just twenty years after the defeat of Baldwin in the battle near Adrianople, a remarkable looking old man appeared in Flanders, grave and majestic in his air, and seemingly more worn by grief and hardships than even by age. He was clad in an Armenian robe of scarlet; he leaned upon a large staff, and his snowy beard hung down to his girdle. He declared himself to be Baldwin, Count of Flanders, Emperor of Constantinople, who having been falsely reputed dead, had at length found means to escape from his Bulgarian prison, and had come to claim the love and loyalty of his natural subjects. The Flemings flocked round him with alacrity, and all who remembered their lost Count affirmed that the stranger resembled him so exactly in voice, features, and manner, that they were fully convinced of his identity with their long regretted Baldwin. The nobles put to him many searching questions, and his answers displayed an intimate acquaintance with the history of the country, and with the pedigree, heraldry, &c, of every high family in Flanders and Hainault. The aristocracy, the citizens, the populace all avowed their full persuasion of his truth, and paid him the homage due to their hereditary Count.

But the Countess Jane repudiated his pretensions with passionate indignation, denouncing him as a shameless impostor. He requested to see her, declaring that he would be able, in a personal interview, to convince her of his being her father. Yet she positively refused ever to admit him into her presence; a circumstance which was interpreted to her disadvantage. It was argued, that if her heart owned one touch of nature, she would have been anxious to look upon one who so closely resembled the parent that she had not seen since her childhood, or if she had any sense of justice, she would have permitted the man whom she stigmatized an opportunity of justifying himself (if he could do so) but it seemed as though she feared to see him, lest she might be in danger of conviction, contrary to her stubborn resolution of holding fast the dominion which could not be hers if her father was still living. It was her interest to prejudge and condemn the stranger; it was said that she, who was cruel to a husband for the sake of power, could also be unnatural to a parent. But her councilors, for the sake of some pretense of justice, advised her to permit them to investigate the case, and they accordingly invited the stranger to appear before them.

He came, dignified, calm, and collected, though they interrogated him in a harsh and menacing manner, on the particulars of his alleged escape, and on his reasons for re-appearing in Flanders, rather than in the Greek capital. He rebuked them for their discourtesies, and proceeded to relate that he had been imprisoned for many years, in a close and secret dungeon, by the Bulgarian King; but at length, his guards relaxing their vigilance, he found means to elude them. But while making his way through the country, he was unfortunately taken by a band of marauders, who did not suspect him to be more than an ordinary person. He was brought by them into Syria, sold as a slave, and employed in the most irksome toils. During a truce between the Christians and the Saracens, some German merchants were travelling in Syria, and halted to refresh themselves near the place where he was at work. Hearing them converse in German, he approached, and accosting them in the same language, related to them his misfortunes. Touched with compassion they purchased him from his master (who was ignorant of his rank); they brought him to Europe, and he hastened at once to his native land. To have gone to Constantinople would (he said) have been injurious to his interests. His brother Henry, and his brother-in-law, Peter de Courtenay, were both dead, and their successor would not readily acknowledge claims that would take the sceptre from his hand. Besides, a journey to Constantinople would be replete with danger from the enmity of the Greeks. He preferred, therefore, repairing to Flanders, and appealing to the fidelity of his native subjects, and the filial instincts of his child. The stranger was still speaking with energy, when the Grand Treasurer, as though dreading the effect of his words upon the hearers, abruptly dissolved the council, affirming that it was not lawful to debate or decide upon a case of so much moment, without first ascertaining the will and pleasure of the Countess.

The nobles and people of Flanders and Hainault, however, almost unanimously declared in favour of the stranger, and the then King of England, Henry III, felt so certain of his being truly the imperial Baldwin, that he sent him a letter, congratulating him on his restoration to liberty, and sympathizing with his sorrows. Thus powerfully supported, the stranger determined on compelling the Countess Jane to give him the audience that she so obstinately and so suspiciously refused; and arriving with a large body of followers, at Quesnoy, where Jane then was, he very nearly succeeded in taking her by surprise, but she effected her escape, and fled to claim the assistance of the King of France, Louis VIII., who being the son of Isabella of Hainault, first wife of Philip Augustus, was cousin-german to Jane. But the Flemings conceived an additional disgust to the Countess, for appealing to a monarch, who, like his father, held her husband, Ferrand, in fetters.

Louis cited the supposed Baldwin to appear before him at Compeigne; and he granted him a safe-conduct, for coming and returning. The stranger obeyed the summons, as emanating from the feudal Suzerain to whom the counts of Flanders owed fealty; and he presented himself at the appointed place with the same composed and noble mien, as when he appeared before the Flemish Council. It was the interests of King Louis that Flanders should be subject to a passion-led woman, rather than to an approved statesman and warrior such as Baldwin (supposing that he survived in the person of the stranger); it was, therefore, only natural that he, too, should be determined to pre-judge and condemn the candidate.

