Empress Adelaide Facts:
Occupation: saint, Western empress, regent
Dates: 931-999; feast day December 16
Also known as: Saint Adelaide, Adelheide, Adelheid Die Heilige, Sainte Adélaïde
Empress Adelaide Biography:
Daughter of Rudolf II of Burgundy, she was married to Lothair, king of Italy. After Lothair died in 950 -- perhaps poisoned by Berengar II who seized the throne for his son -- she was taken prisoner in 951 by Berengar II who wanted her to marry his son.
Otto I "the Great" of Saxony rescued Adelaide and defeated Berengar, declared himself king of Italy, and then married Adelaide. (His first wife was Edith, daughter of Edward the Elder.) When he was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor on February 2, 962, Adelaide was crowned as empress. She turned to religious activity, promoting monasticism. Together they had five children.
When Otto I died and her son, Otto II, succeeded to the throne, Adelaide continued to influence him until 978. He married Theophano, a Byzantine princess, in 971, and her influence gradually superceded that of Adelaide.
When Otto II died in 984, his son, Otto III, succeeded him, though he was only three years old. Theophano, the child's mother, was in control until 991 with Adelaide's support, and then Adelaide ruled for him 991-996.
In 984 the Duke of Bavaria (Henry "the Quarrelsome") kidnapped Otto III, but was forced to turn him over to Theophano and Adelaide.
In 996, Otto III was finally crowned at Rome, and Adelaide focused on the religious life, founding more churches, convents and monasteries. She retired to a convent where she died in 999.
In her later years, she took the title "Adelheida, by God's gift empress, by herself a poor sinner and God's maidservant."
Also on this site
- Hrotsvitha - who wrote about Adelaide
- Theophano - her daughter-in-law
- Edith of England -first wife of Otto I
- Matilda - mother of Otto I
- Women of the 10th Century
- European Women's History
- Medieval and Renaissance Women's History
- Medieval and Renaissance Queens, Empresses and Female Rulers