Queenship and Sanctity: The Lives of Mathilda and the Epitaph of Adelheid (Medieval Texts in Translation)
At the dawn of the second millennium, authors from monasteries in Burgundy and northern Germany recorded the lives and deaths of two powerful and pious women, Mathilda (d. 968) and Adelheid (d. 999). Both were extolled as saints, exemplary figures guided by God and witnessing to His grace. Unlike most other holy women, however, Mathilda and Adelheid were not ascetic nuns, but queens. They were deemed worthy of praise not only for their devotion to God and their lives of faith, but for integrating these traditional virtues with more "worldly" attributes: noble birth, royal marriage, political power, and illustrious offspring. In turn, the saintly reputations of both women were used by their biographers to advance the interests not only of their own ecclesiastical communities, but of a new generation of secular rulers.
Queenship and Sanctity brings together for the first time in English the anonymous Lives of Mathilda and Odilo of Cluny's Epitaph of Adelheid. Richly annotated, with an extensive introduction placing the texts and their subjects in historical and hagiographical context, it provides teachers and students with a crucial set of sources for the history of Europe (particularly Germany) in the tenth and eleventh centuries, for the development of sacred biography and medieval notions of sanctity, and for the life of aristocratic and royal women in the early Middle Ages. In addition, two appendices present contemporary accounts of Mathilda by the monk and historian Widukind of Corvey, and a survey of the evidence for Mathilda's ancestral ties to the legendary Saxon hero Widukind, whose defeat by Charlemagne in the late eighth century ultimately led to Saxony's assimilation into the Frankish church and kingdom.
A useful resource for scholars of the period, yet accessible to non-specialists, Queenship and Sanctity is an engaging introduction to two fascinating women and the world they helped to create.