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Emma fra Normandiet

Emma fra Normandiet

Emma, ​​datter af Richard, hertug af Normandiet, giftede sig med Ethelred the Unready i 1002, og parret fik senere en søn, Edward Confessor. I 1013 blev Emma og Ethelred tvunget til at flygte til Normandiet, efter at landet blev invaderet af Sevin Haralsson, kongen af ​​Norge.

I 1017 blev Emma kaldt til England for at gifte sig med Ethelreds efterfølger, Canute, af hvem hun fik to børn, Hardicanute og Gunnhildr. Dette ægteskab skabte en dynastisk forbindelse mellem de kongelige familier i England og Normandiet.

Emma var en generøs protektor for kirker og klostre som dem i Winchester, Ely og Ramsey. Hun leverede også penge til kirker i Bremen (Tyskland) og Poitiers (Frankrig).

Efter at Hardicanute døde i 1042 blev Edvard Bekenderen konge. Året efter fratog Edward alle hendes godser. Angelsaksiske kronikere hævdede, at Edward havde gjort dette, fordi han følte, at han var blevet negligeret af sin mor som barn. Emma fra Normandiet døde i 1052.


Emma fra Normandiet

Emma fra Normandiet (d. 1052), dronning af Æthelred II og af Cnut. Emma spillede en vigtig rolle i den forvirrede succession til den engelske trone mellem 1016 og 1066. Tidligt i livet blev hun den anden kone til Æthelred II (1002). Hendes første søn, Edward, efterfulgte den engelske trone i 1042: hendes storesøstersøn var Vilhelm Erobreren. Efter døden af ​​Æthelred i 1016 giftede hun sig med Cnut. Ved sin død i 1035 forsøgte Emma at opnå riget for deres søn Harthacnut, der dengang var omkring 16. I 1037 var hun forpligtet til at søge tilflugt i Flandern, men vendte tilbage med Harthacnut i 1040. Da han to år senere døde, blev hendes første søn , fra hvem hun var fremmedgjort, tog tronen. Meget af hendes ejendom blev beslaglagt, og hun boede på pension i Winchester, hvor hun blev begravet sammen med sin anden mand, Cnut. Henry af Huntingdon kaldte hende for normannernes perle ’.

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Defenders of the Norman Crown: The Warenne Earls of Surrey's stigning og fald fortæller den fascinerende historie om Warenne -dynastiet, om en af ​​de mest magtfulde familiers succeser og fiaskoer, fra dens oprindelse i Normandiet, gennem erobringen, Magna Carta, de krige og ægteskaber, der førte til dets endelige død i regeringstiden af Edward III.

Defenders of the Norman Crown: The Warenne Earls of Surrey's stigning og fald er nu tilgængelig til forudbestilling fra Pen & amp Sword Books.

Også af Sharon Bennett Connolly:

Ladies of Magna Carta: Kvinder med indflydelse i det trettende århundredes England ser på forholdet mellem de forskellige adelsfamilier i 1200 -tallet, og hvordan de blev påvirket af baronernes krige, Magna Carta og dens efterfølgende bånd, der blev dannet og dem, der blev brudt. Det er nu tilgængeligt fra Pen & amp Sword, Amazon og fra Book Depository verden over.

Heltinder fra middelalderen fortæller historierne om nogle af de mest bemærkelsesværdige kvinder fra middelalderens historie, fra Eleanor fra Aquitaine til Julian af Norwich. Tilgængelig nu fra Amberley Publishing og Amazon og Book Depository.

Silke og sværdet: Kvinderne i den normanniske erobring sporer skæbnen for de kvinder, der havde en væsentlig rolle at spille i de væsentlige begivenheder i 1066. Fås nu fra Amazon, Amberley Publishing, Book Depository.

Du kan være den første til at læse nye artikler ved at klikke på knappen ‘Følg’, lide vores Facebook -side eller slutte mig til mig på Twitter og Instagram.


Tag: Emma fra Normandiet

Patricia Bracewell er forfatter til Emma fra Normandiet -trilogien og 2. marts markerer udgivelsen af ​​den sidste roman i denne trilogi: Stålen under silken. Det er en historie fyldt med forræderi, hjertesorg, ømhed og lidenskab, da Englands dronning konfronterer ambitiøse og forræderiske rådmænd, invaderende hære og den danske konges magthungrende konkubine. ” Med det som kontekst kan vi være sikre på, at Patricia ved en eller anden ting om konflikt – hendes emne for i dag.

Drama, konflikt og forandring - ting, der forårsager sådanne kvalmende forstyrrelser i vores eget liv - er det, der gør fantasiverdenen i en roman helt overbevisende. Konflikt er især motoren, der driver en historie, uanset genren. Men i modsætning til forfattere i andre genrer skal historiske romanforfattere nå ind i fortiden, skal rodfæste de konflikter, der skildres i deres romaner, inden for historien og kulturen i deres valgte historiske perioder. Konflikt bliver derefter et redskab til ikke kun at flytte historien fremad, men til at fordybe læserne i den anden tid og det sted.

Der er tre typer konflikter, der bør være i enhver romanforfatters værktøjskasse: Man vs Man, Man vs Nature og Man vs Himself. Og fordi en forfatter ikke kun kan stole på en slags konflikt for at føre en historie helt til ende, bør alle tre vises på siderne i enhver roman. Den historiske romanforfatter minder dog fortiden for at finde dem.

I min trilogi i England fra det 11. århundrede fandt jeg masser af Man vs Man-konflikt i den årti lange danske indsats for at erobre England. Store mænd med sværd, der kommer fra drageskibe, vises på de første sider i min første bog, Skygge på kronen, og vikingernes invasion af England er den overordnede baggrund for alle tre romaner.

