Adela of France, Countess of Flanders

Adela of France, Countess of Flanders

Adela Capet, Adèle of France or Adela of Flanders [Other forms of her name are Adela, Adélaïde, Adelheid, Aelis and Alix.] , known also as Adela the Holy or Adela of Messines; (1009 – 8 January, 1079, Messines) was the second daughter of Robert II (the Pious), and Constance of Arles. As dowry to her future husband, she received from his father the title of "Countess of Corbie".

Her family

She was a member of the House of Capet, the rulers of France. As the wife of Baldwin V, she was Countess of Flanders from 1036 to 1067.

She married first 1027 Richard III Duke of Normandy (997 † 1027). They never had children.As a widow, she remarried in 1028 in Paris to Baldwin V of Flanders (1012 † 1067). Their children were:
* Baldwin VI of Flanders, (1030 † 1070)
* Matilda of Flanders (1032 † 1083). In 1053 she married William Duke of Normandy, the future king of England
* Robert I of Flanders, (1033-1093)
* Henry of Flanders (c. 1035)
* Sir Richard of Flanders (c. 1050-1105)

Political influence

Adèle’s influence lay mainly in her family connections. On the death of her brother, Henry I of France, the guardianship of his seven-year-old son Philip I fell jointly on his widow, Ann of Kiev, and on his brother-in-law, Adela's husband, so that from 1060 to 1067, they were Regents of France.

Battle of Cassel (1071)

When Adela's third son, Robert the Frisian, was to invade Flanders in 1071 to become the new count (at that time the count was Adela's grandson, Arnulf III), she asked Phillip I to stop him. Phillip sent troops in order to aid Arnulf, being among the forces sent by the king a contingent of ten Norman knights led by William FitzOsborn. Robert's forces attacked Arnulf's numerically superior army at Cassel before it could organize, and Arnulf himself was killed along with William FitzOsborn. The overwhelming triumph of Robert made Phillip invest him with Flanders, making the peace. A year later, Phillip married Robert's stepdaughter, Bertha of Holland, and in 1074, Phillip restored the seigneurie of Corbie to the crown.

Church influence

Adèle had an especially great interest in Baldwin V’s church-reform politics and was behind her husband’s founding of several collegiate churches. Directly or indirectly, she was responsible for establishing the Colleges of Aire (1049), Lille (1050) and Harelbeke (1064) as well as the abbeys of Messines (1057) and Ename (1063). After Baldwin’s death in 1067, she went to Rome, took the nun’s veil from the hands of Pope Alexander II and retreated to the Benedictine convent of Messines, near Ypres. There she died, being buried at the same monastery. Her commemoration day is 8 September.


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