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Adela of Blois
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690pp. 2007
Catalogue Price: €80.00
Web Price: €72.00
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Adela of Blois

Countess and Lord (c.1067-1137)

Kimberly LoPrete

Based on a comprehensive re-evaluation of unpublished and published charters, letters, poems, and narrative sources, this is the first scholarly volume devoted to the life and political career of Adela, the youngest daughter of William the Conqueror (c.1067-1137), who ruled as countess of Blois, Chartres and Meaux for over twenty years. Well-known to literary historians for generations, Adela, in this study, emerges as an active and able lord who used her status, literacy, wealth, familial and feudal networks and authoritative comital powers to intervene decisively in the turbulent power politics of her day.

Careful contextualisation of the sources shows that she was involved in both well- and little-known events in ways hitherto unsuspected, while at the same time a re-analysis of the familial-political alignments pertaining at the time of her marriage results in a positive revaluation of the position of the Thibaudian counts of Blois, Chartres, Meaux and Troyes after their loss of Tours yet prior to their forging a county of Champagne.

Thus, not only does this book provide a model for analysing the diverse fragmentary sources concerning powerful women, but it shows how accounting for women's recorded deeds results in a revised socio-political narrative of the period. In addition, the appendices provide a chronology and source-critical analysis of all the primary sources alongside significant passages from unpublished manuscripts and increasingly rare editions; they will be an indispensable reference to all scholars interested in this period.

Kimberly LoPrete is a lecturer in medieval history, at NUI, Galway.

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