Radegund of Thuringia’s life illustrates how complicated it was to be a noblewoman in the Middle Ages. She was born to one of Thuringia’s three kings, Berthacar, in the 6th century. Her father was killed by her uncle Hermanfrid who had made an alliance with the Franks in exchange for half of Thuringia’s land. Her uncle then reneged, provoking a Frankish invasion. Radegund was carried off as a royal captive.
Five years later when she came of age, she was married off to the Frankish king Lothar. She lived with him ten years, but had no children and had to suffer the humiliation of being one of his many women. Eventually Radegund escaped to a cloister where she took up an independent life as a kind of lay abbess. Lothar made a few attempts to recover her, but also supported her and her charitable efforts. She dedicated hospitals and became revered as a healer and patroness of the poor. She was canonized as a saint in the 9th century.