Princess to Prioress
80,000 - 100,000
What's it all about?
Daughter, wife, mother, power broker, manipulator of family, men, and situations.
In an era when women were chattel, Adele of Blois, daughter of a king, sister of kings and the mother of a king, survived complicated and dangerous conflicts to be a powerful religious and political force in twelfth century France.
This is her story.
La Trinité, Caen
Twelve-year-old Princess Adele stabbed her bronze needle through the linen stretched on the frame in front of her and imagined piercing the black heart belonging to Sister Euphemia. Friday afternoons in the convent school of La Trinité were dedicated to sewing and embroidery. All the resident students, most of the postulants, and many novices gathered in the dayroom to work on altar cloths and other religious items. A majority of the nuns spent the afternoons in the chapter house, the room attached to the church, handling convent business.
Adele loathed all needlework, and she detested Sister Euphemia who taught it. Sister Euphemia had no respect for Adele's position in life and in this convent. After all, Adele's mother and father founded La Trinité. Adele deserved to be treated with deference and not the constant disdain spilling from Sister Euphemia's mouth.
Later, Adele and the other students would file into the chapel to make their weekly confession and then do penance. Going to confession was the best part of the afternoon. Some weeks Adele wished she had more to confess. During her stays at La Trinité she found daily life regulated and unremarkable. Days flowed one into another, lessons broken up by religious services or perhaps religious services interrupted by lessons.
Adele learned and accepted the routine and rules of the school and convent as a necessary burden of being a royal princess. The good sisters, except for Sister Euphemia, were preparing her for a future as a royal wife.
Adele enjoyed most lessons at La Trinité. She had mastered the lute and also played the psaltery. She prided herself on her knowledge of history. She studied Latin and wrote her name with a scholarly hand. She knew her numbers and could calculate better than many of her brothers, and resented the fact that girls were not taught to fight. The only instruction Adele hated was needlework. Friday afternoons stretched out interminably as she sat in front of the embroidery frame while Sister Euphemia supervised.
Sister Euphemia delighted in censuring Adele. When the students gathered to sew, the nun began her litany of Adele's faults. She started with Adele's uneven stitches and ended with, "You are almost beyond the age of betrothal, Adele. Who would ever choose to wed a woman with so few womanly skills, even if your father is a king? Count Crispin preferred God to you.”