MALE Adélaïde

Wife of Hugues Capet, king of France.

Adélaïde appears in several charters of her son Robert during the period 997 to 1003 [997: "... per deprecationem gloriosæ genetricis meæ Adelaidis reginæ, ... Actum Parisius regnante Roberto rege adolescentulo in anno secundo cum gloriosa matre sua Adelaide regina. S. Roberti regis. S. Adelaidis reginæ." RHF 10: 574 (#2); ibid., 574-5 (#3, 19 April 998), 575-6 (#4, ca. 999), 577 (#5, 26 October 999), 581 (#9, ca. 1003), 582 (#10, Easter 1003)]. She was evidently deceased in 1005, when Robert gave donations for the souls of his father Hugues and mother Adélaïde ["... pro remedio animæ pii genitoris nostri domini Hugoni regis, ac genetricis nostræ Adelaidæ reginæ, ..." ibid., 587 (#15)].

Date of birth: Unknown.
Given an estimate of about 940 for the birthdate of Hugues, a date in the 940's or early 950's would seem to be the most likely period for the birth of Adélaïde.
Place of birth: Unknown.

Date of death: 15 June 1003×5.
The date of 15 June is given by the necrologies of Saint-Denis ["XVII kal. Ob. ... Adelaidis regina ..." Obit. Sens, 1, pt. 1: 319], Argenteuil ["XVII kal. ... et Adelaidis regina" ibid., 347], and Saint-Magloire ["XVII cal. ... Adelaidis regina", ibid., 390].
Place of death: Unknown.

Probable father: Guillaume I (III) "Tête-d'Étoupe", d. 963, count of Poitou, duke of Aquitaine.
No definitive solution is possible on the known evidence, but this parentage is more likely than the alternatives. See the Commentary section for a detailed discussion of the parentage of Adélaïde.
Possible mother:
Gerloc/Adèle, daughter of Rollo of Normandy.
Given the lack of certainty about the identity of
Adélaïde's father, an additional degree of uncertainty with respect to her mother is natural. An otherwise unknown countess Alaina appears with Guillaume in 932×6 ["S. Willelmi comitis. S. Alainæ comitisse, quæ fuit monacha." Cart. S.-Cyprien, 28 (#23)], and Adèle appears with Guillaume in February 942 in a donation to the abbey of Noaillé [Richard (1903), 2: 461-2]. The latter would seem to be a more likely chronological fit for the mother of Adélaïde.

Spouse: Hugues Capet, d. 23×25 October 996, king of France.
In addition to the charters mentioned above, Adélaïde is named as the mother of king Robert II by Helgaud ["... fuit rex Francorum Rotbertus origine natus nobilissima, patre illustri Hugone, matre Adhelaide vocitata, ..." Helgaud, Vita Roberti regis, RHF 10: 99].

Robert II is the only child of Hugues Capet who is directly documented as a child of Adélaïde. The connection of the others has been generally assumed on the basis that Adélaïde is the only known wife of Hugues. See the page of Hugues for further details.

MALE Robert II, d. 20 July 1031, king of France, 996-1031;
m. (1) Rozala Susanna, d. 1003,
daughter of Berengario II, king of Italy, widow of Arnulf II, count of Flanders.
m. (2) Berthe, d. 16 January after 1010, daughter of Conrad, king of Burgundy, widow of Eudes I, count of Blois.
m. (3) Constance, d. 22 July 1034,
daughter of Guillaume, count of Provence.

FEMALE Hedwig/Avoise; m Regnier IV, count of Hainaut [said to have m. (2) 1033, Hugues III, count of Dagsburg].

FEMALE Gisèle, m. Hugues I, lord of Abbeville, advocate of Saint-Riquier, ancestor of the counts of Ponthieu.


The parentage of Adélaïde

The theory that Adélaïde was a daughter of Guillaume I(III) Tête-d'Étoupe of Poitou and Aquitaine was argued in the late nineteenth century by Ferdinand Lot [Lot (1891), 358-361] and René Merlet [Merlet (1895), 247, 254-5], and more recently by Christian Settipani [Settipani (1993), 415-9]. On the other side, Constance Bouchard has been a vocal opponent of an origin of Adélaïde in Aquitaine [Bouchard (1981), 274, n. 17; Bouchard (1988), 17, n. 28; Bouchard (2001), 111-4, 152-3]. The main pieces of evidence which have been seen as bearing on the origin of Adélaïde are the following:

How was Guillaume III of Poitou (V of Aquitaine) related to Robert II of France?

