[Adelaide of Savoy, 1839, Abel Hugo, Histoire générale de France depuis les temps les plus reculés jusqu'à nos jours: illustrée et expliquée par les Monumens de toutes les Epoques, source: Wikimedia Commons]
She was the daughter of Count Umberto II of Savoy and Gisela of Burgundy. When Louis VI, then 33, needed a bride of sufficient status to whom he wasn’t too closely related, he chose the 23-year-old Adelaide. The couple had at least eight children together, seven of whom were boys. With the succession secure, Adelaide knew she had a stable position within the court.
Part of the reason the Queen held such a powerful position was because the royal court and the royal household were one in the same. She was not seen as limited to the bedchamber in exercising her influence and could, therefore advise her husband publically. Adelaide spoke openly in policy debates and was listened to as respectfully as any other advisor. Her agreement to the King’s acts was recorded in several royal charters.
Adelaide did not retire to a monastery on her husband’s death as was expected of a widowed queen. She remained at court for several years, attempting to maintain her influence over the king’s decisions in a three-way power struggle with the new queen, Eleanor,* and her late husband’s advisor Abbot Suger. When she lost out here, she retired to her estates and did something entirely unusual for a dowager queen: she remarried before returning to court. She would never again hold the power she had during her reign, but she remained an active political figure until shortly before her death. In 1153, she finally retired to a monastery in Paris that she had supported throughout her life. She died and was buried there the next year at the age of 62.
*Adelaide and Eleanor did not get along. Apart from the whole issue of Eleanor taking Adelaide’s position with the death of Louis VI and their subsequent political rivalry, Adelaide found Eleanor too extravagant, while Eleanor presumably found Adelaide too restrained and, to use a modern term, stuffy.
Bradbury, Jim. The Capetians: The History of a Dynasty: Kings of France 987-1328. London: Continuum Books, 2007. [Note: this book may be found on Google Books here.]
Schaus, Margaret, ed. Women and Gender in Medieval Europe: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2006. [Note: this book may be found on Google Books here.]
Turner, Ralph V. Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England. Yale University Press, 2009. [Note: this book may be found on Google Books here.]
Adelaide of Maurienne - Wikipedia