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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Helene Kottauer

b. circa 1400, Ödenburg, Austria; d. after 1440, location uncertain

The correct spelling of this name is HELENE KOTTANNER.

Helene Kottanner, author of the oldest memoir by a woman in the German language, was a chambermaid to Queen Elizabeth of Hungary (1409–1442). Little is known of her life. She married Peter Székeles, mayor of Ödenburg, and was widowed in 1431; about a year later, she wed Johann Kottanner, a minor official in the court of Duke Albert II in Vienna. It is unclear when Helene entered service to Elizabeth, Albert’s wife, but she was in Vienna by 1436. Albert’s short-lived reign as king of Hungary began in 1437, and Helene had arrived there by 1439 as part of the queen’s entourage. Her memoir is a vivid account of court intrigues in which she and the queen are bound together as allies and confidantes.