Men selvom jeg skrev om krig, var min største interesse ikke i mænd og kampe, men i de kvinder, der gennemlevede denne konflikt, men alligevel kun havde sjældne optrædener i datidens historiske dokumenter. Så jeg holdt kampscener og træfninger til et minimum, og beskrev dem ofte gennem ordene fra Angelsaksisk krønike- den samtidige beretning om begivenheder i det 11. århundredes England. I Stålet under silken Jeg citerede a Krønike post, der beskrev et vikingeangreb på Canterbury og sandsynligvis blev skrevet af en munk i den by i levende hukommelse om hændelsen:

De angreb Canterbury og greb ærkebiskop Ælfheah ... og de overvældede ham med knogler og horn af okser, og en af ​​dem slog ham med et øks-jern på hovedet, og hans hellige blod faldt på jorden.

Det forekom mig, at denne beretning af en, der muligvis kendte den myrdede ærkebiskop, ville være lige så bevægende som alt, hvad jeg kunne opfinde.

Krig er dog kun en slags konflikt mellem mand og mand. Ambition, harme, mistanke og rivalisering kan føre til konflikt, der er langt mere subtil og formidles gennem dialog og intern monolog. For eksempel, vel vidende at de to centrale historiske figurer i min historie, Emma fra Normandiet og Elgiva fra Northampton, ville blive stillet mod hinanden i en magtkamp i England mange år efter min trilogis periode, forestillede jeg mig, hvordan det senere konflikt kunne have begyndt årtier tidligere, og jeg bragte den ind på siderne i mine romaner. Her står Emma og Elgiva overfor Stålet under silken:

Et langt øjeblik fortsatte Elgiva med at betragte sin gamle fjende i grublende stilhed. Emma var alt for arrogant, besluttede hun. Hun troede stadig, at hun var en dronning, og det var Cnuts skyld. Han havde dumt gjort hendes fængsel alt for behagelig, og det var for længst tid at gøre noget ved det.

Hun sagde: ”Jeg vil gerne tale med dig om dine sønner, Emma. Jeg har set Edward. ” Og hun så tilfreds med, hvordan Emma lagde sin nål til side, faldt hænderne i hendes skød og vendte sig mod hende.

"Du så ham - hvor?" Spurgte Emma iskoldt, hendes grønne øjne vurderede Elgiva som om hun forsøgte at fastslå sandheden i hendes påstand.

Ingen sværd i den scene. Kun en nål, harme, mistanke, skarpe ord og frostige blikke. Konflikter inden for familien, inden for domstolen og inden for riget og den bredere verden er de basale metaller, som en historisk romanforfatter ligesom en alkymist kan omdanne til guld.

Hvad angår mennesket mod naturen - sygdom, grimt vejr, de helt reelle farer ved at komme et sted på et skib, en hest, en vogn eller til fods - især hvis tiden er en faktor - alle disse tilføjer drama og spænding til enhver historie. Karaktererne i mine romaner lider af aborter, pest, frygteligt vejr, beskidte veje og farlige sørejser, alt sammen trukket fra min forskning. Et godt eksempel: i Stålet under silken en flodbølge skaber kaos på den engelske kyst:

Købmænd ankom med historier om havne, der var blevet ødelagt af en stor bølge af skibe, der var blevet fejet inde i landet og forladt, voldsramte og ødelagte, langt fra havet af utallige lig af mænd, kvinder og børn, der lå som bundter af klude på strandene eller flyder ud for kysten. Selv de større byer på den engelske kyst var blevet hærget af havet, mens mange små landsbyer var blevet helt fejet væk ... og ingen efterlod sig selv for at tælle de døde ... Alle var blevet ødelagt af en tidevand, som mange troede var blevet instrueret af hånden på en vred Gud.

Det fandt jeg ikke ud af. Flodbølgen, der ramte Storbritannien i 1015, blev bevidnet af kronikere i Wales, England og lavlandet. Min beskrivelse var imidlertid baseret på billeder af tsunamien, der ødelagde Thailand i 2004 - historien gentog sig selv.

Hvad angår mennesket vs sig selv, skildres denne konflikt normalt gennem intern monolog, da forfatteren langsomt afslører en karakters personlighed. Men fordi kongen, der optræder i mine romaner af en historiker fra 1100 -tallet var blevet beskrevet som "hjemsøgt af sin brors skygge", besluttede jeg at bruge dette spøgelse som legemliggørelsen af ​​kongens skyld, frygt og ubeslutsomhed:

… Da han kiggede forsigtigt ind i mellemdistancen foran ham, kunne han se luften riste som vand, da hans bror nærmede sig, hvert sår på hans krop gabede som en blodig mund.

Tvunget til at stirre ind i sin brors brændende øjne forbandede han lydløst den rædsel, der holdt ham i træls. Den martyrede Edward, som han vidste nu, ville aldrig nøjes med en gylden helligdom eller endda med en kongesøn, der blev indviet til hans tjeneste. Et øje for et øje, sagde Bibelen. En krone til en krone. Hans bror og hans Gud krævede genoprettelse og intet mindre. Der ville ikke være nogen tilgivelse, ingen fred, før han opgav den krone, der aldrig skulle have været hans.

Og det ville han aldrig.

Frygt, skyldfølelse, ubeslutsomhed, frustration, forbudt lidenskab - alt dette fører til indre uro, som kan plage vores karakterer. Og pine er det operative ord her. Det sidste, en forfatter ønsker at gøre, er at gøre tingene lette for personerne i en roman. Pine og konflikt er sporene, der driver karakterer til handling. Uanset hvor meget vi elsker dem, må vi få dem til at lide indtil næsten den sidste side.

I år 1012 har Englands normannefødte dronning Emma været gift i ti år med en aldrende, hensynsløs, hjemsøgt kong Æthelred. Ægteskabet er bittert ulykkeligt, mellem en dronning, der søger at skabe sin egen indflydelsessfære inden for hoffet, og en mistænksom konge, der ser fjendtlighed og harme på hendes indsats. Men kongelig uenighed skifter til modstridende alliance, når Cnut of Denmark med den hemmelige sammenspil af hans engelske konkubine Elgiva invaderer England i spidsen for en massiv vikingearme. Midt i krigens kaos skal Emma overvinde en voldsom fjende, hvis mål er erobring og udmanøvrere den listige Elgiva, der truer alle dem, som Emma elsker.

