Gisela, Abbess of Chelles

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Gisela (757–810) was the daughter of Pepin the Short and his wife Bertrada of Laon. She was the sister of Charlemagne and Carloman.[1] She was betrothed to Leo, the son of Byzantine Emperor Constantine V (the future Emperor Leo IV) but the contract was broken.

Charlemagne's biographer Einhard states that Gisela had been dedicated to religion since her childhood. She became a nun at Chelles Abbey, where she was eventually made abbess.[1] As the abbess at Chelles Abbey, Gisela oversaw one of the most prolific nuns' scriptoria active in the 8th and 9th centuries.[2] According to Einhard she had good relations with her brother Charlemagne, who "treated her with the same respect which he showed his mother." She died in 810 at the convent she had served for most of her life.

Alcuin was a close friend. He dedicated the last two books of his commentary on John's gospel to her and her niece, Rotrudis.[3]

Charlemagne and his wife Hildegard also named a daughter Gisela. Gisela the Younger lived from about 781 to after at least 808, but little else is known of her life.


  1. ^ a b Sanctity and Power: The Dual Pursuit of Early Medieval Women, Suzanne F. Wemple, Becoming Visible: Women in European History, ed. Renate Bridenthal, Claudia Koonz and Susan Stuard, (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987), 139.
  2. ^ McKitterick, Rosamond (1994). Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th-9th Centuries. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited. pp. 1–35, 1–43. ISBN 0-86078-406-1.
  3. ^ Dales, Douglas. Alcuin: His Life and Legacy, James Clarke & Co, 2012, ISBN 9780227173466 p. 91