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Adeliza of Louvain

Adeliza of Louvain was born in around 1103, as the eldest child of Godfrey I, Duke of Lower Lorraine, Count of Brussels and Louvain and Ida of Chiny.

In 1121, Adeliza left Lower Lorraine, which is in modern day Belgium, and travelled to England where she was going to marry Henry I. She was eighteen to his fifty-three, but it was an advantageous marriage. Henry was the father-in-law of the Holy Roman Emperor, Heinrich V, through his marriage to Henry's only daughter, Matilda. It gave her father Godfrey key political connections, and Adeliza a chance to wear a crown. Henry's wife Edith (aka Matilda of Scotland) had died in 1118, but he only chose to remarry as a result of his only legitimate son dying when the White Ship sank in 1121.

Adeliza's time as Queen was very different to Edith's. Edith had been given a political role, acting as regent to Henry I, and witnessing charters. Adeliza was with Henry constantly but never had a political role. After ruling for twenty-one years, Henry had an effective governing system and Adeliza was only eighteen, young, untried and inexperienced in having a political role or position. Furthermore, the main reason of the marriage was to give England an heir. In this sense, the marriage was a complete failure. Adeliza did not become pregnant in their marriage of almost fifteen years, although she did go on to have seven children with her next husband.

While Adeliza didn't have a direct role in governing, she was present at some councils. However, like Edith of Scotland, Matilda of Flanders and some of their predecessors Adeliza was a patron of Arts, particularly French Poetry. During her time as Queen, Adeliza founded a lepers hospital at Wilton, and was known to be very devout while looking after her estates in Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Middlesex, Gloucestershire and Devon. Her reign was seen as a failure; her requirement as Queen was to give England an heir and she failed, sending her into the footnotes of history.

When Henry died in 1135, the throne became contested, and it was now that Adeliza played a key role. She had known the Empress Matilda in her youth in Germany, and they were around the same age. It is unknown if they were close, but they also would have spent a large amount of time together between 1125 to Henry's death, when Matilda returned from Germany. After Henry's death, Adeliza retired to Wilton Abbey for a few years (where her predecessor had been brought up), but since she was still relatively young, when William d'Aubigny began courting her, and she accepted his offer of marriage. William wasn't a particularly high ranking Nobleman in England, but he was loyal to King Stephen. The next year (1139) Adeliza received Matilda at Arundel Castle, on the Sussex coast. This was a key event for Matilda, as it allowed her a foothold in England, and a safe place to land and to start her war from. Given that William's loyalty to Stephen, it is clear that this was Adeliza's doing.

However, Adeliza had bitten off more than she could chew when Stephen then arrived and began to besiege the castle. Adeliza appealed to Stephen, and became an effective peacemaker. Stephen escorted Matilda to Bristol Castle, and there was no reprimand to Adeliza or William. From Bristol Castle, Matilda would begin her war in earnest, but it was Adeliza who gave Matilda that foothold, allowed her to begin the Anarchy.

In 1139, Adeliza had her first child, and would go on to have seven in nine years:

Alice d'Aubigny

William d'Aubigny

Olivia d'Aubigny (died young)

Reynor d'Aubigny

Geoffrey d'Aubigny

Henry d'Aubigny

Agatha d'Aubigny (died young)

Adeliza seemed to be content with William, and they spent most of their marriage at Arundel Castle, until 1150, when Adeliza left William by choice to go to Afflighem Monastery in Flanders, where she died the next year. Her burial site is unknown, but it is possibly at Reading Abbey with Henry I.

So Adeliza was a Queen of England with little influence or power, but she did act when it counted, and did know the potential that her position as Queen and Queen Dowager held.