Empress Adelheid of Burgundy (d. 999), daughter of King Rudolf I and Bertha of Swabia and second wife of Emperor Otto I, was easily the most prominent European woman of the tenth century. A group of queens and empresses related to her by blood or marriage played key roles in various realms of Europe. Queen Emma, Adelheid’s daughter from her first marriage to Lothar of Italy, married Adelheid’s nephew Lothar, king of the West Franks. Adelheid’s son with Otto, succeeded his father, ruled as Otto II and married the Byzantine princess Theophanu. Her nephew, Hugh Capet, was king of France. Adelheid was thus the daughter and sister of rulers of Burgundy, wife and widow of a king of Italy and a German emperor, and mother and grandmother of emperors, kings and queens.1 Much of north-western Europe was ruled by the women of this family who used a network of family to support one another. They met often to discuss and resolve problems of succession and family relations, presided over legal cases, received the oaths of nobles, granted land, signed as witnesses for legal documents, distributed patronage and petitioned for aid. They worked within an office of queenship that was still unstable and not clearly defined. They worked with, alongside, and for the king, but none of them ruled in their own right as a female king. They normalized female power, making it acceptable, and transformed the theory and practice of queenship, kingship and monarchy.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Legitimizing the King’s Wife and Bed-Companion, c. 700–1100
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number