In 1186, Ermesinde of Luxembourg was born. She was the only daughter of Henry IV the Blind, Count of Luxembourg and Namur, and Agnes of Guelders.
Her birth was rather unexpected and called into question important political succession arrangements. Her father, aged 76, had promised his lands to his nephew, Baldwin IV. The arrival of this little girl changes the situation. Henry IV had to find a protector for Ermesinde and betrothed his daughter at the age of two to Henry, Count of Champagne. She lived her childhood in France at the court of Champagne. Around 1189, Henry of Champagne suddenly broke off the engagement and went to the crusades.
In order to assert her rights, Ermesinde was married at the age of about twelve to Thiébaut I, Count of Bar. After the death of Henry the Blind, Thiébaut tried to regain Ermesinde's inheritance and obtained the county of Luxembourg, among other things, through the Treaty of Dinant. From this marriage four children are born, two of whom die prematurely.
At the age of 27, Ermesinde is widowed. Shortly afterwards, she remarried to Waleran III, Count of Limburg. Together they had three children. Official documents show that Ermesinde did not concern herself with political affairs during the years of her marriage. The situation changes when she is widowed for a second time in 1226. Again, her situation is precarious. However, after a few years of rule by a mambur, Ermesinde is empowered by the Edict of Worms to govern her lands. The countess considered herself to be the true ruler and administered Luxembourg skilfully, forging strong alliances that enabled her to expand her lands not through a belligerent policy but through peaceful acts. She initiated considerable reform measures: for example, she introduced the charter of freedom for the towns of Luxembourg and Echternach and innovated the administrative and legal system of the country by codifying the rights of the burghers, among other things. Ermesinde founded numerous convents, for example, the convent of the Poor Clares on the Holy Ghost plateau in 1238. The countess introduced all these measures in order to consolidate her own power. By granting liberties to the towns and burghers and supporting the religious institutions, she demands absolute loyalty from them.
Ermesinde died in 1247. Her remains are buried in Clairefontaine.
● Katja Rausch: Portraits de femmes célèbres luxembourgeoises, Edition Kará 2007, pp. 21-25.
● Joseph Meyers: Ermesinde, in: Biographie nationale du pays de Luxembourg depuis ses origines jusqu'à nos jours by Jules Mersch, 1951, Fascicule 03.
● Michel Margue: Ermesinde - Gräfin von Luxemburg, in: Rheinische Lebensbilder, Bd. 15. Rheiland-Verlag GMBH, 1995.