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Eupraxia of Kiev

Holy Roman Empress
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Spouse Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Father Vsevolod I of Kiev
Mother Cuman princess
Born c. 1070
Died 20 July 1109(1109-07-20) (aged 37–38)

Eupraxia of Kiev (c.1067/1070 – July 10, 1109 AD[1]) (sometimes westernised as Praxedis; in Ukrainian Євпраксія, in Russian Евпраксия[2]) was the daughter of Vsevolod I, Prince of Kiev, and his Kypchak wife Anna. She married Henry IV of Germany and took the name Adelaide (or Adelheid).[1]

First marriage

Eupraxia was first married to Henry I the Long, count of Stade and margrave of the Saxon Northern March, who was the son of Lothair Udo II.[3] Eupraxia and Henry had no children before his death in 1087.

Second marriage

After her first husband's death, Eupraxia went to live in the convent of Quedlinburg, where she met Henry IV, who was then the Saxon king. He was greatly impressed by her beauty. After his first wife Bertha of Savoy died in December 1087, Henry became betrothed to Eupraxia in 1088. The couple married the following year on 18 August 1089 at Cologne. Immediately after the wedding, Eupraxia was crowned and assumed the name Adelaide (or Adelheid).[4]

During Henry's campaigns in Italy, he took Eupraxia-Adelaide with him and kept her imprisoned at Verona.[5] She escaped in 1093 and fled to Canossa, where she sought the aid of Matilda of Tuscany, one of Henry's enemies. Eupraxia-Adelaide accused Henry of ill-treating her in a letter that was read at legatine synod held in Constance in April 1094.[6] The following year, at the urging of Pope Urban II, Eupraxia-Adelaide made a public confession before the church Council of Piacenza.[7] She accused Henry of holding her against her will, of forcing her to participate in orgies, and, according to some later accounts, of attempting a black mass on her naked body.[8] According to these later chroniclers, Henry became involved in a Nicolaitan sect, and hosted the sect's orgies and obscene rituals in his palaces. Eupraxia-Adelaide was forced to participate in these orgies, and on one occasion Henry allegedly offered her to his son, Conrad. Conrad refused indignantly, and then revolted against his father. He began to support the papal side in the Italian wars which formed part of the Investiture Controversy. This legend [9] takes its origin from the hostility between Henry and Urban II during the Investiture Controversy.

According to an account written in the mid-twelfth century, because Henry forced Eupraxia-Adelaide to take part in orgies, when she became pregnant she was unable to tell who the father of her child was. Eupraxia-Adelaide thus decided to leave Henry.[10] Christian Raffensperger has suggested that there might be some truth to this story, based on a reference to the death of one of Henry’s sons in Donizo’s Vita Mathildis (written c.1115).[11] Since Henry’s children by his first wife Bertha are accounted for, according to Raffensperger this could be a child by Eupraxia-Adelaide (alternatively, it could be a reference to a child by a mistress, or simply a mistake).[12]

Eupraxia-Adelaide left Italy for Hungary, where she lived until 1099, when she returned to Kiev.[13] After Henry's death in 1106 she became a nun until her own death in 1109.[14]


  • G. Vernadsky, Kievan Rus (New Haven, 1976).
  • C. Raffensperger, ‘Evpraksia Vsevolodovna between East and West,’ Russian History/Histoire Russe 30:1–2 (2003), 23-34.
  • C. Raffensperger, 'The Missing Russian Women: The Case of Evpraksia Vsevolodovna,' in Writing Medieval Women's Lives (ed. Goldy, Livingstone) (2012), pp.
  • H. Rüß, ‘Eupraxia-Adelheid. Eine biographische Annäherung,‘ Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 54 (2006), 481–518
  • I.S. Robinson, Henry IV of Germany, 1056-1106 (Cambridge, 2003).
  • G. Althoff, Heinrich IV (Darmstadt, 2006).

External links


  1. ^ a b "Adelaide of Kiev (c. 1070–1109)". Gale Research Inc. Retrieved 8 January 2013. (subscription required)
  2. ^ Women of Ancient Rus (In Russian)
  3. ^ Rüß, ‘Eupraxia,’ pp. 487f.
  4. ^ Althoff, Heinrich IV., pp. 207f.
  5. ^ Robinson, Henry IV, p. 289.
  6. ^ Robinson, Henry IV, p. 290
  7. ^ Althoff, Heinrich IV, p. 213
  8. ^ Robinson, Henry IV, pp. 289ff.; Women of Ancient Rus (In Russian)
  9. ^ Not a legend. Proved by various historic editions.
  10. ^ Gerhoh of Reichersburg, De investigatione Antichristi, MGH LdL 3, I.17, pp. 324f., accessible online at Monumenta Germaniae Historica (in Latin)
  11. ^ Raffensperger, ‘Missing Russian Women,’ pp. 76, 83 n. 31, with reference to Donizo of Canossa, Vita Mathildis, Book II, v.665.
  12. ^ According to one of the editors of the Vita Mathildis, this is a reference to one of Henry’s illegitimate children: Vita Mathildis, celeberrimae principis Italiae, ed. L. Simeoni (Bologna, 1940), p. 77.
  13. ^ Raffensperger, 'Missing Russian Women,' pp. 78f.
  14. ^ Rüß, ‘Eupraxia,’ pp. 511-514.
Eupraxia of Kiev
Born: 1071 Died: 1109
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Bertha of Savoy
Holy Roman Empress
Succeeded by
Matilda of England

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