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Bible Encyclopedias
Adelaide of Italy

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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Death (May 7, 973), Adelaide exercised for some years a controlling influence over her son, the new emperor, Otto II. The causes of their subsequent estrangement are obscure, but it was possibly due to the empress's lavish expenditure in charity and church building, which endeared her to ecclesiastics but was a serious drain on the imperial finances. In 978 she lef t the court and lived partly in Italy, partly with her brother Conrad, king of Burgundy, by whose mediation she was ultimately reconciled to her son. In 983, shortly before his death, she was appointed his viceroy in Italy; and was successful, in concert with the empress Theophano, widow of Otto II., and Archbishop Willigis of Mainz, in defending the right of her infant grandson, Otto III., to the German crown against the pretensions of Henry the Quarrelsome, duke of Bavaria. In June 984 the infant king was handed over by Henry to the care of the two empresses; but the masterful will of Theophano soon obtained the upper hand, and until the death of the Greek empress, on the 15th of June 991, Adelaide had no voice in German affairs. She now assumed the regency, in concert with Bishop Willigis and a council of princes of the Empire, and held it until in 995 Otto was declared of age. In 996 the young king went to Italy to receive the imperial crown; and from this date Adelaide ceased to concern herself with worldly affairs, but devoted herself to pious exercises, to intimate correspondence with the abbots Majolus and Odilo of Cluny, and the foundation of churches and religious houses. She died on the 17th of December 999, and was buried in the convent of SS. Peter and Paul, her favourite foundation, at Salz in Alsace. She was proclaimed a saint by the grateful German clergy; but her name has never found a place in the Roman calendar. Like her daughter-in-law Theophano and other exalted ladies of this period, Adelaide possessed considerable literary attainments (literatissima erat ), and her knowledge of Latin was of use to Otto I., who only learned the language late in life and remained to the end a poor scholar.

By the emperor Otto I. she had four children: Otto II. (d. 983), Mathilda, abbess of Quedlinburg (d. 999), Adelheid (Adelaide), abbess of Essen (d. 974), and Liutgard, who married Conrad II., duke of Franconia, and died in 955.

Adelaide's life (Vita or Epitaphium Adalheidae imperatricis ) was written by St Odilo of Cluny. It is valuable only for the latter years of the empress, after she had retired from any active share in the world's affairs. The rest of her life is merely outlined, though her adventures in escaping from Berengar are treated in more detail. The best edition is in Duchesne, Bibliotheca Cluniacensis, pp. 353362. See Giov. Batt. Semeria, Vita politico-religiose di s. Adeleida, &c. (Turin, 1842); Jul. Bentzinger, Das Leben der Kaiserin Adelheid. .. wcihrend der Regierung Ottos III., Inaug. Dissertation (Breslau, 1883); J. J. Dey, Hist. de s. Adelaide, eec. (Geneva, 1862); F. P. Wimmer, Kaiserin Adelheid, Gemahlin Ottos I. des Grossen (Regensb. 1889); Wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen (Stuttgart and Berlin, 1904). Further references in Chevalier, Repertoire des sources historiques (Paris, 1903).

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Adelaide of Italy'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​a/adelaide-of-italy.html. 1910.
 
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