Adelaide of Susa

Adelaide of Susa
Adelaide of Susa

Adelaide of Susa (also Adelheid, Adelais, or Adeline; ca. 1014/1020 – 19 December 1091[1]) was the Marchioness of Turin from 1034 to her death. She moved the seat of the march from Turin to Susa and settled the itinerant court there. She was the last of the Arduinici.



Born in Turin to Ulric Manfred II and Bertha, daughter of Oberto II around 1014/1020, Adelaide's early life is not well known. Her only brother predeceased her father in 1034, though she had two younger sisters, Immilla and Bertha. Thus, on Ulric's death, the great margraviate was divided between his three daughters, though the greatest part by far went to Adelaide. She received the counties of Ivrea, Auriate, Aosta, and Turin. The margravial title, however, had primarily a military purpose at the time and, thus, was not considered suitable for a woman.

Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor, therefore arranged a marriage between Adelaide and Herman IV, Duke of Swabia, to serve as margrave of Turin after Ulric's death (1034). The two were married in January 1037, but Herman died of the plague while fighting at Naples in July 1038.[2]

Adelaide remarried in order to secure her vast march to Henry of Montferrat (1041), but he died in 1045 and left her a widow for the second time. Immediately, a third marriage was undertaken, this time to Otto of Savoy (1046). With Otto she had three sons, Peter I, Amadeus II, and Otto. She also had two daughters, Bertha and Adelaide. Bertha, the countess of Maurienne, married the Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor, while Adelaide married Rudolf of Rheinfeld, who opposed Henry as King of Germany.

After 1060, Adelaide acted as regent for her sons. In 1068, Henry tried to divorce Bertha and consequently drove Adelaide to an intense hatred of him and his family. However, through the intervention of Bertha, Henry received Adelaide's support when he came to Italy to submit to Pope Gregory VII and Matilda of Tuscany at Canossa. Adelaide and Amadeus accompanied the humiliated emperor to Canossa. In gratitude for her mediation, Henry donated Bugey to Adelaide and her family and took back Bertha as his wife, returning to Germany.

Adelaide later played the mediator between her two royal sons-in-law, Henry and the aforementioned Rudolf during the wars of the 1080s in Germany. She was an opponent of the Gregorian reform, though she honoured the papacy, and defender of the autonomy of abbacies.

In 1091, Adelaide died, to the general mourning of her people, and was buried in the parochial church of Canischio (Canisculum), a small village on the Cuorgnè in the Valle dell'Orco, to which she had retired in her later years.[3] In the cathedral of Susa, in a niche in the wall, there is a statue of walnut wood, beneath a bronze veneer, representing Adelaide, genuflecting in prayer. Above it can be read the inscription: Questa è Adelaide, cui l'istessa Roma Cole, e primo d'Ausonia onor la noma.


Adelaide had passed her childhood amongst the retainers of her father and had even learned the martial arts when young, bearing her own arms and armour. She was reputed to be beautiful and virtuous. She was pious, putting eternal things ahead of temporal. Strong in temperament, she did not hesitate to punish even the bishops and grandees of her realm. She patronised the minstrels and always received them at her court, urging them to compose songs emphasising religious values. She was a founder of cloisters and monasteries that transmitted the history of the region. One failure of Adelaide's career was the loss of the County of Albon.


Adelaide and Herman IV, Duke of Swabia had at least three children:

  • Gebhard I, Count of Sulzbach
  • Adalbert I, Count of Windberg
  • Adelaide, married Hermann von Peugen

Adelaide and Otto of Savoy had five children:


  1. ^ Also given as 27 December.[1]
  2. ^ Herman is stated to have died after eighteen months of matrimony in July 1038.[2]
  3. ^ Her burial is also placed in the former abbey church of San Giusto, Susa, now Susa Cathedral, or in Turin Cathedral[3].

External links

Preceded by
Ulric Manfred II
Marchioness of Turin and Susa
Succeeded by
Otto I

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