Adelaide, countess of Sicily

Adelaide, countess of Sicily




Curtis, Edmund (1912) Roger of Sicily and the Normans in Lower Italy 1016-1154. London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, pp. 100-102, 110-111.

"'The Great Count' was thrice married, first to the Norman Judith of Evreux, secondly to Ermenburg of Mortmain, thirdly (in 1189) to Adelaide, daughter of the Marquis Manfred and niece of Boniface del Vasto, lord of Savona. The latter bore to him two sons, Simon, born 1093, and Roger, born December 22, 1095. Of the previous marriages were born two elder sons, Geoffrey and Mauger, but their fate is obscure; the former at least retired to a monaster to hida gruesome disease; both apparently died before their father, or at least made no claim to succeed him. There was a bastard son also, Jordan, a gallant soldier, who died of fever in 1093. Numerous daughters were the result of the three marriages; among these one alone is notable, namely that Matilda who later married Rainulf of Avellino, the young Roger's deadliest opponent.
   The Bull conferring the Apostolic Legateship on Roger I. had named Simon as his heir. The succession of the wight-year-old boy was quietly secured by the firm will of his mother Adelaide, a clever and ambitious woman. It was no easy task for a woman to hold together the fabric of power which the Great Count had carefully built up, and maintain the skilful and delicate balance between creeds and races which was its foundation. The feudal vassals, swollen with the pride of their caste and full of orthodox contempt for both Greeks and Muslims, were the greatest danger to government and to toleration. The years of Adelaide's regency are obscure to a degree but it is clear that attempts were made by the barons to secure in the state a predominance which Roger I. had denied them. In later years Roger II. was reminded how, in his boyhood, the barons of Sicily and Calabria had joined hands in revolt, and after great bloodshed his mother had driven the enemy before her like potter's dust* [*This was in 1123, in a petition from the people of Castel Focero for the rebuilding of their castle; v. Caspar, Roger II. u. die Gr�ndung der normannisch-sicilischen Monarchie, p. 28]. What such an �meute protended is unknown, but that the Regent at least held the reins of authority with a firm hand, and at last handed over to her second son the undiminished authority of his father.
   Her success in keeping the balance of government was due to her confidence in the Greek and Arab elements. While Roger I. had remained to the end a Norman soldier keeping simple state in Mileto or Troina, she transferred the capital first to Messina and then to Palermo. In 1105 the count began the practive of residence in the old palace of the emirs amid the Moslem population of Palermo. For some years yet, however, Messina remained the seat of geovernment at least equally with Palermo...

   The Crusades had already made Sicily with its vigorous counts and central position a power to be considered by the crusdaing princes of the West and of Palestine. Circumstances seemed likely to make the connection a dynastic one. Towards the end of 1112, Baldwin, King of Jerusalem, poor and needy, sought the hand of Adelaide; he first repudiated his former wife and kept the fact hidden from the dowager Countess of Sicily. Adelaide accepted Baldwin's suit, but made him first promise that if there were no issue of their marriage Roger should succeed to the kingdom of Jerusalem. In August 1113, she sailed with large supplies of gold for Baldwin, and her fleet, entering into Ptolemais, was one of nine ships, 'gleaming with gold and silver and precious stones and purple sails, the masts being decked in pure gold which shone far in the sun.'
   In May, 1117, however, Adelaide returned to Sicily. Baldwin, having spent the treasure and finding no hope of a son, had, with the ready aid of Rome, divorced her. Within a year, she was dead and entombed at Patti, to which she had retired with her shame. Roger never forgave the blow to his pride, nor ceased to remember that Jerusalem might have been his."

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