Constance, Queen of Sicily

Constance
Heinrich VI - Konstanze von Sizilien.jpg
Henry VI and Constance of Sicily (from Liber ad Honorem Augusti by Peter of Eboli, 1196)
Queen regnant of Sicily
Reign 1194 – 27 November 1198
Predecessor William III
Successor Frederick II
Empress consort of the Holy Roman Empire; Queen consort of the Romans
Tenure 1191–1197
Born 2 November 1154
Palermo, Kingdom of Sicily
Died 27 November 1198(1198-11-27) (aged 44)
Palermo, Kingdom of Sicily
Spouse Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor
Issue Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
House Hauteville
Father Roger II of Sicily
Mother Beatrice of Rethel

Constance (2 November 1154 – 27 November 1198) was Queen regnant of Sicily in 1194–98, jointly with her spouse from 1194 to 1197, and with her infant son Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1198, as the heiress of the Norman kings of Sicily. She was also Holy Roman Empress by marriage to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.

Background and Marriage

Constance was the posthumous daughter of Roger II [1] by his third wife Beatrice of Rethel. [2]

Rather strange for a princess Constance was not betrothed until she was thirty which later gave rise to stories that she had become a nun and required papal dispensation to marry. Boccaccio related in his De mulieribus claris that a prediction that "her marriage would destroy Sicily" led to her remain celibate. Her betrothal to Henry was announced 29 Oct 1184 at the Augsburg episcopal palace. [2] In 1185 Constance traveled to Milan to celebrate the wedding accompanied by a grand procession of princes and barons. Henry accompanied her to Salerno but had to return to Germany for the funeral of his mother. They were married on 27 January 1186 at Milan. [3]

The death of her younger nephew Henry of Capua in 1172 made Constance heir presumptive to the Sicilian crown, [4] since her elder nephew King William II did not marry until 1177 and his marriage remained childless. [2] Abulafia (1988) points out that William did not foresee the union of German and Sicilian crowns as a serious eventuality; his purpose was to consolidate an alliance, with an erstwhile enemy of Norman power in Italy.

The papacy, also an enemy of the emperors, did not want to see the kingdom of southern Italy (then one of the richest in Europe) in German hands, but Henry pressed Pope Celestine III to baptize and crown his son: the Pope put him off.

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