Mange tak, Patricia. Jeg er sikker på, at læserne vil blive betaget ved Stålen under silken.

MISS IKKE ANDRE INDLÆG OM LÆSNING & amp; SKRIV HISTORISK FIKTION. FØLG EN HISTORISK SKRIVER


Elfgifu (ca. 963–1002)

Englændernes dronning. Navnevariationer: Aelfgifu eller Ælfgifu Elfled, Elfreda, Elgifu. Født omkring 963 døde i februar 1002, i Winchester, England datter af Thored, undertiden omtalt som Ethelbert, og Hilda blev første kone til Aethelred eller Ethelred II the Unready (ca. 968–1016), englændernes konge (r. 979 –1013, afsat, 1014–1016), hos 985 børn: Athelstan eller Ethelstan the Atheling (d. 1015) Egbert (d. Omkring 1005) Edmund II Ironside (c. 989–1016), konge af englænderne (r. 1016 ) Edred (d. Omkring 1012) Eadwig (eller Edwy, d. I 1017) Edgar (d. Omkring 1012) Edith (hvem m. Edric Streona og Thurkil den høje) Elfgifu (c. 997– ?, hvem m. Uchtred, jarl i Northumberland) Wulfhild (som m. Ulfcytel), og to andre. Ethelred IIs anden kone var Emma fra Normandiet (c. 985–1052).

Både middelalderlige og moderne forfattere har antydet, at Emma ikke elskede Ethelred og hendes børn af ham. For eksempel Worcester -versionen af Angelsaksisk krønike noter for Edwards tiltrædelsesår:

[T] han blev rådet til at ride fra Gloucester, og [med] jarl Leofric og jarl Godwine og jarl Siward og deres band kom til Winchester og tog fruen uforvarende og fratog hende alle de skatte, hun besad, som var utallige, fordi hun havde været for streng med kongen, hendes søn, ved at hun havde gjort mindre for ham, end han ville, både før hans tiltrædelse og bagefter.

Der er imidlertid ingen klare beviser for Emmas private følelser - eller mangel på dem - for hendes første familie, Ethelred's tildeling af byer, varer og godser til hende i løbet af deres ægteskab tyder på, at foreningen indeholdt en vis kærlighed. For eksempel fik Emma Winchester og Exeter samt andre ejendomme op til slutningen af ​​Ethelreds regeringstid.

Vikingetruslen mod det angelsaksiske England blev intensiveret i tiden efter 1002. I 1013 var situationen så farlig, at Emma flygtede til sin brors hof i Normandiet, og Ethelred sendte deres børn kort tid efter for at slutte sig til hende. Selvom ingen af ​​kilderne beskriver hendes aktiviteter i perioden 1013–1017, forsøgte hun måske at bruge sin stilling som hertug Richard IIs søster til at få hjælp til sin mand og sønner. Den danske konge Sweyn Forkbeards magtfulde kræfter og efter sidstnævntes død i 1013, hans søn Canute, resulterede imidlertid i en farligt kaotisk atmosfære i England. Fra 1014 til 1016 var Ethelred og Edmund II Ironside, en søn ved sit første ægteskab, uenige om, hvilke handlinger der skulle foretages mod Canutes danskere. Da Ethelred døde den 23. april 1016, kom hans ældste overlevende søn Edmund Ironside til tronen. Det Angelsaksisk krønike registrerer, at Edmund nåede til enighed med Canute, der delte England mellem dem. Men i slutningen af ​​1016 døde Edmund, og kort tid efter, i 1017, blev Canute udråbt til konge af England.

Emma stod over for en knibe: hendes søn Edward var alt for ung til at føre en effektiv kampagne mod den danske konge i England, og hun var selv stadig i Normandiet. Canutes forslag om ægteskab i sommeren 1017 må derfor tilsyneladende slet ikke have været forkasteligt for den enke dronningsmor: frem for at betragte Canute som sin afdøde mands dødsfjende, så hun ham som et redskab til at genetablere sin egen position som Englands førende dame. Formentlig kunne hun enten oprette et nyt dynasti med sin nye mand eller forblive i stand til at presse krav på sine sønner af Ethelred. Flere samtidige opfattelser af hendes ægteskab med Canute leveres af de forskellige kronikere. Det Encomium sætter et gunstigt ansigt på ægteskabet:

I betragtning af hendes fornemme kvaliteter ... var hun meget ønsket af kongen, og især fordi hun stammede fra sit sejrrige folk, der havde tilegnet sig en del af Gallien, trods franskmændene og deres prins.

Selvom deltageren ikke dvæler ved de mere praktiske aspekter af et sådant forslag, er det vigtigt at overveje, at Canute må have været klar over, at Emmas sønner af Ethelred, Edward og Albert, var potentielle modtagere af bistand fra deres magtfulde normanniske onkel, Richard II ved at gifte sig med drengenes mor, kunne Canute forvente, at Richard II tilbageholdt sådan støtte fra sine nevøer.

Inden Emma gik med til at gifte sig med Canute, insisterede hun imidlertid på en gensidig aftale om, at deres børn af tidligere fagforeninger ville blive afsat i arvefølgen til fordel for ethvert afkom, de måtte have sammen. Det Encomium fortæller, at:

[S] han nægtede nogensinde at blive Knútrs brud, medmindre han ville bekræfte hende med ed, at han aldrig ville oprette søn af en anden hustru end hende selv til at herske efter ham, hvis det skete, at Gud skulle give hende en søn af ham. For hun havde oplysninger om, at kongen havde fået sønner af en anden kvinde, så hun, klogt at sørge for hendes afkom, vidste i sin visdom, hvordan hun på forhånd skulle arrangere, hvilket skulle være til deres fordel.

Den "anden kvinde", der havde født sønner til Canute, var Elfgifu fra Northampton (ca. 1000 – c. 1040), en engelsk kvinde, der tilsyneladende var Canutes konkubine frem for kone. På trods af den tvivlsomme legitimitet for Elfgifus sønner Sweyn og Harald Harefoot synes Canute at have betragtet dem som troværdige kandidater til tronen, selvom han accepterede Emmas krav om, at deres egne børn skulle have forrang.

