This is a guest article by Meghan.
Since this is a site dedicated to the roles of women associated with female royals, I thought we’d discuss what was expected of them in the different eras, how they were married off, and even though men thought of women as the “weaker” sex, these women had vast amounts of wealth carrying them through, granted that they were married to the right people and they would use it to gain alliances and rise up in the ranks over the years to become very notable houses to the crown.
As an American, I wasn’t taught anything about the royals and their courts in Europe or Asia. It’s only recently becoming an obsession to learn more about them. I ask multiple questions about how one would be able to get a royal title of “Duke” or “Count”, but with more research, I started to realise it differs with different time periods. The meanings of reasons why a person was given the peerage of “Duke,” “Marquess,” “Earl,” and “Viscount” has totally changed from what it was in medieval times.
Our first heiress is Adelaide-Blanche of Anjou. She was born in 940, and at this time she lived in an area of France that didn’t belong to the crown yet. She was the daughter of Fulk II, Count of Anjou (also known as “The Good”) and Gerberga. If you’re wondering what is the meaning of a “count” in the best way I can explain it, they’re like landlords to the people of the community.¹ They were in charge of collecting taxes and raising armies for the king. She was of the third generation of the Angevin dynasty as her great-grandfather had created the Angevin dynasty sometime before his death in 888.
The reason why I wanted to talk about Adelaide-Blanche, is because she is known to have married (possibly) five times in her life. Now, why was she married off that many times? They could have been arranged marriages.² Back in the middle ages, it was very unheard of to get married for love, this was a better way to go if you wanted a better life, and this goes for both the bride and her husband. There were two notable ways this was conducted, you have an exchange marriage, where one spouse would move away from their family home and live somewhere else. And then there was a diplomatic arrangement, and this means that they were brought together for political reasons like alliances and even sometimes money. Daughters often came with a dowry, and this was either an estate or money that was given to their husbands to secure them.
Adelaide-Blanche married her first husband Stephen, Viscount Geravdan and he governed about four territories and they had a total of four children. After Stephen died, she married Raymond, Count of Toulouse and they had one child together. Later she married Louis, King of Aquitaine which upped her status from Viscountess, Countess to finally a Queen; unfortunately, the marriage wasn’t a happy one and was eventually annulled; there were no children produced as they weren’t together for very long. Her fourth marriage was to William I, Count of Provence and they had four children too. Earlier, I said that she could have been married five times, but there isn’t enough proof to show another one took place.
Since she was married to four successful and rich men and had children with them, she, herself had substantiated a large amount of wealth and for lack of a better phrase, did what she was supposed to do when it came to women in this period. She died in 1026.