The first two items on the above list both state a relationship between king Robert II of France and a Guillaume who is easily identified as Guillaume III "le Grand", count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine (as Guillaume V) from 993 to 1030. Richer states that Guillaume was a nepos of Robert, while the Bourgueil charter states that Guillaume was a consobrinus of Robert. The existence of two independent sources makes it clear that there was some relationship between Robert and Guillaume. For the sake of thoroughness, we should investigate whether this relationship could be explained in a way that does not involve Robert's mother. Constance Bouchard, evidently unaware of the Bourgueil charter, suggested that the relationship of nepos could be explained by the marriage of Robert to the widow of Guillaume's uncle, as in the following chart [Bouchard (1981), 274, n. 17].

The word nepos is occasionally extended beyond the usual meanings of "nephew" or "grandson" to include cousin relationships, but it is used for blood relationships, and a claimed usage of the term as indicated here needs to be backed up by examples showing that the term could be used in that way, something that was not done. Also, even though such an extension of "nephew" might look reasonable enough to modern eyes, it is difficult to see how the term consobrinus would extend in this way. This step-relationship is not a feasible explanation for the relationship between Robert and Guillaume.

Assuming that we are looking for a blood relationship, the question of whether Robert II was related to Guillaume III(V) by way of his father Hugues Capet is easily answered. Hugues and Guillaume were first cousins twice-removed (i.e., consanguinity degree 2:4), so that Robert and Guillaume were second-cousins once-removed (consanguinity 3:4). Furthermore, enough is known of the ancestries of Hugues Capet and Guillaume III(V) to be assured that there was no closer relationship between Hugues and Guillaume. This relationship is shown in the following table.

However, it is extremely unlikely that this known relationship can explain the words nepos and consobrinus which appear in the two sources. Both of these words suggest a relationship that is closer than that of second-cousin once-removed. The obvious conclusion is that these words were used to describe a relationship that came by way of Robert's mother Adélaïde.

This leads naturally to the Translatio sancti Maglorii, which states that Adélaïde was the daughter of a count of Poitou. If this is correct, Guillaume I(III) "Tête-d'Étoupe" is the only count of Poitou who would make a chronologically plausible father for Adélaïde. Merlet believed that the statement about Adélaïde was written as early as the late tenth century [Merlet (1895), 254, n. 4]. However, Lot showed that the Translatio sancti Maglorii was not composed earlier than the middle of the eleventh century, and that it was incorrect concerning a number of events in the tenth century [Lot (1899-1900), 65; the passage about Adélaïde is not mentioned in this article]. Thus, this statement on Adélaïde's parentage comes from a noncontemporary source of uncertain reliability. Nevertheless, the statement about Adélaïde from Translatio sancti Maglorii receives support from the independent evidence of Richer and the Bourgueil charter. Taken together, these sources suggest that Adélaïde was a daughter of Guillaume I(III) Tête-d'Étoupe, count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine.

What evidence is there against this relationship?

The strongest negative argument is that the assumption that Adélaïde was a daughter of Guillaume I(III) Tête-d'Étoupe would mean that the marriage between count/duke Guillaume VI(VIII) (Guy-Geoffroy) and his wife Hildegarde of Burgundy would be canonically illicit, with the husband and wife being related in degree 3:4 (second cousins, once-removed). This argument is not conclusive, because such consanguineous marriages did take place from time to time. We do not have to go far to find such an example, for Hildegarde's parents were related to an even closer degree (3:3, second-cousins). The following chart shows the 3:4 relationship between Guy-Geoffroy and Hildegarde which would be implied if Adélaïde was a daughter of Guillaume I(III) Tête-d'Étoupe, and the known 3:3 relationship of Hildegarde's parents.

What other conjectures have been made about the origin of Adélaïde?

