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Barbara of Celje (also Barbara of Cilli) was (most likely) born in 1392 as the 5th and youngest child of count Hermann II of Celje and countess Anna of Schaunberg. Through her marriage to Sigismund of Luxembourg, which (probably) occured in 1405, she was Queen of Hungary (1405), Queen of the Romans (1411), Queen of Bohemia (1419) and Holy Roman Empress (1433).

The Counts of Celje were a prominent late medieval family, rising from the position of mere vassals to the Habsburgs (with whom they were often in conflict) to Princes of the Holy Roman Empire subordinate only to the Emperor in a relatively short time span, owing mainly to the political ability and military prowess of Barbara’s father Hermann. By saving the life of Sigismund of Luxembourg not once, but twice (first in the Battle of Nicopolis against the Ottomans in 1396 and then again when he was kidnapped by the Hungarian nobility in 1401), Hermann ensured his youngest daughter Sigismund’s hand in marriage. The Celje family was a good choice for Sigismund as well, since they were contenders for the Bosnian throne (and they eventually became heirs presumptive in 1427), had good connections in the Balkans (Hermann’s eldest son Frederick was married to Elisabeth of Frankopan, Frankopans being the most influential family in the region at the time), but also because Barbara’s cousin Anna of Celje was the new Polish queen (by marrying her – the granddaughter of Casimir III who was the last Polish king of the Piast dynasty – Vladislaus II Jagiellon solidified his rule after the death of his wife Jadwiga, queen regnant of Poland).

Queen Barbara herself was an important figure, serving as regent when Sigismund was absent and she was a capable manager of her own fiefdoms. Alongside her husband, she appeared at the Council of Constance (1414-1418) (the two pictures at the top {x} {x}), which ended the Western Schism, and the Congress of Lutsk (1429) (the picture above {x}, Sigismund can be seen standing in the centre with Barbara sitting on his right). She was instrumental in creating the Order of the Dragon (1408), whose most notable member is probably Vlad III Dracul or Vlad the Impaler. She was the only woman named in the founding document and the only woman to be its member (by virtue of being its founder).

Barbara was, however, not paticularly popular among many nobles who thought she was too sympathetic to the cause of the Hussites (it should be noted that she is also often considered in modern examinations of agnosticism and atheism in medieval times) and they accused her of adultery, which led to a strain in her marriage with Sigismund. She was dubbed “the Messalina of Germany” by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, who went on to become Pope Pius II years later. It didn’t help that she was a knowledgeable woman and an alchemist, which earned her the epithet “Black Queen” among the common folk.

Toward the end of Sigismund’s reign she conspired against her son-in-law Albert II of Germany (a Habsburg by birth, married to her only child, Elisabeth of Luxembourg), supposedly so that in the event of Sigismund’s death, the future Polish king Casimir IV would inherit his titles instead of Albert, as well as take her as his wife – the latter might have been a made-up exaggeration, more likely she merely made plans for her granddaughters: one would indeed marry Casimir (which did eventually happen when Elisabeth of Austria married him), while the other would marry his brother Vladislaus III, who was king before him. But the plot was revealed, to the great ire of Barbara’s husband, who banished her to the castle in Znojmo. After Sigismund’s death the same year in 1437, when she lost all the titles that came along with the marriage, she left for Poland and only returned to Bohemia in 1441, two years after her arch-rival Albert died. She spent the last 10 years of her life in Mělník, protected by her loyal Bohemian nobles, notably George of Poděbrady, supporting the political advances of her daughter Elisabeth of Luxembourg and, after the latter’s death, her grandson Ladislaus V the Posthumous.

She died of the plague in 1451. She is buried in the Royal Crypt in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. Even though she only ever bore one daughter, Barbara of Celje is the ancestress of most, if not all European royal houses that lived in the following centuries.

Holland, a trained gymnast, stood out. “The scene [he was auditioning with] says ‘Spider-Man flips in and lands,’” Evans recalls. “And Tom was like, 'Should I do that?’” The execs in the room panicked. “Marvel doesn’t want to see this kid break his neck, so everyone was like, 'Don’t! Don’t!’ And Joe just started salivating, 'Do it!’” Evans laughs. “And Tom did it—and stuck it!”
—  Entertainment Weekly #1411/12