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Adeliza of Leuven

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Title: Adeliza of Leuven  
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Subject: 1151, Ralph d'Escures, William de Vere, William d'Aubigny, 3rd Earl of Arundel, Affligem Abbey, House of Reginar
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Adeliza of Leuven

Adeliza of Louvain
Queen consort of England
Tenure 24 January 1121 – 1 December 1135
Coronation 30 January 1121
Spouse Henry I of England
William d'Aubigny, 1st Earl of Arundel
William d'Aubigny, 2nd Earl of Arundel
Reynor d'Aubigny
Henry d'Aubigny
Alice, Countess of Eu
Olivia d'Aubigny
Agatha d'Aubigny
Geoffrey d'Aubigny
House House of Louvain
Father Godfrey I, Count of Louvain
Mother Ida of Namur[1]
Born c. 1103
Died 23 April 1151(1151-04-23) (aged 48)
Affligem Abbey, Brabant
Burial Affligem Abbey, Brabant

Adeliza of Louvain,[2] sometimes known in England as Adelicia of Louvain,[3] also called Adela and Aleidis; (c. 1103 – 23 April 1151) was queen consort of the Kingdom of England from 1121 to 1135, the second wife of Henry I.[4] She was the daughter of Godfrey I, Count of Louvain, Duke of Lower Lotharingia, Landgrave of Brabant and Count of Louvain and Brussels.


Adeliza married Henry I of England on 24 January 1121, when she is thought to have been in her late teens and Henry was fifty-three. It is believed that Henry only married again because he wanted a male heir. Despite holding the record for the most illegitimate children of a British monarch, Henry had only one legitimate son, William Adelin, who predeceased his father on 25 November 1120 in the White Ship disaster. It is usually assumed that Henry married Adeliza because of this disaster; however, negotiations to find a new wife began as early as 1119.[5]

Adeliza was reputedly quite pretty, known as the "Fair Maid of Brabant." More importantly, her father was a vassal of Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, son-in-law of Henry. It is possible that his daughter was influential in making the match. Godfrey was motivated to protect his lands from the newest Count of Flanders, Charles. As Flanders had been long-term enemies of the Normans, marrying his daughter to the English king aligned Godfrey with a natural ally.[6] Despite all these hopes, no children were born during the marriage.


Adeliza, unlike the other Anglo-Norman queens, played little part in the public life of the realm during her tenure as queen consort. Whether this was personal inclination or because Henry preferred to keep her nearby in the hope she'd conceive, is unknown. Although she did not produce the desired heir, she traveled extensively with Henry including several visits to Normandy. Adeliza also assumed her right as a patron of literature and several works, including a bestiary by Philip de Thaon that was dedicated to her. She is said to have commissioned a verse biography of King Henry; if she did, it is no longer extant. Henry also gave her extensive lands, some that belonged to Matilda of Scotland and others in Essex, Middlesex, and Gloucestershire.[7]

When Henry died on 1 December 1135, Adeliza retired temporarily to the Benedictine convent of Wilton Abbey, near Salisbury. She was present at the dedication of Henry's tomb at Reading Abbey on the first anniversary of his death. At about that time, she founded a leper hospital dedicated to Saint Giles at Fugglestone St Peter, Wiltshire.[8]

Second marriage

After three years of mourning, the young queen married William d'Aubigny, one of Henry's chief advisers, in 1138 for love. She brought with her a Queen's dowry, including the castle of Arundel that would serve as the couple's primary residence. Because of this, King Stephen of England created d'Aubigny Earl of Arundel in 1142 and Earl of Lincoln. The marriage produced at least seven children. Through this union, Adeliza is an ancestor of many English noble families and individuals such as:


Although her husband was a staunch supporter of Stephen during the Anglo-Norman civil war, her own personal inclination may have been toward her stepdaughter's cause, the Empress Matilda. When Matilda sailed to England in 1139, she appealed to her stepmother for shelter, landing near Arundel and was received as a guest of the former Queen.

Later life

Adeliza spent her final years in the abbey of Affligem (landgraviat of Brabant), which she richly rewarded with landed estates (three English villages called Ideswordam, Westmerendonam and Aldeswurda, probably near to Arundel).

She died in the abbey and was buried in the abbey church next to her father, Godfrey I, Count of Louvain, (d.1139). The abbey necrology situates her tombstone next to the clockwork. An 18th century floor plan of the church shows her tombstone located halfway up the left nave. Her grave was demolished however during the French Revolution (abt. 1798). Her bones had been found and she was reburied in the cloister of the re-erected Affligem abbey.


One of Adeliza's brothers, evidently illegitimate, Joscelin of Louvain, came to England and married Agnes de Percy, heiress of the Percy family.

Although it is clear that the former queen and Joscelin were very close, he was almost certainly an illegitimate son of Adeliza's father and thus her half-brother. His children took their name from their mother's lineage, and their descendants include the medieval Earls of Northumberland.

Adeliza also gave a dowry to one of her cousins when she married in England.


Five of Adeliza and William's children were to survive to adulthood:

Adeliza also became an active patron of the church during her second marriage, giving property to Reading Abbey in honour of her late husband and to several other smaller foundations.

Notes and sources

Adeliza of Louvain
Born: 1103 Died: 23 April 1151
English royalty
Title last held by
Matilda of Scotland
Queen consort of the English
24 January 1121 – 1 December 1135
Title next held by
Matilda I of Boulogne

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