The French King and his councillors assumed a menacing and yet a mocking tone, to disconcert and confuse the feeble attenuated old man; disregarding the intimate knowledge of all Flemish affairs of state, &c, displayed by the mysterious personage, Louis announced that he would limit his investigation to three questions, viz., 1st., in what place did Baldwin, Count of Flanders, do homage to Philip Augustus for his fiefs? 2dly., in what place, and at what time, did he receive knighthood? 3dly., in what place and on what day was he married to Mary of Champagne? On these three questions hung the fate of the old man: and they were questions on which Baldwin might have hesitated. In how many brilliant scenes had the Count of Flanders been a chief actor from his youth! he had been a knight in many tournaments, a General in many battles, a Prince in many Courts and Councils; he had been a feudal hereditary ruler, and an elected Emperor; he had done homage as the former, he had received it as the latter: he had twice done homage for his fiefs, in 1195 to the Emperor Henry at Metz, and to Philip Augustus at Compeigne: after a lapse of thirty years (ten of them years of pomp, and important occupations, and twenty years of solitude and suffering) his memory might hesitate to distinguish at once between the places and the times of those acts—and if he were Baldwin (which we ourselves verily believe), he had endured imprisonment and slavery, he had suffered intensely in mind and body. As he was of advanced age it was quite natural that when he was suddenly questioned on the pomps of his youth, on his investitures, his knighthood, and his marriage, his memory* should become bewildered by the phantasmagoria of half faded and mingling scenes and events that those questions called forth—he hesitated—he tried to arrange his recollections—but the look of triumph in the King's countenance, and the malicious sneers of the prejudiced councilors, increased (as they intended) his embarrassment. He acknowledged the confusion of his ideas, and accounted for it; and requested a delay of three days, to give him time for reflection, and for the uninterrupted exertions of memory. But Louis would grant no delay, listen to no reasoning, and pronouncing the stranger a self-convicted impostor, dismissed the assembly in an ebullition of rage.

We may here remark, with regard to the mysterious stranger, that many highly respectable and authentic foreign historians have recorded their belief that he was, in truth, the man he professed to be. Among these authors are Sismondi (Histoire des Francais) Michelet (Histoire de France), and Michaud (Histoire des Crusades). On the other side, among those who believe him an impostor, are De Rocolles (Histoire des lmposteurs Insignes), Moreri (Dictionnaire Historique), and the author of L'Art de Verifier les Dates. But we think the evidence in favor of the stranger preponderates, when we remember that he was acknowledged by the nobles and people of his native states, and by a king who had no interest to bias him either way, Henry III. of England.

To resume. Though Louis the Eighth pronounced the stranger a deceiver, yet respecting the royal safe-conduct he had given him when summoned to Compeigne, he did not issue orders to arrest him, but commanded him to quit France, within three days, on pain of death. The adherents of the unfortunate man, disappointed by the issue of the conference, alarmed at the hostility of the French King, and the fury of their own Countess, abandoned him whom they still firmly believed to be their rightful lord. Thus forsaken, he retired to Valenciennes, and attempted to pass in the disguise of a trader through Burgundy: but he was recognised by a Burgundian gentleman, named Erard Castenac, who getting him into his power by affecting sympathy, sold him for 4000 marks of silver to the unfeeling Countess Jane. She caused her captive to be put to the most excruciating tortures, in the agony of which he was compelled to sign a ready-prepared confession to the effect, that he was a native of Champagne, that his real name was Bertrand de Rains: that he had lived for some time in a forest near Valenciennes, as a hermit; and knowing that the discontented Flemings lamented the loss of their Count Baldwin, and arguing the possibility of his being still alive, he was struck with the idea of personating him, and to that end took pains to acquire adequate information on all necessary points; and when an opportunity that appeared favourable arrived, he discovered himself as the revered and regretted Baldwin.

When Jane had extorted his signature to this prepared confession, she ordered her miserable captive to be tied upon a horse, and paraded, with every mark of contempt, through the principal towns of Flanders and Hainault, preceded by a crier proclaiming the alleged imposture and confession: and not satisfied with this punishment, she caused him to be publicly hanged on a gibbet at Lisle. It is recorded, that after the execution, the hard-hearted, unwomanly Countess received an undeniable proof that her victim was indeed her own unhappy father. When at the foot of the gibbet he entreated a trust-worthy person to remind her of a secret known only to her father, her mother, and her nurse; and the two latter had been dead for many years, and certainly never revealed it to others. It is added that the Countess was seized with a deep remorse; and as an act of expiation, she founded at Lisle, for the repose of the sufferer's soul, an hospital, called "the Hospital of the Countess;" and she directed a gibbet to be represented in its escutcheon, on the windows, the walls, and all the furniture, hangings, &c. This singular circumstance confirmed the Flemings in their belief that the Countess was a parricide.

