Adalrich's family originated in the pagus Attoariensis around Dijon in northern Burgundy. In the mid-seventh century they began to be major founders and patrons of monasteries in the region under a duke named Amalgar and his wife Aquilina. They founded a convent at Brégille and an abbey for men at Bèze, installing children in both abbacies. They were succeeded by their third child, Adalrich, who was the father of Adalrich, Duke of Alsace.
Adalrich abandoned Leodegar and went over to Ebroin, the mayor of the palace of Neustria, sometime before 677, when he appears as an ally of Theuderic, who granted him the monastery of Bèze. Taking advantage of the assassination of Hector of Provence in 679 to bid for power in Provence, he marched on Lyon but failed to take it and, returning to Alsace, switched his support to the Austrasians once more, only to find himself dispossessed of his lands in Alsace by King Theuderic III, an ally (and puppet) of Ebroin's who had opposed Dagobert in Austrasia since 675, who gave them to the Abbey of Bèze that year (679).
In Alsace, however, the civil war had resulted in a curtailed royal power and Adalrich's influence and authority, though restricted in territory, was augmented in practical scope. After the war, parts of the Frankish kingdom saw a more powerful viceregal hand under the exercise of the mayors of the palaces, while other regions were even less directly affected by the royal prerogative. The Merovingian palace at Marlenheim in Alsace was never visited by a royal figure again in Adalrich's lifetime. While southern Austrasia had been the centre of Wulfoald's power, the Arnulflings were a north Austrasian family, who took scarce interest in Alsatian affairs until the 730s and 740s.
Adalrich had initially made his allies counts, but in 683 he granted the comital office to his son and eventual successor Adalbert. By controlling monasteries and counties in the family, Adalrich built up a powerful regional duchy to pass on to his Etichonid heirs.
Perhaps as penance for his relationship to the deaths of two future saints, Leodegar and Germanus of Grandval, or perhaps out of a secret desire — disclosed it is said to his intimate friends — to found a place to the service of God and take up the religious life, Adalrich founded two monasteries in north central Alsace between 680 and 700: Ebersheim in honour of Saint Maurice and Hohenburg on the site of an old Roman fort (of the emperor Maximian) discovered by his huntsmen and which he appropriated for his own military uses. Adalrich's daughter Odilia served as Hohenburg's first abbess and was later named patron saint of Alsace by Pope Pius VII in 1807.
The bishop tried to restore the duke's relationship with his daughter, but Adalrich, fearing the effect of admitting to having a daughter hiding in poverty in a monastery would have on his subjects, refused. A son of his, ignoring Adalrich's orders, brought his sister back to Hohenburg, where Adalrich was holding court. When Odilia arrived, Adalrich, in a rage, struck a blow with his sceptre to his son's head, accidentally killing him. Disgraced, he reluctant allowed Odilia to live in the monastery, which had not abbess, with a minimal wage under a British nun.
Towards the end of his life he was reconciled to her and made her the first abbess of his foundation, handing the abbey over as if it were private property. Through his daughter Adalrich was reconciled to God and as early as the twelfth century was regarded as a saint with a local cult. His burial garments were displayed to pilgrims in his foundation at Hohenburg and a feast day was celebrated annually by the nuns. The portrayal of Adalrich as a nobleman who became holy while retaining his noble status and rank was very popular in the Rhineland and as far away as Bavaria in the Middle Ages. The Life probably sought to show how by simply maltreating a blind daughter in order to save face, Adalrich ended up far more dishonoured than he otherwise would have.