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Adèle of France, Countess of Flanders

Adèle of France, Countess of Flanders

Duchess consort of normandy and later countess consort of flanders
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Duchess consort of normandy and later countess consort of flanders
Occupations Politician
Gender female
Birth 1 January 1009
Death 8 January 1079 (Mesen, West Flanders, Flemish Region, Belgium)
Mother: Constance of Arles
Father: Robert II of France
Siblings: Henry I of FranceRobert IDuke of BurgundyHugh MagnusHedwig of FranceCountess of Nevers
Spouse: Baldwin V, Count of FlandersRichard III, Duke of Normandy
Children: Matilda of FlandersBaldwin VI, Count of FlandersRobert I, Count of Flanders
The details

Adela of France, known also as Adela the Holy or Adela of Messines; (1009 – 8 January 1079, Messines), was, by marriage, the Duchess of Normandy (January 1027 – August 1027), Countess of Flanders (1035–1067).


Adela was the second daughter of Robert II (the Pious), and Constance of Arles. She is usually identified with the noble Adèle who in January 1027 married Richard III, Duke of Normandy. The marriage was short-lived for on 6 August of that same year Richard III suddenly died. This identification, however, is incorrect, as Adèle of France was sent in infancy to be raised in the Flanders court. Adèle France married Baldwin V, Count of Flanders in 1028.

Adela's influence lay mainly through her family connections. On the death of her brother, Henry I of France, the guardianship of his seven-year-old son Philip I fell jointly on his widow, Anne of Kiev, and on his brother-in-law, Adela's husband, so that from 1060 to 1067, they were regents of France.

In 1071, Adela's third son, Robert the Frisian, planned to invade Flanders even though at that time the Count of Flanders was Adela's grandson, Arnulf III. When she heard about Robert's plans, she asked Philip I to stop him. Philip sent soldiers to support Arnulf including a contingent of ten Norman knights led by William FitzOsborn. Robert's forces attacked Arnulf's numerically superior army at Cassel before it could organize, and Arnulf was killed along with William FitzOsborn. Robert's overwhelming victory led to Philip making peace with Robert and investing him as Count of Flanders. A year later, Philip married Robert's stepdaughter, Bertha of Holland, and in 1074, Philip restored the seigneurie of Corbie to the crown.

Adela had a strong interest in Baldwin V’s church reforms and was behind her husband’s founding of several collegiate churches. Directly or indirectly, she was responsible for establishing the Colleges of Aire (1049), Lille (1050) and Harelbeke (1064) as well as the abbeys of Messines (1057) and Ename (1063). After Baldwin’s death in 1067, she went to Rome, took the nun’s veil from the hands of Pope Alexander II and retired to the Benedictine convent of Messines, near Ypres. There she later died and was buried at the convent. Honoured as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, her commemoration day is 8 September.


Her possible first marriage was in 1027 to Richard III, Duke of Normandy (died 1027). They had no children.

Her marriage in 1028 was to Baldwin V, Count of Flanders (died 1067). Their children were:


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