Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adeliza of Louvain. Lady of The English. The Forgotten Queen.

I won't be writing a Medieval Monday this week as I've written this main blogpost about one of my female leads from the work in progress. The Empress Matilda shares the credits with her stepmother, Adeliza of Louvain in the new novel. While many readers probably know at least something about the Empress, Adeliza has been less in the public eye and is not well documented by history.

So what was she like, this second queen to Henry I? What's her story?

Adeliza was the daughter of Godrey of Louvain, duke of Lower Lotharingia - an area that is part of Belgium today - see the yellow area on the left of this map.
She was born around 1103, and married Henry I in January 1121 when she was about 18 years old.
Henry I's first wife, Matilda of Scotland, had died in 1118. Henry's reputation for begetting children was fearsome and he had more than a score of bastards to his name, but only two legitimate children of his first queen. William Adelin, his son, was heir to the throne, and there was Matilda, his firstborn, who had gone in marriage to Germany as an eight year old child. William Adelin drowned in November 1120 when the White ship sank while leaving Barfleur harbour on a return journey from Normandy to England and Henry found himself without an heir other than Matilda, far away in Germany and now an Empress. Past historians have believed that Henry immediately set about finding a new queen on which to beget more heirs, but it has been proven that even before his son's death, he was in negotiations with Godfrey of Louvain for his daughter's hand.
The chroniclers say that Adeliza was beautiful. She was known as 'The Fair Maid of Brabant' She was descended from Charlemagne, and an alliance with her father's house also helped to strengthen Henry I's ties and policies with Germany. By early January 1121, Adeliza was on her way to England and a new life as its queen.
As Adeliza settled into life with Henry, he took her everywhere with him, probably in the hope that she would become pregnant. Henry had used his first queen to act as regent when he was absent from England, but Adeliza never took up any kind of political role. This is logical and understandable since by the time Henry married her, he had a very effective administrative system in operation and a strong justiciar in the form of Roger, Bishop of Salisbury. Also, since Adeliza was only 18, unaccustomed to England and Normandy, and inexperienced, there was no point in putting her to rule. Her duty was to Henry and to future heirs.
In the event, Adeliza did not become pregnant during the almost 15 years of their marriage. It appears to have been a source of great distress to her. She wrote to Hildebert of Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours for advice on this. We do not know what she said to him, but we do have his reply to her, where he says: 'If it has not been granted to you from Heaven that you should bear a child to the King of the English, in these (the poor) you will bring forth for the King of the Angels, with no damage to your modesty. Perhaps the lord has closed up your womb, so that you might adopt immortal is more blessed to be fertile in the spirit than the flesh.'
Although Adeliza took no major part in governing the country, she was, nevertheless present at several councils and played a symbolic role in the royal administration. Shortly before her marriage to King Henry, she was elected 'Lady of the English'. She also appeared with Henry at crown wearing ceremonies, including one on the day after her wedding and another the following Pentecost. She was perhaps the first queen entitled to a payment of 'Queen's Gold.' This was later to be an important part of the income of queens. It was a tax of an extra ten per cent on any fine to the crown over the value of ten marks. It was also owed on tax paid by the Jews.
The fine was standardised when Eleanor of Aquitaine became queen, but Adeliza is 'the first example of a queen receiving a proportion of a licence fine.'
Adeliza also had lands and revenues of her dowry and position as queen of England. She had revenues from Waltham and Queenhithe. (from which she donated 100 shillings to be given each year to Reading Abbey on the anniversary of Henry's death). She had estates in Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Middlesex, Gloucestershire and Devon. She had part of the royal estate at Berkeley and Henry gave her the entire county of Shropshire. She also held the rape of Arundel, including the castle. This and various other lands had not been held as dower by other queens, nor did they revert to the crown on her death, but were hereditary. She appears to have taken an active interest in the management of her lands, issuing orders for example, to the monks of Reading not to alienate any of her gifts to them. 'Aelidis dei gratia regina Edwardo abbati et toto conventui de Radingia, salutem. Audivi a quibusdam quod vultis ecclesiam de Stantona extra dominium vestrum et manum ponere. Quare mando vobis quod nolo ut illam vel aliquod de elemosina mea extra manum vestram ponatis. Teste Reinaldo de Windresores Apud Arondell.' Adeliza was also a concerned sponsor and benefactor of friends and relations. Her brother Joscelin was her constable at Arundel and she gave him the barony of Petworth which was within the honour of Arundel and helped arange him a lucrative marriage. She also helped out her cousin Melisende with a marriage portion of land in Stanton Harcourt. We know that her domestic household seems to have been stable and long serving. Her chaplain was called Herman, her clerk Serlo, and her constable Godeschal.
