Wednesday, 16 December 2020

adelheid von burgund

Venerated on this day, on the occasion of her death in 999 (*931), the feast of Saint Adelaide (Adรฉlaรฏde, see more on her namesakes) celebrates her involvement with palace intrigues and the complicated power struggle for Lombardy and Burgundy. A strategic first marriage saw Adelaide wed to Lothar II of Italy, producing a daughter, Emma who went on to become queen of Western France. Quite the soap opera to follow, Lothar was poisoned in 950 by rival for the throne Berengar II while visiting Turin.

Widowed Adelaide intended to rule in her murdered husband’s stead and her subjects seemed amenable to that arrangement but Berengar wanted to assert his legitimacy by arranging Adelaide’s marriage morganatic marriage to his son Aldabert. Adelaide wasn’t having this as it would mean forfeiting her territorial-holdings and so fled to Como to seek refuge in her stronghold there. Captured and imprisoned in Garda, a priest helped her escape to Canossa and sought sanctuary with Otto I, King of East Francia. The two eventually married and having secured dominion over a large swath of land with his wife’s contribution and a decisive victory against Hungarian incursions at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, extending his control all the way to the Elbe and thus established the Ottonian dynasty of The Holy and Roman Empire of the Germans, crowned emperor and empress (a significant break with tradition in acknowledgement of Adelaide’s standing and respect) by the pope in 962. After her husband died, Adelaide was regent to two generations of Ottos to follow, and once her grandson was able to rule in his own right, she devoted herself to acts of charity, founding and restoring religious communities. Their daughter Matilda was also a regent and first princess-abbess of Quedlinburg, the convent founded by her grandmother, also called Matilda, in 936. Because of her long, colourful court life, Adelaide is designated, among other things, patron and protector of in-laws, exiles, empresses and step-parents.