Margrave Ekkehard I von Meissen Duke of Thuringia
- Born: Abt 955
- Marriage: Suanehild Billung about 978
- Died: 30 Apr 1002, Meißen about age 47
Eckard I (Ekkehard) was the Margrave of Meissen from 985 until his death. He was the first margrave of the Ekkehardinger family that dominated Meissen until 1046.
He was of noble east Thuringian stock, the eldest son of Gunther, Margrave of Merseburg, and he was appointed to succeed Ricdag in Meissen in 985, following severe Saxon setbacks against the Wends. He was later elected Duke of Thuringia by the magnates of the region, an event which has been taken as evidence of the principle of tribal ducal election.
Eckard was high in the favour of the Emperor Otto III, who rewarded him handsomely by converting many of his benefices (fiefs) into proprietas (allods). Eckard's military responsibilities as holder of the Meissen march consisted primarily of containment of the Polish and Bohemian duchies. He had to restore Thiadric, Bishop of Prague, to his see after his expulsion by Boleslaus II of Bohemia.
In March 1002, following the death of the Otto III, the nobles of the Duchy of Saxony met at Frohse to elect a king because they opposed Henry IV, Duke of Bavaria, who was the preeminent candidate. Eckard was at that time the most obvious Saxon candidate, but the nobles were opposed to him. They only agreed to meet again at Werla and to support no candidate before then. The Werla meeting took place in April and Henry, through his cousins, Sophia and Adelaide, the sisters of the deceased Otto, succeeded in having his election confirmed, at least in part by hereditary right. Nevertheless, Eckard received enough support to commandeer the closing banquet of the Werla assembly and dine in state with Bernard I, Duke of Saxony, and Arnulf, Bishop of Halberstadt. He was subsequently honoured as royalty by Bishop Bernward when he arrived at Hildesheim. Within days, however, he had been assassinated by agents of his Saxon opposition in Pöhlde. Among these rivals were Henry III of Stade, his brother Udo, and Siegfried II of Northeim.
He was initially buried in the monastery of Jena, but his remains were transferred to the church of Saint George in Naumburg in 1028. He was remembered by Thietmar, Bishop of Merseburg, as decus regni, solatium patriae, comes suis, terror inimicis et per omnia perfectissimus. Eckard left behind his wife Schwanehilde (Suanhild), daughter of Herman, Duke of Saxony. She died on 26 November 1014, having given him seven children, though he was her second husband, she being the widow of Thietmar, Margrave of the Ostmark.
Meissen fell into dispute on his death. Boleslaus I of Poland, who had supported Eckard for the throne, laid claim to it as his relative by marriage. Henry, now king, alloted to Boleslaus the March of Lusatia (which had been attached to Meissen), but Meissen itself was granted to Gunzelin, Eckard's brother.
Ekkehard and his wife were among the 12 founders of the Naumburg Cathedral.
Ekkehard married Suanehild Billung about 978. (Suanehild Billung was born about 960 and died on 26 Nov 1014.)