Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sean L. Field


Adele of Champagne (r. 1160-1180) was the third wife of King Louis VII of France (r. 1137-1180) and the mother of Philip II (r. 1180-1223), descended from the powerful Champagne family in the kingdom of France. Between 1180 and her death in 1206, Adele navigated the transition of power between her husband and her son, was appointed to the role of guardian of the kingdom during her son’s absence on the Third Crusade, and administered her dower lands during her widowhood, bestowing her patronage on the religious institutions and individuals she favored. Her activities in this period underscore the importance of recognizing the queen in her position as mother of the king and through her networks of natal family in twelfth-century France.

Beginning with a study of Adele’s actions during the transition between the reign of her husband Louis VII and her son Philip II in 1180, this thesis analyzes how Adele led her family’s faction to counter a threat to their position in the new king’s government. Next, it analyzes Adele’s appointment as guardian of the kingdom alongside her brother, Archbishop William, in 1190 during Philip’s absence on the Third Crusade, the first to officially give a woman the duty of the care of the kingdom in France, analyzing the specific actions and limitations put upon Adele as she navigated her unprecedented role. Finally, this thesis explores Adele’s activities as a patron during her widowhood to illustrate how she used her private actions as a tool, both to connect to the political events of her day and to shape the religious landscape of medieval France. In sum, this thesis situates Adele’s ability to leverage her power and authority through her natal family, her motherhood, and her material donations, contributing to the historiographies of Capetian queenship, women’s patronage, and power and authority.



Number of Pages

165 p.