Adeliza of Louvain – The Fair Maid of Brabant

(public domain)

Adeliza of Louvain was born circa 1103 as the daughter of Godfrey, Count of Louvain and his first wife, Ida of Namur.

We don’t know what kind of education she received, but we know that she was skilled in embroidery as she made a standard for her father in silk and gold. She was described by her contemporaries as “the fair maid of Brabant” and “a maiden of great beauty and modesty.”

She was chosen as a bride for King Henry I of England, who was a widower who had lost his only legitimate son in the White Ship disaster. The 18-year-old Adeliza arrived in England in January 1121 to marry the 52-year-old King of England. They married at Windsor on 24 January 1121, and she was crowned Queen of England the very next day.

The age gap must have been difficult for Adeliza, but she attempted to share in his interests. She spent much time travelling with Henry, to have as many opportunities as possible to get pregnant. This stopped around 1131 when they probably realised that it wasn’t going to happen. She even wrote to a churchman for advice and comfort relating to their childlessness.

Adeliza had a very limited political role as Queen of England. She was never made regent but was present at several councils. She was known to be present when Henry named his daughter Matilda as his heir.

She was widowed on 1 December 1135. She was not with him when he died, but she did attend the burial at Reading Abbey on Christmas day. She retired from court and moved to Arundel Castle in Sussex.

Around 1139, Adeliza married again to William d’Aubigny, a royal butler. It was probably a love match, and they went on to have at least seven children. William supported King Stephen throughout the anarchy while Adeliza offered her stepdaughter Mathilda Arundel as a base from which to establish her claim to the throne. It is unclear if she had further contact with Mathilda.

By 1150, Adeliza had retired to the monastery of Affligem in Flanders, and she was most likely already in ill health. She died there on 24 March 1151. It is unclear where she is buried exactly. Some say she was interred next to Henry I in Reading Abbey while others say she was buried in Affligem Abbey. Affligem Abbey has her mentioned on a tombstone, while not much remains of Reading Abbey.1

  1. Elizabeth Norton – England’s Queens from Boudica to Elizabeth of York (US & UK)

About Moniek Bloks 2127 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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