Saturday, October 27, 2007

St. Adelaide

(Adetheida/Adelheide of Italy)
Holy Roman Empress

Born in Burgundy, the daughter of King Rudolf II of Burgundy (King of Italy). She married as her first husband (947) Lothair, King of Italy (d.950), son of King Hugh of Italy. From this marriage was born a daughter, Emma of Italy. The marriage came to an ubrupt end when Lotair died and she found herself a widow aged 19 (950). Lothair was succeeded by Berengar II, aged 50yo, who was crowned King of Italy. Adelaide was imprisoned by Berengar II (951), and so from her imprisonment, she appealled to Otto I the Great, King of Germany, who duly rescued her and then married her (Oct 951) as his second wife (1st wife was Edith, sister of King Athelstan of England).

As a result of her marriage to Otto, she was crowned Empress (962) by Pope John XII. She gave birth to a sons Henry (b. 952) and Bruno (b. 953), a daughter,Matilda of Quedlinburg, Abbess of Quedlinburg (bc.954), and finally Otto II of Saxony, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 955). She founded the Benedictine abbey at Payerne, Switzerland. Then came the death of Otto I after an 11 year reign (973), and she was again widowed, aged 42 (973). She did not retire from life during the reign of her son, Otto II (973-983), instead, through her role as Queen-Mother, she was influential in state affairs, though her lavish philanthropies became the source of conflict.

Adelaide's son Otto II was turned against her by his Greek wife Theophano. And so she left court to live with her brother in Burgundy. The death of her son Otto II (983) saw the successsion of his 3yo son (her grandson) Otto III. She became joint regent with Empress Theophano for the infant Otto III (983-991). At one point, she and Theophano were forced to rescue the infant Otto III from Henry the Quarrellsome, the deposed Duke of Bavaria (984) - who sought the Imperial Crown for himself. Aged 52, she became sole regent (991-996). Then, in what surely must have been a moment de javu, her grandson Otto III was turned against her by his wife. She was, however, was able to reside peacefully at the convent she founded at Setz, Alsace (996-999); conscientious, generous to the very end (d.16/12/999). She was canonized (c.1097?) and her Feast day 16th December.

The Calendar of Saints says her first husband was poisoned by his successor. When she refused to marry the murderer's son, she was imprisoned. King Otto the Great freed her and married her. He died and her daughter-in-law forced Adelaide to quit the royal presence. Throughout these troubles she remained gracious and loving and was canonised a hundred years after her death.

~~~ Melisende (first pub: 1998 Women of History)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool post! Adelaide is one of my favorite saints!