The Creation of a Crone: The Historical Reputation of Adelaide of Maurienne

  • Lois L. Huneycutt
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


William Dugdale, the seventeenth-century compiler of the histories of English monasteries and families, related a truly marvelous tale involving two widowed queens in his Baronage of England, published in 1675–76. As Dugdale told it, the dowager queen of France, Adelaide of Maurienne (d. 1154), widow of Louis VI (r. 1108–27), was enamored of a certain knight and pondered how she could marry him without losing status. She decided to hold a great tournament in Paris, believing that if her champion were to carry the day, she could take him as her new husband without shame. But at the tournament, she watched as a young knight from England, William de Albini, won the major prize of the day. Evidently forgetting her first knight entirely, Adelaide was seized with a burning lust for William. She summoned him to a banquet, presented him with many rich gifts, and asked him to become her second husband. Unfortunately for her, William announced that he was already betrothed to Adeliza of Louvain (d. 1151), widow of King Henry I of England (r. 1100–35). The outraged Adelaide, in consultation with her ladies, arranged to have William brought into her garden where she pushed him deep into a cave. Inside the cave was a fierce and hungry lion that was undoubtedly expected to put a quick end to the impudent knight. But William bravely thrust his fist directly into the lion’s mouth and down its throat, managing to kill the beast and extract its tongue with his bare hands. Forever known as “William Strong-Arm,” de Albini did marry the widowed Queen Adeliza, and it appears they managed to live out their lives untroubled by advances from the thoroughly humiliated dowager queen of France.1


Modern Historian Reform Papacy French Court French Counterpart Royal Charter 
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© Kathleen Nolan 2003

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  • Lois L. Huneycutt

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