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Adele of Champagne (1145–1206)

Adele of Champagne (1145–1206)

Queen of France whose son Philip II Augustus was one of the most important kings in the development of the French monarchy. Name variations: Adela or Adele of Blois; Alix or Alice of Champagne. Born in 1145 in Champagne; died in Paris in 1206; daughter of Count Theobald II of Champagne also known as Thibaut of Blois (who was the son of Adela of Blois ) and Maud Carinthia (c. 1105–1160); became third wife of Louis VII (1120–1180), king of France (r. 1137–1180), in 1160; children: Philip "Dieudonne" (b. August 21, 1165–1223), later Philip II Augustus, king of France (r. 1180–1123); Agnes-Anne of France (b. 1171).

In 1160, at age 15, Adele of Champagne was betrothed to King Louis VII of France. The marriage was Louis' third. His first wife was Eleanor of Aquitaine ; his second, Constance of Castile , had died giving birth to Alais of France in 1160. Since his first two wives had borne only girls, Louis needed a new queen to provide him with an heir. Adele's father, Theobald II of Champagne, a powerful feudal lord of France, was one of Louis' most rebellious vassals, and so Adele's marriage to Louis represented a sort of peace treaty between Theobald and the crown.

Five years later, to the joy of the French people and especially Louis, Adele gave birth to the long-awaited male heir, Philip II Augustus. For six generations, from the accession of Hugh Capet in 987, the Capetian dynasty had asserted royal power in France largely because of the unbroken and undisputed succession of male heirs. The great rejoicing and celebration that accompanied Philip's birth by Louis VII's third wife, Adela of Champagne, in 1165, expressed the promise that the Capetian monarchs would continue to rule France.

Though named Philip Augustus, the child was always called Philip "Dieu-Donne" ("God-given"). Adele did not share in the administration of government during Louis' reign, but after Louis died in 1180 she retained her title as queen and acted as ruler during Philip's minority. She proved to be a capable and energetic regent, handling the myriad royal responsibilities with political shrewdness, developed over her years as a member of two eminent feudal houses.

Maud Carinthia (c. 1105–1160)

Countess of Champagne and Blois. Name variations: Maud of Carinthia. Born around 1105; died in 1160; daughter of Inglebert II, duke of Carinthia, and Uta of Passau ; married Theobald II, count of Champagne and Blois, in 1123; children: Henry I (d. 1181), count of Champagne (who married Marie de Champagne ); Theobald V, count of Blois (who married Alice, Countess of Blois ); Stephen, count of Sancerre; William of Rheims, cardinal; Adele of Champagne (1145–1206).

Adele remained at court after Philip came of age, although her direct participation in government lessened. However, in 1190–91, Philip left France to join Richard I of England on the Third Crusade, and Philip appointed Adele to act as regent of the kingdom in his name, a tribute to his respect for her ability as a ruler. After Philip's return, Adele retired from politics. She died at the age of 61. Although it could not have been anticipated in 1165, her son not only continued the Capetian dynasty but also became one of the most important kings in the development of the French monarchy.


Kelly, Amy. Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1950.

Laura York , Anza, California

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