Emma og Canute blev gift i juli eller august 1017, og inden for få år blev deres søn Hardicanute født. Det Encomium optegner, at de sendte deres andre børn væk (fra deres tidligere fagforeninger), "mens de havde denne hos sig selv, for så vidt han skulle være arving til riget." De havde et andet barn, en datter, der hed Gunhild , der giftede sig med den tyske kejser Henry III i 1036.

Ved at undersøge placeringen af ​​Emmas navn på officielle dokumenter er det muligt at spekulere i graden af ​​hendes indflydelse. For eksempel den seneste redaktør af Encomium antyder, at den lave placering af hendes navn på kongelige dokumenter tidligt i hendes ægteskab med Canute betyder, at hun ikke havde nogen indflydelse på retten, men den mere fremtrædende position for hendes underskrift efter 1020 afspejler hendes forbedrede status som mor til Hardicanute, den nye arving. Emmas position som dronning og dronning-mor tillod hende også at give mange velgørende donationer til kirker i hele England under hendes anden mands regeringstid.

Da Canute uventet døde i 1035, stod Emma i en ekstremt udfordrende situation. Hendes sønner med Ethelred, Edward og Albert, var blevet i Normandiet siden 1017 alle hendes ambitioner for Englands trone var centreret om hendes søn med Canute, Hardicanute. På trods af sin unge alder regerede Hardicanute i Danmark på tidspunktet for sin fars død. Hans halvbror, Harald Harefoot, var den eneste af Canutes tre sønner, der var til stede i England på tidspunktet for sin fars død, da Elfgifu fra Northampton havde ledsaget sin ældste søn Sweyn til Norge, hvor han forsøgte at opretholde orden. Emma hævdede straks England for Hardicanute, men hendes påstand var ineffektiv uden den faktiske tilstedeværelse af hendes søn. Hardicanute stod over for politiske vanskeligheder i Danmark: han var nødt til at blive der for at forhindre et norsk angreb, for nordmændene under deres konge Magnus havde bortvist Elfgifu og Sweyn, og disse to søgte tilflugt hos Hardicanute sidst i 1035. Da Sweyn døde ved Hardicanutes domstol kort derefter , konkurrenceområdet for Canutes kongeriger indsnævret: Elfgifu af Northamptons søn Harald Harefoot betragtede sig selv som sin fars arving i England og Hardicanute, der ikke var i stand til at slutte sig til sin mor, blev tvunget til at stole på Emmas indsats på stedet på hans vegne.

Peterborough -versionen af Angelsaksisk krønike registrerer, at de engelske adelige handlede hurtigt for at sikre en stabil regering i England efter Canutes død, og bemærker, at der hurtigt udviklede fraktioner omkring de to kongelige kandidater. Nordenglænderne støttede Harald Harefoot som regent for sig selv og sin halvbror, men:

Godwine og alle de mest fremtrædende mænd i Wessex forblev i opposition så længe de kunne, men de kunne ikke hindre nogen hindring. Derefter blev det besluttet, at [Emma], Harthacnuts mor, skulle bo i Winchester med kongen, hendes søns hus, og holde alle Wessex i tillid til ham, og jarl Godwine var hendes mest betroede tilhænger.

Den mægtige jarl Godwine (far til Harald Godwineson, den engelske konge, der blev besejret af Vilhelm Erobreren i 1066) viste sig at være en forræderisk allieret over for Emma, ​​for året efter, da Harald Harefoot magt støt voksede, skiftede Godwine sin troskab. Emma i 1036 appellerede til sine sønner i Normandiet om at hjælpe hende. Alfred ankom til England for at slutte sig til sin mor i Winchester, men Godwine fangede og blindede den unge prins, og Alfred døde af sine skader kort tid efter. Godwines forræderi afspejler den stigende styrke ved Harald Harefoot sidstnævnte var modtageren af ​​hans halvbror Hardicanutes optagethed af danske anliggender.

Da englænderne i 1037 anerkendte Harald Harefoot som deres konge, blev Emma drevet ud af landet og søgt tilflugt i Flandern hos sin slægtning, grev Baldwin V. Hendes eksil i Brugge varede fra det sene efterår 1037 til 1040. I løbet af denne tid, ifølge Encomium, Emma kontaktede sin søn Edward i Normandiet og inviterede ham til at slutte sig til hende ved Baldwin V's hof. Da hun foreslog, at han skulle handle i England, "erklærede sønnen, at han ynkede sin mors ulykker, men at han på ingen måde var i stand til at hjælpe, da de engelske adelsmænd ikke havde svoret ham ed." Implikationen var, at det kun var Hardicanute, der kunne støtte Harald Harefoot. I 1039 kunne Hardicanute slutte sig til Emma i Flandern, og de to planlagde en invasion af England. Men Harald Harefoot død i marts 1040 eliminerede behovet for en invasion, og i juni 1040 landede Hardicanute og Emma ved Sandwich. Emma og Canutes søn blev omsider anerkendt som konge af England.

Det Encomium, skrevet under Hardicanutes korte regeringstid 1040–1042, fastslår, at han efter sin tronbestigelse sendte efter sin halvbror Edward for at slutte sig til ham i regeringen i England, hvor enheden slutter sit arbejde med den optimistiske observation, at:

moderen og begge sønner, uden at der er uenighed mellem dem, nyder rigets klare faciliteter. Her der er loyalitet blandt styreherrer, her er båndet mellem moderlig og broderlig kærlighed en styrke, der er uforgængelig.

Kortheden af ​​Hardicanutes regeringstid tillod ikke broderlig rivalisering i juni 1042, ifølge Angelsaksisk krønike, Hardicanute døde "da han stod ved sin drink."

