You are here


Title social-status: 

Adelicia was a niece of the archdeacon of Poitiers, who tried to force her into the monastic life. Peter of Blois wrote to him on her behalf. Michael Markowski discusses that letter (PL 207, ep.54), in some detail, from which I quote:1 "Peter criticized the archdeacon of Poitiers who was trying to force his niece into a nunnery. Peter went right to the point: 'Adelicia, your niece, pleads and complains lamentably because you want to thrust her into a monastery and abandon her, unwilling and resisting, to the custody of a cloister.' Peter wrote that Adelicia had been planning to marry and to raise a family, but now 'was compelled to forego motherhood' by her uncle. Peter made plain that the central focus of the controversy was Adelicia's own intention. We can see this in his phrases, 'unwilling and resisting woman ... compelled to forego motherhood.' He wrote in glowing terms of her desire for marriage, 'the conjugal embrace,' and her desire for children, 'the fruit of posterity.' He argued that Adelicia should only enter a cloister through her own free will, not through force. ... Since Adelicia 'publicly' protested her entry into the cloistered life, it would be a 'perverse' wrong to force her. Peter concluded: 'Desist, therefore, from the attempt' to force Adelicia into the cloistered life." But she did finally enter that life, and Peter wrote to her to say how much better a life it was.

Biographical notes: 

"Treatment of Women in the Letter Collection of Peter of Blois," article in: Minorities in the Middle Ages, Ed. Susan Ridyard (Univ. of the South, Sewanee Mediaeval Studies #7, 1996), 63-71.