Friday, May 19, 2017

Damn, Girl-St. Adelaide, Empress of Italy

Empress Adelaide was quite the lady. And by 'quite the lady' I mean she was a hecking badass. Her life reads like a Dumas novel met Game of Thrones, except with significantly less sex, violence, and dragons. She was crowned Holy Roman Empress in her own right, co-ruled said empire along with her second husband, Otto I, and exerted enormous political influence over Otto's successor, all while supporting religious orders, and bringing the German church further under the Pope's control.

Image result for adelaide of italyAdelaide was born in Burgandy, France, and was married to Lothair, King of Italy, when she was fifteen. She reportedly helped Lothair rule Italy, and was quite popular with the Italian people. However, in 950 Lothair was poisoned by his adviser Berengar, who decided that a vicious coup was in order. Berengar ignored Adelaide's claim to the Italian throne, and imprisoned the widowed Adelaide when she refused to marry his son, Adalbert. Adelaide wasn't super keen on being imprisoned, so with the help of her maids she started to tunnel a hole in the castle wall. Meanwhile her priest bro, Warinus, was tunneling from the outside of the castle walls. The two teams kept digging until they were able to escape. Very Count of Monte Cristo, no?

Adelaide escaped, and with Warinus' help got a letter to the German king Otto I, promising to marry him if he helped her reclaim her lands in Italy. Otto jumped at this opportunity, 'cause who can say no to becoming King of Italy? In 951 they were married, and, surprisingly enough, liked each other, despite a 20 year age difference. It took them eleven years, but they were able to reclaim Adelaide's lands in Italy, and fuse Germany and Italy together, creating a Holy Roman Empire.

Pope John III crowned Adelaide Empress (and Otto Emperor, but we're not talking about him), and she proceeded to co-rule the Empire from Saxony with Otto. They had five children, four of whom survived birth. Adelaide was extremely popular with the people, and well known for her charitable works and support of religious reform. She was also popular with her son, and when her husband died her son, Otto II leaned on her as his closest adviser.

Image result for adelaide of italy
Adelaide and Otto I
Until Theophano came along, that was. Theophano was a Byzantine princess, and more than a match for Adelaide. The power struggle between the ladies combined with Adelaide's excess donations to religious orders led to Adelaide leaving court, and returning to her childhood home of Burgandy to live with her brother, King Conrad.

A few years later the two reconciled, and just in time, because Otto II soon died, leaving his three year old son, Otto III as king. Theophano and Adelaide joined forces, and kept the Holy Roman Empire intact until Otto III came of age. Otto III wasn't as appreciative of Adelaide as his to predecessors, and so Adelaide retired to a nunnery. She died on December 16, 999.

To this day Adelaide is remembered as one of the greatest ladies of the middle ages. She exercised enormous power, and her religious works saw her canonized nearly a century after her death. She was an exceptional woman who ruled her dowry lands in her own right, and enabled her husband and son to successfully run an empire that would gradually become a world power.

Sources
Encyclopedia.com
New World Encyclopedia
Epistolae
Women in World History
Encyclopedia Brittanica

1 comment:

  1. Stories like these from History are a very big evidence that women, if empowered, can do wonders. Most societies in the world don’t give women their basic rights and treat them like second class citizens. It is high time that women around the world are empowered. If this happens, world would definitely become a better place.

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