Among the dark destinies of illustrious persons recorded by history, there is none more miserable than that of Baldwin (admitting that the stranger was he). To fall from a throne to a dungeon, to exchange complaisant courtiers for barbarous persecutors is not without parallel—but after years of suffering and captivity, to hasten home, full of affection and hope, trusting in the love of children, and the fidelity of friends, to find his most implacable enemy in his own first-born; to be denied her presence after a lengthened separation; to be refused even the chance of recognition, to be tortured on the rack, exposed to public shame, hanged like a common felon by the sentence of his own child, the daughter whom he had dreamed would have healed his wounded heart—the imagination shudders in trying to realize the dreadful picture!

We must now refer to the younger sister of the Countess Jane, Margaret, whom her father had left under the guardianship of her uncle, Philip, Count of Namur, and of Bouchard d' Avenes. When Margaret grew up, Bouchard was still in the prime of life, and was handsome, graceful, and accomplished; he had conciliated the Countess Jane by his political services; he had won the heart of her sister by his personal advantages, and by his abilities he had gained the respect of the people. Encouraged by his popularity, by the favours of the Countess, and by his own noble birth, he asked, and obtained, the hand of Margaret in marriage.

They had two sons, John d'Avenes and Baldwin. In some time after the birth of these children, (and before the appearance of the ill-fated stranger) the Countess Jane discovered that Bouchard had formerly been educated for the priesthood, had received the tonsure, and had been Archdeacon of Orleans, but on coming into Flanders he had concealed these facts, and had consequently married without obtaining the necessary dispensation from his vows of celibacy. Jane was incensed at the insult offered by Bouchard to an illustrious house by contracting an informal marriage with one of its daughters, and her wounded pride inspired her with a deadly hatred of her brother-in-law. Instead of using her interest to procure a dispensation for him from Rome, and a ratification of her sister's marriage, she exerted herself to ruin him, and to separate him from his wife for ever. She took measures to arrest him; but he avoided her snares, and hastened to Rorne, to seek from the Pope absolution for his fault, and the confirmation of his marriage. The Pope refused the boons, pronounced him divorced, and enjoined him, as a penance, and under pain of excommunication, to repair to Palestine, there to fight against the Saracens during a certain number of years, and at the expiration of the period (if he survived) to retire to a monastery for life. Bouchard was obliged to submit, and proceeded to the Holy Land; where he performed many gallant exploits in battle, seeking every opportunity of distinguishing himself, in the hope that he might thus earn the indulgence of the Pontiff (who was especially interested in the Holy Wars), and might be permitted to rejoin his wife and family.

The time of his ordeal passed; covered with well merited laurels he returned to Europe bearing letters of the strongest recommendation from many leaders and nobles addressed to the principal Cardinals, entreating their favour and interest for him. He reached Flanders in safety, and found means, despite the Countess Jane, to visit his wife and children. In this interview, he felt so deeply the influence of the domestic affections, that he declared he would be torn to pieces before he would consent to relinquish them for a cloister. With renewed eagerness he set out for Rome, to urge his suit, and had the happiness to find the Pope propitiously disposed to him, for the sake of his military prowess. He at length obtained absolution, and the promise of a dispensation to confirm his marriage, and, full of hope and joy, he speeded back to Flanders.

But alas! for human hope and human joy! the Countess Jane was resolved that the half severed bonds between d'Avenes and his wife should never be re-united. She envenomed Margaret's feelings against him by exaggerating what she termed his treachery to a young and noble maiden, and inspired her with an abhorrence of her once beloved Bouchard, an abhorrence of such an unnatural description, that Margaret extended it even to her innocent children because they were his. In this perverted state of mind, she acquiesced in the designs of the Countess to destroy her husband. The latter, on his journey to Flanders, was seized by the myrmidons of Jane, and was seen no more. The mode of his death was never clearly ascertained; but it was generally believed that he was hanged in his dungeon by the order of his savage sister-in-law, whose inhuman conduct was subsequently remembered to her prejudice on the execution of him who had asserted himself to be her father.

Margaret contracted a second alliance, taking for her husband a Burgundian named William de Dampierre, a knight of noble lineage. The offspring of this marriage consisted of three sons, William who died at an early age childless, though married; Guy, and John. The small share of regard she testified for anyone was now wholly reserved for her second family; the blameless sons of the wretched Bouchard she spurned and ill-treated for the sake of their father. From a feeling of pity, Florent the Fourth, Count of Holland, took the eldest, John d'Avenes, and brought him up in a manner suitable to his birth; the younger son, Baldwin, less fortunate, remained within the shadow of his mother's frown.