Adeliza was concerned with religeous foundations and seems to have been devout. She founded a leper hospital at Wilton, and in her second marriage, there were also leper houses established at Arundel and Castle Rising. As well as corresponding with Hildebert of Lavardin, she was a close friend of Alexander, bishop of Lincoln, addressing him as 'amico Karissimo' in a charter. She gave donations to Waverley Abbey, Tintern, St. Mary's of Oseney, St. Mary of Eynsham, Waltham Abbey, the Templars, and Affligem Abbey in Brabant, where she was eventually to retire.
Adeliza appears to have been well educated and to have enjoyed literature and patronage of the written word. She comissioned an account of Henry's reign from a Scottish poet called David, to be set to music. Sadly this work no longer exists, which is a pity. If it was anything like William Marshal's Histoire, it would ahve been a fantastic insight into the period. Philippe de Thaon's Bestiary is dedicated to Adeliza
In her widowhood, she patronised the poet Serlo of Wilton.
When Henry died in 1135, Adeliza entered the nunnery at Wilton and dwelt there for a couple of years, more or less retiring from the world. She was still a young woman though, and when William D'Albini, lord of Buckenham in Norfolk came courting, she agreed to marry him. The D'Albini's were royal stewards and held a solid, important place at court, although they were not of the top rank. William D'Albini had supported Stephen for the throne when Henry died, rather than Henry's daughter Matilda. All the barons had sworn for Matilda during Henry's lifetime, but most were not disposed to welcome her as queen when it came to crunch time. Where Adeliza's sympathies lay is difficult to say, but she had spent a lot of time in Empress Matilda's company between 1125 and 1135, and had known her before that while Matilda was Empress of Germany. However, Adeliza's new husband was staunchly for Stephen.
In September 1139, about a year after Adeliza had married William D'Albini, the Empress prepared to come to England to further her claim to the throne. Stephen ordered a watch put on all the ports, but Matilda made instead for Arundel. Although not a port, it had a river connection with the sea and was close to the coast. Several chroniclers seem to think that Adeliza actually invited Matilda to come there. I think she probably did and used the tradition and sacred bond of kinship tie both as a pretext and a genuine reason. Adeliza was of a similar age to Matilda, but she was also her stepmother, and that gave her certain duties and obligations. One of the roles of a queen was that of peace-maker, so perhaps Adeliza thought she could lay the ground for some kind of peace deal between Stephen and Matilda. What her husband thought of all this is not reported, but he certainly went along with it, which suggests, given his otherwise loyalty to Stephen, that he was prepared to indulge his wife.
Stephen came to Arundel and the Empress was escorted from the castle to Bristol, and from there the war began in earnest, so as a cordial visit from kin and as a diplomatic exercise, Adeliza's ploy was something of a disaster.
Adeliza had been barren in her 15 year marriage to Henry I, but her union with William D'Albini proved the opposite and Adeliza suddenly discovered that she was very fecund indeed. Between 1139 and 1148, she bore seven children. Why she was so fertile with her second husband and not her first is a mystery and open to conjecture. Henry I was certainly not incapable even in his later years, and would have been keen to beget an heir if possible. It's one of history's and biology's puzzles. Adeliza and William's descendants include Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. The line still exists, although through various side-moves on the family tree. The descendants of Adeliza of Louvain and William D'Albini still own Castle Rising and Arundel Castle today.
William D'Albini was a great builder and once his funds and standing increased following his marriage to Adeliza, he embarked on a programme of construction and improvement. His most famous monument is that of Castle Rising in Norfolk where he built an entire castle and graced it with a magnificent entrance hall, rich external decoration based on Norwich Castle, and mod cons in the private chamber. Castle Rising is thought to be the first in the country with separate Ladies and Gents toilets! Having met Adeliza via my alternative research, I must say that when I read this in the conventional record, I burst out laughing because such a refinement was so typical of the Adeliza I am coming to know elsewhere!
Adeliza had always been devout, and when her child-bearing years were over, she retired, with her husband's consent, to the Benedictine convent at Afflighem and died there in 1151. Her body was borne to Reading Abbey, where she was buried as a queen beside Henry I. Her husband survived her by another twenty five years and did not remarry.
It has been fascinating piecing together the few known details about Adeliza and extrapolating awarenesses of her character from the information available.
Adeliza of Louvain: An overlooked Queen and 'Lady of the English.'