Conjectured relatives: Berengario I and Berengario II, kings of Italy.
[Settipani (1993), 416, reporting work of Brière not seen by me] The presence of the name Gisèle among the daughters of Hugues Capet has been seen as a possible clue to the origins of Adélaïde, and might be used to support an Italian connection, since the name appears in the families of kings Berengario I and II of Italy. However, as pointed out by Settipani, there is no proof that Gisèle was a daughter of Hugues by his marriage to Adélaïde, so the clue might not even be relevant [ibid., 417; he also gives a conjectural path (5 generations back) of how the name Gisèle might have arrived via an alternate onomastic route (pp. 417-9)]. Robert II's father Hugues Capet is not known to have had any Italian ancestry. This has led to the interpretation of Helgaud's statement in Vita Roberti regis (see above) as implying an Italian origin for Adélaïde. Settipani suggests that it is a reference to ancient Italy and Rome [Settipani (1993), 417]. The poetic reference ("ab Ausoniæ partibus") would fit a vague claim of Roman descent, similar to the claims of the Franks to Trojan descent. Indeed, Helgaud's statement is too vague to be the firm basis of any conclusions, and there is certainly no reason to believe that it necessarily refers to the ancestry of Adélaïde. Thus, the evidence for an Italian origin for Adélaïde is slim.

Conjectured ancestor: Louis "the Blind", d. after 927, king of Provence and Italy, emperor.
Conjectured ancestor: Adélaïde, second wife of Louis.
This conjecture is based partly on onomastics and partly on bishop Adalbero's statement about Robert's imperial wetnurse (see above) [Bouchard (2001), 152-3]. Bouchard also gives the same descent to another Adélaïde, the wife succesively of count Lambert of Chalon and count Geoffroy Grisegonelle of Anjou.

How does the evidence balance out?

The main strength of the theory making Adélaïde a daughter of Guillaume I(III) Tête-d'Étoupe of Poitou and Aquitaine is that it has three independent strands of supporting evidence. The fact that one of these three items comes from a not always reliable source (Translatio sancti Maglorii) is mitigated by existence of the other two. The only evidence against this theory that has much weight is the consanguinity argument, for Helgaud and Adalbero are both so vague that even their relevance is not certain. The question here is whether or not the negative evidence is enough to overrule the otherwise reasonable positive evidence. The consanguinity argument still has the reasonable explanation that consanguineous marriages slipped through the system from time to time. In contrast, anyone wishing to argue against the Poitevin connection of Adélaïde is faced with explaining away the nepos and consobrinus relationships either as the above step-nephew or second cousin, one-removed relationships, or by making Adélaïde a relative of Guillaume III(V) in a way that denies the Poitevin connection (presumably via a hypothetical Blois connection for which there is no evidence). Thus, Adélaïde was probably the daughter of duke Guillaume I(III) "Tête-d'Étoupe" of Poitou and Aquitaine.


Bouchard (1981) = Constance Brittain Bouchard, "Consanguinity and Noble Marriages in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries", Speculum 56 (1981): 268-287.

Bouchard (1988) = Constance Brittain Bouchard, "Patterns of women's names in royal lineages, ninth-eleventh centuries", Medieval Prosopography 9, 1 (1988): 1-32.

Bouchard (2001) = Constance Brittain Bouchard, "Those of my Blood" Constructing Noble Families in Medieval Francia (Philadelphia, 2001).

Cart. S.-Cyprien = Cartulaire de l'Abbaye de Saint-Cyprien de Poiters (Archives historiques du Poitou 3, 1874).

Hückel (1901) = G.-A. Hückel, "Les poèmes satiriques d'Adalbéron", Bibliothèque de la Faculté des Lettres 13 (1901): 49-184.

Lewis (1981) = Andrew W. Lewis, Royal Succession in Capetian France: Studies on Familial Order and the State (Harvard University Press, 1981).

Lot (1891) = Ferdinand Lot, Les derniers Carolingiens (Paris, 1891).

Lot (1899-1900) = Ferdinand Lot, "Date de l'exode des corps saints hors de Bretagne", Annales de Bretagne 15 (1899-1900): 60-76.

Merlet (1895) = René Merlet, "Les origines du monastère de Saint-Magloire de Paris", Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes 56 (1895): 237-273.

MGH SS = Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores series.

Obit. Sens = Obituaires de la Province de Sens (2 vols. in 3, Paris, 1902-6).

Rec. actes Lothair & Louis V = Louis Halphen & Ferdinand Lot, eds., Recueil des actes de Lothaire et de Louis V rois de France (Paris, 1908).

RHF = Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France.

Richard (1903) = Alfred Richard, Histoire des comtes de Poitou 778-1204, 2 vols. (Paris, 1903).

Settipani (1993) = Christian Settipani, La préhistoire des Capétiens 481-987 (Première partie - Mérovingiens, Carolingiens et Robertiens) (Villeneuve d'Ascq, 1993).

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 26 July 2008.

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