Således blev Emmas søn med Ethelred, Edward Bekenderen, valgt til konge i 1042. Emmas status som dronning-mor tog en dramatisk drejning til det værre: måneder efter sin kroning i 1043 fratog Edward sin mor hendes ejendomme og rigdom. Selvom kilderne ikke klart angiver årsagen til Edwards handling mod sin mor, er der to versioner af Angelsaksisk krønike fastslå, at forløsningen opstod "fordi hun havde været for stram med hende." Derudover kan Edward have ærgret sig over Emmas tidligere handlinger, der favoriserede Hardicanute frem for hans og Alfreds interesser som følge af Emmas ægteskabelige aftale med Canute i 1017.

Imidlertid blev Emma og Edward forsonet kort tid efter, for i 1044 og 1045 var hun vidne til kongelige dokumenter. Men i 1045, da Edward giftede sig Edith (c. 1025–1075), Godwines datter - den samme Godwine, der havde været ansvarlig for blænding og død af Emmas søn Alfred - Emmas indflydelse på Edward sluttede. Hendes navn fremgår ikke af andre kongelige dokumenter, og hun boede stille i Winchester indtil hendes død den 6. marts 1052.

Det er ret ironisk, at Emma, ​​der arbejdede så hårdt i hele sit liv for at udøve sin kongelige indflydelse gennem sine ægtemænd og sønner, frembragte sønner, der var dynastiske blindgyder: Alfred og Hardicanute var ugift og temmelig unge, da de døde, og Edward, der regerede indtil hans død i januar 1066, forblev barnløs trods sit ægteskab med Edith. Emmas 50-årige karriere som dronning og dronning-mor producerede på sigt en normannisk erobrer på tronen.


Tag: Emma fra Normandiet

Der er meget lidt historisk information om kong Cnut, selvom han var den mest magtfulde konge i Nordeuropa i begyndelsen af ​​ellevte århundrede. Han var konge af Danmark og England, en tid konge af Norge og muligvis herre over en del af Sverige.

England havde lidt under kong Aethelred the Unready's svage og ineffektive regeringstid i næsten otteogtredive år. Kongeriget England var i ruiner, og folket var klar til fred. Efter kong Aethelreds søn Edmund Ironsides død, godkendte det engelske folk danskeruten som deres konge. Cnut begyndte sit styre med frygt. Han tøvede ikke med at dræbe dem, der forsøgte at sætte spørgsmålstegn ved hans autoritet. Til sidst slap han grebet. Han legitimerede sin autoritet ved at fjerne indfødte rivaler, gifte sig med sin forgængers dronning, opretholde kontinuiteten i regeringen og handle på alle måder som en retfærdig og retfærdig konge. På denne måde opnåede han danskernes og englændernes støtte og kunne uden tvivl kaldes englernes første konge.

Vikingeangrebene under kong Aethelreds regeringstid startede i 980’erne. I november 1002 beordrede Aethelred massakren på alle danskerne i området i det nordlige England kendt som Danelaw. Desværre blev søsteren til kong Sweyn af Danmark dræbt under slagtningen. I en mulig personlig vendetta begyndte Sweyn en langvarig kampagne mod Aethelred og englænderne.

Sweyn havde en søn ved navn Cnut, hvis fødselsdato anslås til engang mellem 988 og 995. Cnuts mor var højst sandsynligt en navngiven søster til den polske konge Boleslaw I. Optegnelserne fortæller os intet om Cnuts barndom, men sagaerne siger, at han var høj, stærk og smuk. Da Cnut var gammel nok, kan han have sluttet sig til sin far på kampagne i England. Vi ved, at han kom til England i 1013 og efterlod kontrollen over den danske flåde i nord. Det var i løbet af denne tid, at han tog en kone i et muligt forsøg på at styrke sin position. Hun blev kaldt Aelfgifu, datter af Aelfhelm, der havde været ealdorman i Northumbria indtil hans mord i 1006. Denne forening blev aldrig anerkendt af kirken og i 1017 havde parret to sønner, Sweyn og Harold (Harefoot).

Kong Sweyn formåede at overskride det meste af England og i slutningen af ​​1013 havde englænderne underkastet ham, og han blev navngivet som konge af England. Aethelred, hans anden kone Emma i Normandiet og deres sønner blev tvunget i eksil i Normandiet. Sweyns regeringstid havde kun varet et par måneder, da han døde den 3. februar 1014. Hæren udråbte Cnut til konge, men det engelske folk inviterede Aethelred tilbage, hvis han lovede at regere bedre, end han havde før.

Aethelred handlede ukarakteristisk med hastighed og styrke og drev Cnut og hans styrker ud på havet. Cnut besluttede ikke at trykke på punktet på dette tidspunkt og vendte tilbage til Danmark. På vej tilbage droppede han nogle gidsler, han havde i besiddelse minus deres ører, næser og hænder.

Cnut besluttede at invadere England i september 1015. Aethelred var syg, og hans søn Edmund rejste og førte den engelske hær til at bekæmpe angrebene. Ved jul anerkendte befolkningen i Wessex Cnut som konge og hyldede. Den 23. april 1016 døde kong Aethelred, og mændene i kongens råd valgte sammen med borgerne i London Edmund til konge. Men der var andre rådmænd, biskopper, abbeder og ealdormen, der valgte Cnut som konge i Southampton.

Edmund Ironside kæmper med King Canute i slaget ved Assandun den 18. oktober 1016 (Billede i det offentlige domæne)

Det var tid til et opgør mellem de to mænd. Cnut begyndte en mislykket belejring af London og havde samtidig plyndringshære, der engagerede Edmund i flere kampe. Det sidste engagement fandt sted den 18. oktober 1016 i Assandun, og Edmund blev besejret. Mange af den engelske adel døde i slaget, men Edmund ville leve for at rejse en anden hær. Cnut besluttede at forhandle om en midlertidig våbenhvile, og de to mænd mødtes i Alney. Edmund ville beholde kongeriget Wessex og Cnut havde resten af ​​England. Den 30. november var Edmund død. Han blev enten forgiftet eller stukket efter ordre fra Cnut eller Eadric Streona fra Mercia, eller han kan være kommet til skade ved Assandun og døde af sine sår. Konsekvensen af ​​hans død var, at Cnut nu var herre i hele England.