'O queen of the English, Adela, the very muse who prepares to call to mind your graces is frozen in wonder.' Henry of Huntingdon: The History of the English People

Castle Rising Castle, Norfolk

Close up of exterior detail

Entrance stairs.

Url to Wikipedia overview article on Arundel Castle

*Queens Consort by Lisa Hilton published by Weidenfelf & Nicolson

Other works consulted:

Adeliza of Louvain and Anglo Norman Queenship by Laura Wertheimer - Haskins Society Journal 7

The History of the English People 1000-1154 by Henry of Huntingdon - Oxford World Classics.

Picture at the top of the blog is an image from a 12thC bestiary.

Monday, January 25, 2010

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: Anglo-Norman Harmony!

I'm slowly preparing a post on Adeliza of Louvain who shares the credits with Empress Matilda in my work in progress. For now here is my usual Medieval Monday post. It's taken from the The Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Realm of England Commonly called Glanvill was written circa 1187 by an unknown man learned in the law of the land and the practices of the exchequer. It takes the form of a question and answer session between a master and pupil and is utterly fascinating. Look out for more quotes from this work in future Medieval Mondays.
Here's one showing that Normans and English in the higher echelons anyway, were getting it together.

Pupil: Does the secret death of an Englishman, like that of a Norman give rise to a murder fine?' Master: It did not do so originally, as I have told you. But nowadays, when English and Normans live close together and marry and give in marriage to each other, the nations are so mixed that it can scarcely be decided (I mean in the case of the freemen) who is of English birth and who of Norman; except of course, the villeins who cannot alter their condition without the leave of their masters. For that reason, whoever is found slain nowadays, the murder-fine is exacted, except in cases where there is definite proof of the servile condition of the victim.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MEDIEVAL MONDAY : Cats and dogs

In my personal domestic life, the Chadwicks are just about to obtain a new addition to the family. We already have one dog - Taz, as you may have seen from occasional glimpses around the blog, and from the photo above. He is to be joined in a few weeks by a Patterdale/Jack Russell cross puppy, as yet without a name, although I'm working on it. The little chap is still with his mother and currently about 5 weeks old. We won't be picking him up to bring home until Mid February.
Anyway, with this in mind, today's quote is short and sweet. It's from a 12th century Latin sermon by St Bernard of Clairveaux.

Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.

Basically Love me, love my dog.

On another note, here are a few medieval dog's names.

14thC France - a greyhound called Parceval and a lapdog called Dyamant (Diamond)
1400 England - Terri
1438 England - Jakke
1504 Switzerland - Artus (Arthur) Melesinn (Melusine) Venus, Fortuna, Furstli (Prince), Turgk, Soldan, Morli (Blackie basically) Dammast, Sattin, Stosel (Pestle. He was an apothecary's dog)
Hemmerli (little hammer, the locksmith's dog) and Speichli (little spoke the waggoner's dog). Nieman (Nobody).
1534 - Pourquoy (Why?).