In 1243 Margaret buried her second husband, and in the following year her sister, who dying childless was succeeded by Margaret as Countess of Flanders and Hainault:* she associated her son, Guy de Dampierre, with her in the government, regardless of the claims of her elder children, the two d' AvSnes. Her sway was still more tyrannical than that of her sister Jane, and was still more detested by the Flemings. She was so dark, stern, and unbending, so wholly without evidence of ordinary human feeling, that she was called by her subjects "The Black Lady". She chose to consider her children by Bouchard as illegitimate; and delighted in sowing dissension between them and the Dampierres. Her unnatural conduct brought many calamities upon her country; the jarring pretensions of her sons created factions, and fostered party feeling.

Some powerful interposition was necessary. In 1249 the Pope (Innocent III.) sent his Commissioners, the Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne, and the Abbot of Lete*, to enquire into the case of the d'Avenes. After long deliberations, these ecclesiastics decided, that although the marriage of Bouchard d'Avenes with Margaret of Flanders, was irregular for want of a dispensation, yet, as it had been solemnized with all the due rites of the Church, the children of that union were legitimate. This verdict gave position to the young men. The eldest, John d'Avenes, received from his patron, Florent, Count of Holland, the hand of his daughter Adelais (or Alix), and the King of France, Louis the IX (St. Louis,) decreed as Suzerain of Flanders, that John d'Avenes should succeed his mother as Count of Hainault; and that Flanders should be the heritage of Guy de Dampierre : a provision was also made for Baldwin d'Avenes.

In 1253, Guy and John de Dampierre attempted, at their mother's instigation, to wrest part of Zealand from the Count of Holland, whom she hated for his kindness to John d'Avenes. In a battle fought at West Kapellen, in Zealand, between the Dampierres on one side, and the Count of Holland and his son-in-law on the other, the Flemings were defeated with an immense loss, and the two Dampierres were among the prisoners. John d'Avenes wrote to his mother, imploring her to listen to the long unheeded voice of nature, and to let the captivity of her younger sons have a softening effect upon her heart. To his earnest and tender appeal she wrote in reply, "that he was welcome to be the hangman of his two brothers, and that he might, if he chose, boil the one, roast the other, and eat them both!" It seems incredible, yet it is gravely affirmed by a respectable historian, the continuator of Matthew Paris, that this atrocious language was used by a lady of high rank, a mother,—Margaret, Countess of Flanders.

After existing as the bane of her family and her country,(which she involved in a war with England) the "black lady" died in 1279, and was succeeded (as arranged) in Flanders by Guy de Dampierre, and in Hainault, by John d'Avenes. The Istto left four sons, of whom John, the eldest, succeeded his fktba; the other three devoted themselves to the priesthood; William became Bishop of Cambray, Bouchard, Bishop of Metz, and Guy, Bishop of Utrecht. It is to be remarked that Bouchard d'Avenes and his evil-minded wife Margaret were direct ancestors of an amiable and beloved Queen of England, Philippa of Hainault (wife of Edward III), who was fourth in descent (through John d'Avfines and Adelais of Holland) from that unhappily wedded pair.

About Marguerite II, comtesse de Flandre (Français)

Marguerite II de Flandre (°v.1202 † 1280) ou Marguerite de Hainaut ou Marguerite de Constantinople, dite la Noire est comtesse de Flandre et de Hainaut de 1244 à 1280, ainsi que dame de Beaumont (Hainaut).

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_de_Constantinople

Over Gravin Margaretha van Constantinopel Vlaanderen (Nederlands)

Margaretha II van Vlaanderen, ook wel Margaretha van Constantinopel (ca. 2 juni 1202 - Gent, 10 februari 1280), was gravin van Vlaanderen van 1244 tot 1278 en als Margaretha I gravin van Henegouwen van 1244 tot 1280. Zij was de tweede dochter van graaf Boudewijn IX van het graafschap Vlaanderen en Henegouwen (VI), en Maria van Champagne. Haar vader werd in mei 1204 ook keizer van Constantinopel.

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaretha_II_van_Vlaanderen

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Margaret II, countess of Flanders's Timeline

1202
June 2, 1202
Valenciennes, Nord, France
1218
May 1, 1218
Age 15
Houffalize, Walloon, Luxembourg, Belgium
1219
September 1219
Age 17
Houffalize (Luxembourg) Belgium
1225
1225
Age 22
Champagne, Dordogne, Aquitaine, France
1225
Age 22
Aube, France
1229
1229
Age 26
Of, Dampierre, Jura, France
1231
1231
Age 28
Of, Dampierre, Jura, France
1280
February 20, 1280
Age 77
Flines-Lès-Mortagne, Nord, France