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Emma, queen of the Franks

Title social-status: 
queen of the Franks

Emma was the daughter of Lothar, king of Italy, and of Adelaide, then queen of Italy, later empress. Emma was also niece and cousin of kings of Burgundy, through her mother, half-sister and aunt of Ottonian emperors, wife and mother of kings of France. She married Lothar, king of France from 954-86, accompanied him on campaign and defended Verdun while he was in Laon.(1) When he died, she was briefly regent for their son Louis V, but was accused of adultery with Adalbero (known as Ascelin), bishop of Laon, a charge which apparently her son believed or chose to believe. She was ousted and imprisoned by her brother-in-law, Charles of Lower Lorraine. The empress Theophanu asked Hugh Capet, by then king of France, to negotiate for her release, but he had no success. Adalbero, archbishop of Reims, asked her mother Adelaide to intervene but she either did not or did and failed — Lothar’s attacks on Adelaide’s son may have set Adelaide against them both. Emma was eventually freed and granted Dijon but she did not return to public life in the kingdom.

Biographical notes: 

(1) See Pauline Stafford, Queens, Concubines and Dowagers (London: Batsford, 1983), 117. For more about Emma’s life and political role, see also Ferdinand Lot, Les Derniers Carolingiens, Lothaire, Louis V, Charles de Lorraines, 954-991 (Paris: Bouillon, 1891, repr. Paris: Champion, 1975). Lot notes that scarcely a document was executed under Lothar without Emma’s intervention, 54.