Now onto cats.

Chez Chadwick we have a very elderly doddery cat. I thought he was on his way out a few days ago, but he has rallied and is still with us as I write this blog post. This is Jasper a few years ago, snoozing in his basket behind my chair.

Here's a quote from 13thC writer Bartholomew Anglicus on the matter of cats.

He [the cat] is a full lecherous beast in youth, swift, pliant, and merry, and leapeth and reseth on everything that is to fore him: and is led by a straw, and playeth therewith: and is a right heavy beast in age and full sleepy, and lieth slyly in wait for mice: and is aware where they be more by smell than by sight, and hunteth and reseth on them in privy places: and when he taketh a mouse, he playeth therewith, and eateth him after the play. In time of love is hard fighting for wives, and one scratcheth and rendeth the other grievously with biting and with claws. And he maketh a ruthful noise and ghastful, when one proffereth to fight with another: and unneth is hurt when he is thrown down off an high place. And when he hath a fair skin, he is as it were proud thereof, and goeth fast about: and when his skin is burnt, then he bideth at home; and is oft for his fair skin taken of the skinner, and slain and flayed.

I am sorry about the last line and I have covered Jasper's ears, but cats were valued for their skins in the medieval period. Common pedlars used to sell them door to door, as evidenced from this detail of a painting by Hieronymous Bosch titled The Wayfarer - see the outside of his basket. Catskins and lambskins were the only furs nuns were allowed to wear, as these were seen as being of low status. There's all sorts of interesting detail in this painting - some of it very down to earth!

Monday, January 11, 2010

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: London Winter Wonderland

Today's translation piece for Medieval Monday comes from William FitzStephen's description of Norman London, written some time before the year 1183. FitzStephen was an intimate of Thomas Becket and a witness to his murder. His description of London is part of an introduction to his biography of Becket.

The UK weather being what it is just now, I thought I'd select an upbeat piece on what Londoners would have been doing 900 years ago.
The Illustration isn't winter London, but serves as motif and I like the atmosphere. It's from a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder titled Winter Landscape with Skaters and a Bird Trap.

"In winter on almost every feast day before dinner either foaming boars and hogs, armed with tusks lightning swift, themselves soon to be bacon, fight for their lives, or fat bulls with butting horns, or huge bears, do combat to the death against hounds let loose upon them.

When the great marsh that washes the Northern walls of the City is frozen, dense throngs of youths go forth to disport themselves upon the ice. Some gathering speed by a run, glide sidelong, with feet set well apart, over a vast space of ice. Others make themselves seats of ice like millstones and are dragged along by a number who run before them holding hands. Sometimes they slip owing to the greatness of their speed and fall, every one of them, upon their faces. Others there are, more skilled to sport upon the ice, who fit to their feet the shinbones of beasts, lashing them beneath their ankles, and with iron-shod poles in their hands they strike ever and anon against the ice and are borne along swift as a bird in flight or a bolt shot from a mangonel. But sometimes two by agreement run one against the other from a great distance and, raising their poles, strike one another. One or both fall, not without bodily hurt, since on falling they are borne a long way in opposite directions by the force of their own motion; and wherever the ice touches the head, it scrapes and skins it entirely. Often he that falls breaks shin or arm, if he fall upon it."

Bone ice skate from the Museum of London.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Recent books added to the research shelves.

I thought it was time to post about what I've recently been buying for my research shelves.
As usual, it's an eclectic mix of what has taken my fancy and what I need for my current novel where the credits are jointly shared by the Empress Matilda and Queen Adeliza of Louvain. Sorry about the space formatting as usual!

First up is Lisa Hilton's Queen's Consort: England's Medieval Queens. This is a useful book giving concise overviews starting with Matilda of Flanders and ending at Elizabeth of York. I bought it mainly for Adeliza and with the awareness that other sections will always come in useful as an off the shelf reference for work and leisure.

