This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16 -- Feast of Saint Adelaide of Lots of Places

Adelaide of Burgundy, Italy, & HRE
Saint Majolus of Cluny
Adelaide is one of those queens about whom a trilogy of movies could be made.  Or one monumental biopic, like Gandhi or Malcolm X. As you look at this list of events in her life, consider the cinematic possibilities. 

I.  She was born to King Rudolf II of Burgundy and Bertha of Swabia.  At the time, Rudolf and Hugh of Provence had a running feud, so they betrothed their infant children to patch things up.  Young Lothair II, King of Italy, was probably no more than twenty when he married the fifteen year-old Adelaide.  Together, they had a daughter named Emma before Berengar of Ivrea poisoned Lothair and claimed the throne of Italy. 

II.  Berengar invited the grieving widow to marry his son, Adalbert.  In time, Adalbert would inherit Daddy's crown, which would mean that Adelaide would become queen of Italy again some day.  When she took a pass, Daddylbert took her prisoner.  She was held for four months and treated roughly, though what that means in a modern context is unclear.  Rough treatment for some royals amounts to nothing more than plain food, contemptuous guards, and infrequent access to hygiene.  For others, it might be rape, torture, and the constant threat of death.  She busted out and took refuge with her late husband's vassal (Adalbert Azzo of Canossa, whom she later elevated to the title Count Sine Re). 

III.  Daddylbert besieged Adalbert Azzo, but Otto the Great, the future Holy Roman Emperor, rode to her rescue. He rescued her, they got married, and eleven years later, they were crowned as Emperor and Empress.  Liudolf, Otto's son by a first marriage, recognizing that Pop's new wife might produce rival heirs, rebelled.  Liudy was crushed, which put Adelaide into a better position; she retained all her inherited lands and her children were the undisputed heirs of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Imperial Couple had four children:  Henry, Bruno, Mathilda, and Otto II. 

IV.  Otto II succeeded his dad, but neither he nor his wife Theophano welcomed Adelaide's advice about the management of their empire.  She was exiled for a while, but then Abbot Majolus of Cluny and King Conrad of Burgundy (Adelaide's brother), brokered a reconciliation.  Otto's death brought young Otto III to the throne, with his mother and grandmother as co-regents.  That didn't last long before Theophano sent her mother-in-law back into exile.  Theophano's death resulted in Adelaide's return as sole regent until Otto3's majority. 

V. Her final years were nearly free of politics.  She was a great benefactor to monasteries, retiring to one she had founded in Alsace.   But she got word that her nephew, King Rudolf III of Burgundy, was facing a rebellion.  She immediately set out to support him, but died en route, on December 16, 999. A confident millennialist, she had no doubt that she'd only repose for a few weeks before the Second Coming and the Judgment Day.  (Great closing line in there somewhere, hopefully referring back to some early comment about the advantage of living in the tenth century.) 

I think Oscar likes the single biopic rather than the trilogy: costume, cinematography, best actress, best supporting actor (Abbot Majolus as the spiritual counselor in her darkest times), original screenplay, musical score... And that's just the Academy.  Cannes, Golden Globes, People's Choice -- how can studios continue to ignore someone as cinemagenic (yeah, it's a word, as of right now)  as Adelaide?

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