Cnut var ung og uerfaren i regeringen. Han delte England i fire dele og gav kontrol over disse kongeriger til vigtige mænd. East Anglia gik til den danske Thorkell den Høje. Eadric Streona beholdt Mercia. Northumbria blev holdt af Eric af Norge, og Cnut beholdt Wessex for sig selv. I første omgang var Cnuts styre i England hårdt. Inden udgangen af ​​1017 lod Cnut Eadric Streona myrde sammen med fire andre ealdormen. Men han udslettede ikke den saksiske adel, fordi han erkendte, at han havde brug for dem til at opretholde det etablerede regeringsapparat, der eksisterede i England.

For at forhindre Aethelreds sønner Edward og Alfred i at udfordre sin autoritet, giftede han sig med deres mor dronning Emma i juli 1017. At gifte sig med Emma bevarede kontinuitet med det tidligere dynasti, og han kom til at stole på hendes erfaring og politiske skarpsindighed. Det faktum, at han allerede var gift, kan have forårsaget forlegenhed, men han afviste ikke sin første kone. Måske var Aelfgifu hans elskerinde eller hans “håndfaste” kone i den skandinaviske tradition. Det blev antaget, at børnene af Aelfgifu var arvinger til Danmarks og Norges troner, mens Emmas børn af Cnut ville være arvinger til Englands trone. Emma havde to overlevende børn med Cnut, en søn Harthacnut og en datter Gunhilda.

Tegning, der viser dronning Emma (Aelfgifu) og kong Cnut (billede i det offentlige domæne)

I 1018 kæmpede Cnut omkring tredive vikingemandskaber, der var kommet ind i engelsk farvand. Cnut ville ikke beholde en stor og farlig hær og flåde i England og havde brug for kontanter for at betale dem af. Fordi den engelske regering havde mekanismen til at opkræve skatter, var han i stand til at rejse 82.500 pund og betale hæren, så de kunne vende tilbage til Danmark. Han reducerede flåden til fyrre skibe. Han kaldte derefter et råd af englændere og danskere i Oxford. Forholdet blev normaliseret mellem Danelaw og resten af ​​England. Alle var enige om at leve i fred, og Cnut var enige om at regere i henhold til de traditioner og love, der var på tidspunktet for kong Edgar den Fredsommelige, Aethelreds far.

Knuts bror, kong Harald af Danmark døde i 1018, så Cnut rejste dertil for at kræve tronen for sig selv og afvikle sager der. Der var lidt problemer i England, mens han var væk. Han opholdt sig i Danmark i løbet af vinteren 1019-1020. Mens han var der, skrev han og sendte et brev til det engelske folk, der lovede at beskytte dem mod angribere og udføre og håndhæve landets love.

I 1020 kaldte Cnut et råd i Cirencester. Han forviste Aethelweard, ealdorman i de vestlige provinser. Vi ved ikke hvorfor, men han har muligvis konspireret mod Cnut. Der var ballade mellem Cnut og Thorkell den Høje i 1021. Cnut udråbte Thorkell til fredløs og forviste ham til eksil i Danmark. I 1022-3 foretog Cnut endnu en tur til Danmark, hvor han forsonede sig med Thorkell og gjorde ham til regent og plejefar til sin søn Harthacnut.

I 1023 registrerer den angelsaksiske krønike festlighederne ved en uges ceremoni, hvor resterne af den hellige angelsaksiske ærkebiskop Aelfheah fra Canterbury blev oversat fra London til Canterbury og begravet igen. Aelfheah var blevet myrdet af danskerne elleve år før. Cnut havde nu sonet for grusomhederne fra fortiden og blev forsonet med det engelske folk.

Den angelsaksiske krønike går derefter meget stille om Cnut's regeringstid. Hvilke små bidder vi har nævner begivenheder langvejs fra. Cnut invaderede Sverige i 1026 og kæmpede i slaget ved Holy River. Det er uklart, om han vandt eller tabte kampen, men det ser ud til, at han har regeret en del af Sverige for en tid. I 1028 erobrede han Norge, og i 1030 placerede han sin søn Sweyn og hans kone Aelfgifu som konge og regent der. Men Aelfgifu var dårlig til at styre, og da Cnut døde i 1035, var hun og hendes søn blevet drevet ud af Norge af kong Magnus.

I 1027 tog Cnut en tur til Rom for at deltage i kroningen af ​​kejser Conrad II. Conrads søn Heinrich ville gifte sig med Knuts datter Gunhilda i 1036. Mens Cnut var i Rom, blev han accepteret og behandlet som en ligemand med de andre herskere. Hans rejse var en rungende succes. Han ville rejse til Rom igen i 1031.

Cnut indså, at han skulle etablere god vilje med kirken i England og gjorde, hvad han skulle gøre for at komme sammen med ærkebiskop Wulfstan i York og ærkebiskop Lyfing fra Canterbury. Han blev mere from og gav overdådige gaver til kirken for at opnå gunst. Wulfstan og Cnut arbejdede på de allerede etablerede lovregler for de saksiske konger og forstærkede og forbedrede dem.

Omkring 1031 forsøgte Cnut at pålægge sin myndighed over Skotland og Wales. Han havde tilsyneladende ikke så stor succes i Wales, men han besøgte dog Skotland. Det er uklart, om han tog en hær, eller om det var en diplomatisk mission. Han kom til enighed med kong Malcolm II af Skotland og to andre underkonger og fik kontrol over Bernicia.

Toward the end of his reign, Cnut began to rely more on English as well as Danish noblemen. He had made Godwin earl of Wessex and Leofric was in control of Mercia. He reduced the number of ships in his fleet from forty to sixteen. He had significantly raised taxes to pay for his army and fleet and bodyguard of housecarls. The English people suffered from the heavy tax burden but in return enjoyed peace and economic prosperity. He had earned the support of the people by ruling according to Anglo-Saxon tradition and enforcing the laws. He was respected and admired.

