Rotrude Carolingian was born 770 to Charlemagne (747-814) and Hildegard (758-783) and died 6 June 810 of unspecified causes. Charlemagne (747-814).

Few clear records remain of Princess Rotrude's early life. She was educated in the Palace School by Alcuin of York, who affectionately calls her Columba in his letters to her.[1] When she was six, her father betrothed her to Constantine VI of Byzantium, whose mother Irene was ruling as regent. The Greeks called her Erythro, and sent a scholar monk called Elisaeus to educate her in Greek language and manners.[2] However, the alliance fell apart by 786 when she was eleven, and Constantine's mother, Irene, broke off the engagement in 788.

She then became the mistress of Rorgo of Rennes and had two sons and a daughter with him. She never married.

Rotrude eventually became a nun, joining her aunt Gisela, abbess of Chelles. The two women authored a letter to Alcuin of York, who was at Tours at the time, requesting that he write a commentary explaining the Gospel of John.[3] As a result, Alcuin eventually produced his seven-book Commentaria in Johannem Evangelistam, a more accessible companion to the gospel than St. Augustine's massive and challenging Tractates on St. John. Commentators have dated the letter to the spring of 800, four years before Alcuin's death and ten before Rotrude's. [4]

In contemporary views of history, most scholars discriminate between the two phases of Rotrude's life. Political histories of Charlemagne her father discuss her as a princess who was potentially a pawn and a woman of questionable morals [5], while religious histories discuss her as the second nun in the letter from Chelles.[6]


Offspring of Rotrude Carolingian and Rorgon of Maine (c770-839)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Louis de Saint Denis (c800-867) 800 867
Adeltrude of Maine (?-?)



  1. ^ Gaskoin, C. J. B. Alcuin: His Life and His Work. New York: Russell & Russell, 1966
  2. ^ Runciman, Steven. "The Empress Irene the Athenian." Medieval Women. Ed. Derek Baker. Oxford: Ecclesiastical History Society, 1978.
  3. ^ "Epistola Christi Familarum Gislae atque Rechtrudae ad Albinum Magistrum." Patrologia Latina 100:738D-740C.
  4. ^ Ed. Dümmler, Monumenta Germanicae Historica: Epistolae aevi Carolini II, pp 323-325
  5. ^ rotrud_tochter_karls_des_grossen_+_810
  6. ^ Commentaria

Footnotes (including sources)

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