Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Adelaide of Burgundy

[Saint Adelaide of Bugundy]Article

(Adelheid) Born 931; died 16 December 999, one of the conspicuous characters in the struggle of Otho the great to obtain the imperial crown from the Roman Pontiffs. She was the daughter of Rudolph II, King of Burgundy, who was at war with Hugh of Provence for the crown of Italy. The rivals concluded a peace in 933, by which it was stipulated that Adelaide should marry Hugh’s son Lothaire. The marriage took place, however, only fourteen years later; Adelaide’s mother meantime married Hugh. By this time Berengarius, the Marquis of Ivrea, came upon the scene, claiming the Kingdom of Italy for himself. He forced Hugh to abdicate in favour of Lothaire, and is supposed to have afterwards put Lothaire to death by poison. He then proposed to unite Adelaide in marriage with his son, Adalbert. Refusing the offer, Adelaide was kept in almost solitary captivity, in the Castle of Garda, on the lake of that name. From it she was rescued by a priest named Martin, who dug a subterraneous passage, by which she escaped, and remained concealed in the woods, her rescuer supporting her, meantime, by the fish he caught in the lake. Soon, however, the Duke of Canossa, Alberto Uzzo, who had been advised of the rescue, arrived and carried her off to his castle. While this was going on the Italian nobles, weary of Berengarius, had invited Otho to invade Italy. He met with little resistance, and betook himself to Canossa where he met Adelaide, and married her on Christmas day, 951, at Pavia. This marriage gave Otho no new rights over Italy, but the enthusiasm of the people for Adelaide, whose career had been so romantic, appealed to them and made Otho’s work of subjugating the peninsula easy. In Germany she was the idol of her subjects, while her husband lived. During the reign of her son Otho II, her troubles began, chiefly owing to the jealousy of her daughter-in-law, Theophano, and possibly also because of her excessive liberality in her works of charity. It resulted in her withdrawing from court and fixing her residence at Pavia, but a reconciliation was effected by the Abbot of Cluny, St. Mayeul. The same troubles broke out when her grandson came to the throne, the jealous daughter-in-law being yet unreconciled, and Adelaide was again forced into seclusion. But Theophano dying suddenly, Adelaide was recalled to assume the burden of a Regency. Her administration was characterized by the greatest wisdom. She took no revenge upon her enemies; her court was like a religious house; she multiplied monasteries and churches in the various provinces, and was incessant in her efforts to convert the pagans of the North. In the last year of her reign she undertook a journey to Burgundy to reconcile her nephew Rudolph with his subjects, but died on the way at Seltz, in Alsace. She is not mentioned in the Roman martyrology, but her name appears in several calendars of Germany, and her relics are enshrined in Hanover. St. Odilo of Cluny wrote her life.

MLA Citation

  • Thomas Campbell. “Saint Adelaide”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. Saints.SQPN.com. 22 July 2013. Web. 16 April 2014. <>