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Margaret Maultasch

Margaret Maultasch (moulˈtäsh) [key] [Ger., = pocket mouth], 1318–69, countess of Tyrol, called the Ugly Duchess, probably because of her unattractive appearance, especially her mouth. When Margaret's father, Henry, count of Tyrol and duke of Carinthia, died in 1335, Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV gave Carinthia to the Hapsburgs and tried to take Tyrol from Margaret and her husband, John Henry, son of John of Luxemburg, king of Bohemia. Her Tyrolean subjects remained loyal, and John of Luxemburg forced the emperor to restore Tyrol to his son. However, the nobles found Luxemburg's rule oppressive, and Margaret after 12 years of marriage found John Henry both stupid and impotent. Margaret expelled her husband from her country; her marriage was voided by Louis IV, and in 1342 she married his son Louis, margrave of Brandenburg. The secular annulment offended the Tyrolean nobles, who supported Pope Benedict XII's condemnation of the countess's second marriage and rebelled against Margaret's authority. But Margaret stood firmly by her husband. After his death (1361) and that of their son Meinhard, she abdicated (1363), leaving Tyrol to the Hapsburgs. Legend has painted her as a woman of great power and evil. Her portrait was Sir John Tenniel's model for the "duchess" in his illustrations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Lion Feuchtwanger utilized her story in his novel The Ugly Duchess (tr. 1928).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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