After a reign of nineteen years, Cnut died at Shaftesbury on November 12, 1035. He was buried in Winchester Cathedral. His policy of dividing the kingdom may have weakened the monarchy, giving the earls great power during his absences from England. He most likely intended for his son Harthacnut to succeed him. At the time of Cnut’s death, Harthacnut was in Denmark entangled in a struggle with Magnus of Norway and couldn’t leave without possibly losing his kingdom. Queen Emma and Earl Godwin wanted Harthacnut to become king of England while Aelfgifu and Earl Leofric were advocating for Harold Harefoot. The two sons of Aethelred, Edward and Alfred also had a claim to the throne. Because Harthacnut was delayed and Edward and Alfred were in exile in Normandy, the English elected Harold Harefoot king but the stage was set for another struggle for the English throne.

Further reading: “Cnut: England’s Viking King 1016-1035” by MK Lawson, “British Kings and Queens” by Mike Ashley, The Kings and Queens of Anglo-Saxon England” by Timothy Venning, “The Fall of Saxon England” by Richard Humble, entry on King Cnut in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by MK Lawson


Emma of Normandy

Emma of Normandy was a very pivotal character in the transition from the rule of Saxons in England to that of the Normans. She was a Norman noble who was wife of two English Kings, and the mother of two others. She was also the great-aunt of William the Conqueror, and greatly influenced evolution of power from Saxons, to Danes, and finally to the Normans.

C ANUTE AND Q UEEN E MMA
Emma was a Norman princess who was sought in marriage by two Kings of England—first Aethelred the Unready, and later his Danish archrival Canute the Great. In both cases the match was politically important because Normandy had risen in power and influence to the point that it was the most powerful region of France, and a critically important ally. In the ongoing wars between the Saxon and Danish kings of England, both sides sought Normandy as an ally, and feared it as an enemy. In both cases, however Emma was taken as a second wife, and sons existed from a previous marriage, so the right of her sons to rule England could not be assured. In the case of her marriage to Canute, she insisted that any sons born to her and Canute be given predominance in succession over his older brother, but this guarantee was of limited value, since Hardicanute was still a boy when his father died, and his elder half-brother insisted on asserting his claim.

Emma's previous marriage to Aethelred the Unready had produced two sons, Alfred and Edward. While they were still boys however, military reversals in England caused the whole family to take refuge at the court of their Norman relations. Alfred and Edward were therefore, raised in Normandy, very influenced by Norman customs, and well acquainted with the family of their younger cousin, William the Conqueror. On the death of Aethelred, Emma married Canute and in the process repudiated the claims of her own Saxon sons to the crown of England in favor of future sons born to her and Canute. This naturally alienated her existing sons, and there was never again trust or closeness in their relationship.

Emma reigned as Canute's queen for eighteen years, both on his death, there was contention for the crown between her son Hardicanute and his elder brothers. After considerable conflict, both sons of Canute, as well as Alfred, her Saxon son were killed, and Edward the Confessor, who had taken no part in the conflicts, and never sought the throne, was crowned King of England. By this time, however, he had been living in Normandy for nearly thirty years and was thoroughly Normanized by custom. Since he died without issue, he preferred to leave his kingdom to his Norman cousin, William the Conqueror, and so England fell into the hands of the Normans more by the neglect of Emma, than by her attentions or design.


On the Life & Early Death of the Ætheling Athelstan

Athelstan was the eldest son of King Æthelred II of England. One of at least 9 brothers and sisters, Athelstan was born sometime in the mid-to-late 980s—we don’t know the exact year—and he died on 25 June 1014 at about the age of 28. His name never appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, although for most of his brief life he was recognized as the presumed heir to his father’s throne.

All of the king’s sons were named after earlier kings of Wessex, and all were considered throne-worthy. Athelstan had been named after the king’s great-uncle, King Athelstan (d.939), who had been the first king of Wessex to unite all of England, at least for a time. In the 11 th century King Athelstan would have been perceived as the most renowned and important of the royal forebears—even more so than his grandfather Alfred the Great, so it is significant that the king chose that name for his first-born son.

Athelstan’s mother, Ælfgifu, was the daughter of Thored, the ealdorman of Northumbria, and her marriage to Æthelred likely served to strengthen ties between the king and his northern lords. As a result of these northern relations, Athelstan and his brothers would, throughout their lives, have some natural affinity with the nobility of the northern Danelaw.

Their mother Ælfgifu was never crowned queen of England nor, apparently, was she responsible for the upbringing of her sons. Athelstan and his younger brothers seem to have spent their early years with their paternal grandmother at her estate of Æthelingdene in West Sussex. They don’t appear on the historical record until 993, when Athelstan was about 7. In that year he and three of his brothers signed charters for the first time. Their grandmother, the Dowager Queen Ælfthryth, signed just ahead of them. Presumably, he and his siblings accompanied her to court that year for the first time. On all of the numerous witness lists that follow over the next 20 years Athelstan’s name appears first among his brothers, giving him precedence over them. Nevertheless, upon the death of their mother in 1001, change was in the wind. The king remarried, and the king’s new wife, Emma of Normandy, gave birth to a son, Edward, in 1005. Athelstan would have been about 19, and it is quite likely that the arrival of this new sibling gave rise to certain doubts and questions among the king’s elder sons about the line of succession.

Historian N.J. Higham suggests that although Athelstan perceived himself as the accepted heir to the throne, it is not clear that the king agreed with him. With the birth of Emma’s son, there may have been a serious movement to promote young Edward as next in line for the throne. If so, Athelstan and his brothers would have had good reason to oppose it, possibly causing a rupture between the king and his eldest sons.

Nevertheless, Athelstan was a wealthy young lord. He owned land in at least 10 counties of south-eastern England, and he was a donor to religious houses at Winchester, Canterbury, Shaftesbury and Ely. He had a household and retainers, and he was friends with a number of significant men in Sussex, Yorkshire, East Anglia, the Five Boroughs and southwest Mercia. And although from 1006 onwards the king excluded some regionally powerful northern kindred from his court, Athelstan retained strong links with them.

Athelstan’s Estates, as mentioned in his will.

