Adelaida Savonskaya

Adelaida Savonskaya

Third wife of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Adelaide of Sicily
  2. Early Life
  3. Regency
  4. Later Life
  5. Alliance with Baldwin I
  6. Later Years and Death

Biography of Adelaide of Sicily

Adelaide of Sicily, also known as Adelaide del Vasto, was the third wife of Roger I of Sicily and later the third wife of King Baldwin I of Jerusalem. She was the mother of Roger II and served as regent during his minority years.

Early Life

Adelaide's exact parentage is uncertain, with some sources suggesting she was the daughter of Boniface of Savona, while others claim she was his niece. Two of her sisters were engaged to Sicilian princes Jordan and Godfrey, sons of Roger I. She married Roger I after the death of his second wife between 1087 and 1089.


Adelaide and Roger I had two sons, Simon and Roger II, as well as possibly daughters. After Roger I's death in 1101, Adelaide became regent for their son Simon, and later for Roger II after Simon's death in 1105. However, there is limited information about Adelaide's rule as most chronicles documenting Norman Southern Italy end at that period. It is known that Adelaide surrounded herself with Arab and Greek advisors, sidelining the Norman barons, who also served as tutors to her sons, explaining Roger II's Eastern influences.

Later Life

By the time Roger II reached adulthood in 1112, Adelaide and her court had permanently relocated from Mileto in Calabria to Palermo, effectively making Palermo the capital city of Sicily again. According to Orderic Vitalis, Adelaide, lacking experience in governing, brought Robert of Burgundy to Sicily, married him to one of her stepdaughters, made him co-ruler, and then poisoned him. However, this account is not mentioned in any Italian sources, and some historians reject it as being distorted and inaccurate.

Alliance with Baldwin I

In 1113, envoys from Baldwin I of Jerusalem arrived in Palermo to propose a marriage alliance with Adelaide. The negotiations were successful, and Adelaide insisted on including a clause in the marriage contract that made her son Roger II the heir to the Kingdom of Jerusalem in case the marriage remained childless. Adelaide and Baldwin I were married in August 1113 in Acre. Adelaide's significant dowry helped resolve Baldwin's financial problems, and initially, the marriage seemed successful. However, the union faced severe criticism from the Church. Baldwin's previous marriage to Armenian princess Arda had not been formally dissolved, and he forced her to live in a Jerusalem monastery before allowing her to leave for Constantinople. Thus, Baldwin, without officially divorcing Arda, married Adelaide and became a bigamist. The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Arnulf, who performed the wedding, was deposed for simony, but later reinstated by the Pope with the condition of working towards the annulment of the illegal royal union.

Later Years and Death

In the spring of 1117, Baldwin I fell seriously ill and, under pressure from Arnulf, agreed to separate from Adelaide. Humiliated and robbed (her dowry was not returned), Adelaide returned to Sicily and died there on April 16, 1118. She was buried in the Cathedral of Patti. Due to the annulment of Baldwin and Adelaide's marriage, the condition for Roger II to inherit the Jerusalem crown became void and was not fulfilled.