Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Queenship and Sanctity: The "Lives" of Mathilda and the "Epitaph" of Adelheid

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Queenship and Sanctity: The "Lives" of Mathilda and the "Epitaph" of Adelheid

Article excerpt

Queenship and Sanctity: The "Lives" of Mathilda and the "Epitaph" of Adelheid. Translated with an introduction and notes by Sean Gilsdorf. (Washington, D.C. : The Catholic University of America Press. 2004. Pp. xviii, 221. $24.95 paperback.)

Although women, not so very long ago, were assumed to be marginalized in the Middle Ages, recent scholarship has revealed that they can be found all through the sources if one looks for them. In this volume, Scan Gilsdorf makes two medieval women much more visible by translating their vitae. Mathilda and her daughter-in-law Adelheid were both queens of Ottoman Germany, who lived in the second half of the tenth century. In the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, two different "lives" of Mathilda were written-the first most likely by a nun-as well as a briefer "life" (or "epitaph") of Adelheid. Mathilda's second "life" contains many of the events of her later years, which occurred after the first "life" was written, and has a good deal of overlap with the events in Adelheid's "epitaph," so it is appropriate that all these versions appear together. This volume includes the first English translations of the three texts as well as an extensive introduction.

Unlike most saintly women, Mathilda and Adelheid were not nuns or recluses but women active in the world. Indeed, the tenth-century author of Mathilda's first "life" had to go back four hundred years, to the holy queen Radegund, to find a good model to use in describing someone who was a queen, a wife, and a mother, as well as an admirable example of sanctity. Mathilda was the wife of Henry the Fowler, first in his line to take the German throne, and had at least five children, while Adelheid married two kings-Lothar of Italy and Otto I of Germany-and also had at least five children, including a king and a queen. The two queens' sanctity was expressed particularly through their support of regular monasticism, especially Cluniac houses; indeed, Adelheid's "epitaph" was written by Abbot Odilo of Cluny. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.