Anne of Bohemia and Hungary

By Heather R. Darsie, JD

Anna Jagellonica was born 23 July 1503. Known more commonly as Anne of Bohemia and Hungary, she was the only daughter and eldest child of Vladislaus II. Vladislaus was king of Bohemia, Hungary, and Croatia. Anne’s mother was Anne of Foix-Candale, a French noblewoman. The women were descended from John II of Aragon, whose son was one half of the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella. Anne of Bohemia and Hungary’s mother died in 1506, shortly after the birth of Anne’s little brother Ludwig.

After the death of Anne’s father in 1516, she moved to Innsbruck to live at the Austrian court with her sister-in-law, Maria von Habsburg. Anne was promised as a bride to Maria’s elder brother Ferdinand, and Maria was promised to Ludwig. After the death of Anne and Ludwig’s father, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I adopted Ludwig as his son. Sadly, Maximilian’s own son, Philip the Handsome, died in 1506. By adopting Anne’s brother Ludwig, Maximilian ensured his control over the marriages of his grandchildren Maria and Ferdinand with Ludwig and Anne. It also gave Maximilian greater political standing in Hungary and Bohemia.

Anne of Bohemia and Hungary by Hans Maler zu Schwaz.

In July 1515, the spectacular Viennese Double Wedding took place, solemnizing the marriages of Anne and Ferdinand, and Maria and Ludwig. The wedding celebrations lasted a full twelve days, and cost an immense amount of money for the time. On 17 July, the patriarchs of the Habsburg and Jagiellonian families met in Vienna. Present were Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, grandfather of Maria and Ferdinand, Anne’s and Ludwig’s father King Vladislav of Croatia, Bohemia, and Hungary, and Anne’s and Ludwig’s uncle KIng Sigismind og Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania. The people of Vienna were happy to welcome the important people to their city. On 20 July, the final marriage negotiations were completed. That same day, Maximilian I adopted Ludwig as his son in violation of imperial law. On the other hand, Maximilian could now assert himself in Hungry and Bohemia, if need be.

Just who Anne’s husband would be was not clear during the negotiations. The thrice-married, twice-widowed Maximilian was fifty-six years old while Anne was days short of her twelfth birthday. Maximilian’s grandson Ferdinand was with Spanish father in Spain, making who knows what plans for the young man. Maximilian’s other grandson Charles was engaged to Princess Mary Tudor of England, daughter of Henry VII. To that end, Maximilian promised that if Anne could not have either Ferdinand or Charles as a husband within one year, that Maximilian himself would be Anne’s husband. Maximilian stood proxy for his grandsons during the wedding.

Anne’s brother faired better; he knew right away that he was marrying Maria von Habsburg.

Anne of Bohemia and Hungary by Hans Maler zu Schwaz, 1520.

On 22 July, the double-wedding took place at St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna. All the imperial notables were there, as were representatives of several leading European houses. The ceremony for Maximilian and Anne took place first. Anne, who would turn twelve years old the next day, was promised by Maximilian,

“Although We have now given your loved the word that you should be Our wife, this was done in the name of both Our absent grandsons, and in the opinion of marrying Your Beloved Grace to one of them, whom We also hereby promise you in marriage. And because my grandson Charles will inherit and expect the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon, and his brother Ferdinand can expect the kingdom of Naples, we hereby declare and call you Our beloved, a queen, and We want you to be crowned one!”

Woodcut by Albrecht Duerer showing the Viennese Double Wedding of 1515. Anne is on the right, with Maximilian’s arm around her.

The wedding celebrations went for a solid week. Anne found out that Ferdinand would be her husband a few months later. The marriage contract was signed by the end of 1515, although their actual wedding did not take place until 1521. This was in part due to the tender age of Anne and Ferdinand. The couple finally wed in Lintz, when she was almost eighteen years old and her groom was just turned eighteen. The couple reportedly had a very loving, successful marriage. Ferdinand respected Anne, and appointed her to his council right away. He always brought her with him when he had to travel, refusing to be separated from his beloved Anne.

After the tragic death of her brother Ludwig in 1526, Anne’s husband claimed the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary jure uxoris. Between holding the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary, and Ferdinand being an Archduke of Austria, the couple’s fifteen children were well-situated to make successful wedding matches. Anne and Ferdinand’s impressive fecundity expanded Habsburg influence to all corners of Europe.

Anne, for her part, was remembered for her charity, piety, and kind nature. She died 27 January 1547, three days after the birth of her daughter Johanna. Anne was forty-six years old.

Love learning about the Holy Roman Empire or Early Modern period? Are you interested in Tudor history or Women’s history? Then check out my book, Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’, a new biography about Anna of Cleves told from the German perspective!

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You Might Also Like

  1. The Habsburgs in the Medieval and Early Modern Period
  2. The Habsburg Sisters, Part I: Eleonore von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Portugal and France
  3. The Habsburg Sisters, Part II: Isabella von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden
  4. The Habsburg Sisters, Part III: Maria von Habsburg, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia
  5. The Habsburg Sisters, Part IV: Catherine von Habsburg, Queen Consort of Portugal

Sources & Suggested Reading

  1. Obermayer-Marnach, Eva. “Anna Jagiello.” Neue Deutsche Biographie. Vol. 1. Berlin: Duncker & Humboldt (1953). 
  2. Wiesflecker, Hermann. ” Maximilian I.” Neue Deutsche Biographie. Vol. 16. Berlin: Duncker & Humboldt (1990).

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