Next, an excellent biography of Henry I by Judith A. Green. I also have Hollister's huge work on my shelf, but if anything, the Green feels better in assessment to me. However, the more viewpoints the merrier and this one's a goodie.

Queen Adeliza and her predecessor were great
patrons of Medieval leper houses and hospitals.
Adeliza retired to the nunnery of Wilton after the
death of Henry I for a while at least, where she sponsored a leper hospital. I wanted
to know more about this disease and medieval
attitudes to the same. Carol Rawcliffe's book Leprosy
in Medieval England is an excellent addition to
my bookshelves.

Now for another Judith A. Green:
The Aristocracy of Norman England which does
more or less as it says on the tin. Takes you through
this troublesome ruling class and attempts to look at
what makes them tick. I haven't read it yet, but it's
waiting its moment

I picked up Medieval Dress & Fashion by
Margaret Scott from the British Library.
It's one of those sumptious coffee table
books that's good for bedtime browsing when
you've run out of an intellectual capacity for
words but still want to be educated.

The surprise find of late last year. A fine, fine biography
of King Stephen's brother, Henry of Blois, Bishop of
Winchester, wannabee but never was Archbishop of Canterbury, Papal Legate and collector of pagan Roman
statues. This is published by Publish America, not an
Academic Press. To be brutally honest, it could benefit
from an editor too - but only with a light touch. It's not
horrendous by any manner of means. As well as an
erudite assessment of the bishop, the author has provided
masses of chronicle and charter material, all translated
into English, and an extensive bibliography. From my
admittedly not academic viewpoint, this holds its own with any popular academic work and is a darned sight better than certain ones I'm not going to mention!

Then comes Kate Norgate's England Under the Angevin
Kings. Some of the research is a bit dated in this one now, but since it was published in 1887 that's not to be wondered at. However, it reads well and it's still a solid piece of study and a useful work to have on the shelf.

Lastly, but not leastly, and as a grand finale, I am the proud owner of this one because it's
a present from my lovely, generous author friend Sharon
Kay Penman. She's beein delving into this one while
researching her novel on Richard the Lionheart, and thought
I would like a copy too. She was certainly right - Thank you
Sharon! This one is next up on my reading pile once I'm
done with leprosy!

Monday, January 04, 2010

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: The poisoned pen of Gerald of Wales

Today's excerpt is from the preface to Gerald of Wales' The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales, another work from which I will often be quoting because it is so fascinating.
Gerald was born at Manorbier in Wales and was of Normo/Welsh extraction. There's an excellent page on Wikipedia about his background
From what I have observed of Gerald, he was a tad self-important and nurtured grudges that he tended to pay back in pen and ink, thus fixing his opinions of certain people for future generations to read. After he was passed over for the bishopric of Saint David's, his ire turned upon the royal House of Anjou where he had served as a court chaplain and diplomat for many years.

'Since, among so many different sorts and conditions of men, my own particular choice is the pursuit of letters, by which I hope to please generations yet unborn. Life here below lasts a brief moment and is always in a state of flux. It is then, a pleasant thought that one's name will live for ever and that, having won the right to eternal fame, one will always be praised and honoured. It is a sure indication of an elevated mind to strive to achieve something which, even if it produces only hostility in this life, will ensure one's lasting glory after death.... I completely wasted my time when I wrote my Topography of Ireland for Henry II, King of the English, and the companion volume, my Vaticinal History, for Richard of Poitou, his son, and successor in vice, although I would prefer not to have to say it. But these princes had little or no interest in literature, and both were preoccupied with other matters.'

I was always under the impression that Henry II, at least, was a devotee of the written word, and I detect a decidedly miffed tone here! Gerald I suspect, was suffering from rejection letter syndrome. Henry II might have enjoyed reading, but Gerald of Wales wasn't one of their favourite authors!

Before next Medieval Monday, I hope to have a blog post up showing off my latest research work buys!