Louis VII of France (1120 – 1180) and Adelaide of Champagne (c. 1140 – 1206)



Louis Capet, King of the Franks, and his 3rd wife Adelaide of Champagne, Queen Consort of the Franks.

Louis the Younger, as he was called, was the son of King Louis the Fat of France, and Adelaide of Savoy. As a second son, he was being educated for the Church. Louis was quite scholarly and pious. He would have made an excellent priest, bishop, or cardinal and was not cut out to be a strong King. However, things happen, and Louis’s brother died suddenly and unexpectedly from a terrible accident.

Louis’s life changed rather rapidly after his brother’s death. Aquitaine, one of France’s most richest and powerful vassals lost their Duke, William X. His teenage daughter succeeded him. Louis the Fat, named guardian by the girl’s father moved quickly. He wanted to get to her first before her Lords and Barons, got any ideas to take the Duchess, her enormous wealth, and her armies. He sent his timid son straight away to Aquitaine with an army, to marry Eleanor. This Eleanor did dutifully. She was no fool and she knew this is in her best interest at the time.

The Dauphin Louis had the most wealthiest, and many said, the most beautiful lady in the land as his wife. He was conflicted by her sensuality and beauty, and many times was said to confess to close friends that he loved her deeply, yet he found her vulgar. He was jealous, insecure, and timid. Eleanor was confident, manipulative, and shrewd. The poor boy never had a chance really. Almost as soon as they were married, Louis the Fat died, and Louis VII and Eleanor were King and Queen of France.

Eleanor was such a powerful personality that she never let either of her husbands get their hands on her Duchy. She remained Duchess of Aquitaine in her own right, separate from her titles and rights as Queen Consort. This made her powerful on her own. Her Aquitanian Barrons were fiercely loyal to her. She even forced Louis to let her go on crusade with him or he would not get support from Aquitaine. It was during this time that their marriage really fell apart. Louis as King and overlord, gave orders to Aquitanian men, and Eleanor countered those orders. The Aquitanian Knights, loyal to their Duchess, followed Eleanor’s orders. The result was, that the French Army was destroyed by the Saracens. Louis was outraged, and it made him realize that his wife was not really on his side, but her own. They fought during the whole crusade openly. Eleanor pushed for an annulment and eventually won. During their marriage they had two daughters. About 6 weeks later, Eleanor Married the Duke of Normandy, who became the King of England. This made relations quite awkward. England and France were long time foes. Aquitaine was a vassal of France, yet she was England’s Queen… There was some serious political drama in the years that followed.

After his annulment to Eleanor of Aquitaine, he married Constance of Castile. They were only married some 6 years or so. She died giving birth to their second daughter. By then Louis was not getting in younger and he was desperate for a son. He married fairly quickly after Constance’s death (6 weeks).

His third wife was Adelaide of Champagne. They had two children, a son Phillip, who became Philip II of France, and Agnes of France who became Empress consort of the Byzantine. Adelaide was not very powerful or influential in Louis’s lifetime, but she was somewhat during her son’s reign. She acted as regent for him a few times and there were open power struggles between her and her daughter in law, Isabella of Hainault.

Louis VII, was a relatively good King, but his piousness sometimes got in the way of his being a strong effective King. He was not a military man like his rival Henry II of England. He tried to settle his issues peacefully, usually by diplomacy (marriage alliances with his children and treaties). However he really irked the English King when he supported Thomas A Becket during his exile and even supported Henry’s sons in their rebellions against him, but honestly he was in the position to do so anyway, as most of Henry’s sons were married to his daughters (with his other wives- not Eleanor of course). Louis died in 1180. He was succeeded by his only heir, Phillip II.


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