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Empress Agnes

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Empress Agnes

For other people named Agnes of Aquitaine, see Agnes of Aquitaine (disambiguation).
Agnes of Poitou
Henry III and Agnes at Mary's throne, Speyer Evangeliary, 1046
Spouse Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor
House House of Poitiers
Father William V, Duke of Aquitaine
Mother Agnes of Burgundy
Born c. 1025
Died 14 December 1077(1077-12-14)

Agnes of Poitou, Agnes of Aquitaine or Empress Agnes (c. 1025 – 14 December 1077) was Holy Roman Empress and regent of the Holy Roman Empire from 1056 to 1062.


She was the daughter of William V, Duke of Aquitaine[1] and Agnes of Burgundy. She was the sister of Duke William VI, Duke Eudes, Duke William VII, and Duke William VIII. Her maternal grandparents were Otto-William, Duke of Burgundy and Ermentrude of Rheims.

Marriage and children

Agnes married Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor in November 1043 at Ingelheim.[Note 1][2] She was his second wife[1] after Gunhilda of Denmark, who had died in 1038. This marriage, helped to solidify the Holy Roman Empire's relationships with the west.[1]

Their children were:

Role as regent

After her husband's death in 1056, Agnes served as regent during on behalf of young son, Henry IV.[3] Despite being related to kings of Italy and Burgundy, Agnes was not known as a quality leader. During her rule, she would give away three duchies, Bavaria, Swabia, and Carinthia, to relatives.[1]

Agnes opposed church reform, and took the side of Italian dissidents who did as well.[1] Pope Stephen IX, who was unable to take actual possession of Rome due to the Roman aristocracy's election of an antipope, Benedict X, sent Hildebrand of Sovana and Anselm of Lucca (respectively, the future Popes Gregory VII and Alexander II) to Germany to obtain recognition from Agnes. Though Stephen died before being able to return to Rome, Agnes' help was instrumental in letting Hildebrand depose the Antipope [4] and with Agnes' support replace him by the Bishop of Florence, Nicholas II.

In 1062, Henry was abducted by a group of men, including the Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne and the Otto of Nordheim, in a conspiracy to remove Agnes from the throne, referred to as the Coup of Kaiserswerth. Henry was brought to Cologne, and despite jumping overboard from a board to escape, he was recaptured again. Agnes resigned, as ransom, from the throne, and Anno took her place.[1] After the dethroning, she moved to Rome and acted as a mediator and peacemaker between Henry IV and his enemies.[1] She died in Rome on 14 December 1077 and is buried at St. Peter's Basilica.


Agnes is a featured figure on Judy Chicago's installation piece The Dinner Party, being represented as one of the 999 names on the Heritage Floor.[5][6]




  • Chicago, Judy. The Dinner Party: From Creation to Preservation. London: Merrell (2007). ISBN 1-85894-370-1
  • Robinson, I. S. Henry IV of Germany 1056-1106, 2000
  • Women and Power in the Middle Ages: Political Aspects of Medieval Queenship PDF of an article from an unknown book, lacks footnote information.
Agnes of Poitou
Born: c. 1025 Died: 14 December 1077
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gunhilda of Denmark
Queen consort of Germany
Succeeded by
Bertha of Savoy
Preceded by
Gisela of Swabia
Queen of Burgundy
Empress consort of
the Holy Roman Empire

Queen consort of Italy
Preceded by
Adelaide of Susa
Duchess consort of Swabia
Succeeded by
Matilda of Poland

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