History - On This Day - 2 June 1202 - Margaret II of Flanders

On 2 June 1202 a noble birth took place at Ghent. The baby was a girl, who received
the name Margaret.


Her father was Baldwin IX, Count of Flanders and Hainaut. Margaret 's
mother was Marie of Champagne.

Baldwin IX left the County of Flanders for the Fourth Crusade,
before Margaret was born. In 1204, he even became the first Latin Emperor.
The capital of the Latin Emperor was Constantinople.
That's why Margaret was often called Margaret of Constantinople. 

Her mother, on the other hand, Marie of Champagne was a
granddaughter of King Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine. 


When Margaret's mother died in 1404 and her father the next year,
she and her sister, Joan, remained under the guardianship of their
uncle: Philip of Namur. Soon he transferred the girls to
King Philip II of France.

Love and Marriage

In 1211, Enguerrand III of Coucy offers to the King the sum of 
50,000 Livres to marry Joan, while his brother Thomas would marry
Margaret. However the Flemish nobility was hostile to this plan,
and finally it was dropped.

Later Margaret was placed under the care of Bouchard of Avesnes,
Lord of Etroen. This lord was a prominent Hainaut nobleman.

Despite the different of age between them, Bouchard gained 
Margaret's affection. In presence of a significant number of bourgeois 
of Hainaut, she declared that she didn't want another husband than him. 
The couple married before 23 July 1212.

Then her sister Joan, who had married Ferdinand of Portugal
and King Philip II of France began to see Bouchard with suspicion.

The French King informed Pope Innocent III about Bouchard. He
would have already received the holy orders as sub-deacon, so 
technically his union was illegal. In 1215 the Pope annulled the 
marriage but Margaret and Bouchard refused to cancel their wedding!

They took refuge at the Castle of Houffalize in the Ardennes under
the protection of Waleran, Count of Luxembourg.

Bouchard of Avesnes and Margaret would have 3 children (one of
their sons died young).

In 1219, Bouchard was captured and imprisoned for two years.
He was released after two years but he had to separate from his wife.
Bouchard went to Rome to get the absolution from the Pope.

Meanwhile, Margaret lived at the court of her sister Joan in Portugal,
she left her own children in France under custody. Under pressure of
her sister, Margaret accepted a new wedding. 

In 1223 she married to William II of Dampierre, Lord of Dampierre,
a nobleman from Champagne. They would have 5 children.

Of course, this caused a huge scandal. Was the second marriage
bigamous? How about the succession of Flanders and Hainaut? 
This resulted in a long War of the Succession of Flanders in Hainaut.

Countess of Flanders and Hainaut

After the death of her sister Joan in 1244, Margaret became 
Countess of Flanders and Hainaut. Immediately her sons from her
first marriage began to dispute their succession. 

In 1245, Margaret asked King Louis IX of France to recognize her
eldest son from her second marriage as her sole heir. (The King of 
France was the owner of the County of Flanders)

In 1246, King Louis IX of France gave this right to the Dampierre

On 6 June 1251, her eldest son, William of Dampierre died 
unexpected from injuries received during a tournament.

A civil war followed, which ended when the Avesnes forces defeated
and imprisoned Guy of Dampierre (brother of William). 

In 1246, Hainaut and Flanders were split between the Avesnes and 
the Dampierre children. 

Hainaut and Flanders were reunited again in 1432. Then, Jacqueline
of Bavaria, the Avesnes heiress, surrendered her domains to
Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, the Dampierre heir.


Margaret of Constantinople died on 10 February 1280 in Ghent.

Source pictures: Wikipedia
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