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Emma of Italy (948–after 990)

Emma of Italy (948–after 990)

Queen of France. Name variations: Emma of France; Emme. Born in 948 in Italy; died after 990 in France; daughter of Adelaide of Burgundy (931–999) and Lothair (Lothar), king of Italy; stepdaughter of Otto I the Great, king of Germany (r. 936–973), Holy Roman emperor (r. 962–973); married Lothair or Lothaire (941–986), king of France (r. 954–986), around 966; children: at least two sons, Louis V (c. 967–987), king of France (r. 986–987); Otto, cleric at Rheims.

Mother of the last of the Carolingians, Emma was born into the royal house of Italy, the daughter of Adelaide of Burgundy and King Lothair of Italy. Around 966, she married Lothair, king of the West Franks, who had begun an aggressive policy of expansion in 956. Emma was an active participant in the administration of the Frankish realm and seemed to play an especially important role in Lothair's military campaigns. She accompanied him on various missions and took charge of the defense of Verdun after they had conquered it. Lothair's effort to gain Lorraine in 978 led to an invasion by Emperor Otto II who made it to the walls of Paris. When Hugh Capet took the side of Otto, the two successfully wiped away Lothair's rule at Laon.

Named regent for her young son Louis V after Lothair's death, Emma encountered considerable threat to her power from her husband's brother Charles of Lorraine, who wanted to rule. Among other schemes, Charles accused Emma of committing adultery with a bishop in order to cast doubt on Louis' legitimacy. Louis died young in 987, the last Carolingian ruler of France. He was succeeded by Hugh Capet, and Emma retired from political activism.

Laura York, Riverside, California

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