Over the next 7 years, increasing military pressure by viking armies led to turmoil in England and disrupted the royal family even more. Athelstan and his brothers would have been involved in their father’s military planning, while their younger half-siblings would have been associated with Emma’s household. By the year 1012 three of Athelstan’s younger brothers had died. In 1013, when Swein Forkbeard and his army overran English defenses—probably with the aid of a secret accord between Swein and the northern lords—Emma and her children fled to Normandy. King Æthelred followed them, but his eldest sons did not.

Emma’s biographer Pauline Stafford suggests that the elder æthelings remained in England, and that when Swein Forkbeard died in early 1014 Athelstan may have made a bid for the empty throne. As it turned out, King Æthelred returned that spring to drive out the Danes and punish the northerners who had supported them. And on the 25 th of June, Athelstan died. We don’t know the cause of his death. We only know that his brother Edmund was at his side, and that Athelstan had time to make a will. It is the will that tells us what little we know about the ætheling.

The first thing that he did in that will was to free his slaves—men who were penally enslaved and under his jurisdiction. He bequeathed to various friends and relatives a coat of mail, two shields, a drinking horn, a silver-coated trumpet, a string of fine horses, and eleven swords. One of those swords was apparently a valued family heirloom—the sword of Offa perhaps the sword that Charlemagne had sent to King Offa of Mercia in 796. It went to Athelstan’s brother, Edmund, who would take his place as the eldest ætheling. Athelstan left properties and estates to his father, to Edmund, to his chaplain, his foster-mother, to various servants and friends, and to several religious houses. I think the bequest that says the most about him was this one: “And I grant to Godwine, Wulfnoth’s son, the estate at Compton which his father possessed.” King Æthelred had confiscated that estate from Wulfnoth and I can’t help thinking that in bequeathing it to Godwine, Athelstan believed that he was righting a wrong.

Athelstan was buried at the Old Minster in Winchester. He was the first non-king to be buried there in over 90 years. It’s possible that his remains are among the royal bones that lay for centuries in the mortuary chests above the cathedral altar and that are now under study. If so, we may one day learn more about this royal son who never became king.

The mortuary chests in Winchester Cathedral.

Kilder:
Æthelred the Unready, Levi Roach
The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, Ed. Michael Lapidge
The Death of Anglo-Saxon England, N. J. Higham
English Historical Documents, D. Whitelock
Queen Emma & Queen Edith, Pauline Stafford


Emma of Normandy

Can you believe we’ve made it through another season? Ja! We are coming to an end of season four and we are going out with a BANG, y’all.

Emma of Normandy has entered the chat

This time we’re taking it back. Way back to the pre-Norman conquest when England was inhabited by the Anglo-Saxons. Among those people was a king. And he wasn’t ready (for this jelly).

Sorry, y’all. Art wasn’t good yet circa 980.

Ethelred the Unready has not gone down in history as like a particularly popular guy. And lucky Emma got to be his second bride in 1002 at the ripe old age of 16 (12 according to some sources) (ew). But Emma was ready to put her mark on the country by setting a new standard. She was not going to just be the king’s wife. She was going to be a Q U E E N . And yes. There was a big difference.

Emma’s time as queen was not a particularly peaceful one during the reign of her first husband and she had to witness war, genocide and even exile. But things turned around for her when her unready husband died and she got to upgrade to a hot, young Danish conquering king who in turn made her queen of three countries.

Emma and Cnut: couple goals

For many women of that time, that would be the end of her story. But after becoming the dowager queen for the second time in her life, her story was actually just kicking off!

In this two-parter season finale you’re going to go on a rollercoaster of events with us in the life of Emma of Normandy as she sets the stage for modern queenship in the early medieval period.


There are few women in late Anglo-Saxon England for whom we have as much information as Emma of Normandy. The wife of two kings, we find her name in charter witness lists, mentioned in chronicle entries and histories, and she also leaves to history the earliest biography of a secular English female political figure – the Encomium Emmae Reginae. That she commissioned it herself and that it is most often characterised as propagandist praise-narrative is, no doubt, problematic. But it remains a fascinating historical document that reveals glimpses of the events she operated within and sought to control and, perhaps more importantly, gives us a window into her political thought and strategies.

Now, my intent here was to write the marriage of King Cnut and Emma of Normandy in 1017. Historians tend to treat it with a somewhat casual acceptance, yet their marriage is somewhat surprising to the initiate in late Anglo-Saxon history. Emma’s first husband, King Æthelred II (the Unready), had died in London in April 1016, besieged in the city by the invading Cnut who sought to wrest the English crown from him. When Cnut ultimately did obtain the English kingship of his own right, the newly widowed Emma married him.

While it would be tempting to suggest that this was forced on her by the conquering Danish king, to do so would be to underestimate Emma. She was a savvy political player and appears to have formed a close relationship with Cnut that allowed her to increase her own political agency. During their marriage, Emma became the richest woman in England took an interest in ecclesiastical appointments (perhaps for a price) increased her land holdings was given equal prominence to the king contemporary portraiture (a unique development) became queen consort of Denmark and Norway and we even have some slight indications she may have performed as regent during Cnut’s overseas absences. Emma of Normandy is rightly remembered as a towering figure of late Anglo-Saxon political culture.

As interesting as that all sounds, when I got halfway through writing this post, I realised that half the damned thing was spent on her life with Æthelred, plus I’d feel pretty incomplete if we didn’t cover her fall from grace. Emma’s life was, you see, in many ways dictated by the Scandinavian raids and invasions of the early eleventh-century, and the responses to these taken by the ruling men around her. This is not to say that she lacked her own political agency – we’ve seen she could hold her own – yet it remains that her political fortunes rose and fell in line with the affections that the English king of the day held for her. And Emma’s political career in England lasted through five kingships. This becomes particularly problematic after Cnut’s death in 1035. However, I am getting ahead of the story here – but suffice it say, we’re not just sticking with Emma and Cnut, but will sketch out some of the more dramatic events of Emma’s political life.

Marriage to Æthelred II

Emma enters the historical record in 1002 when, according to the Angelsaksisk krønike, she was sent from the court of her brother, Duke Richard II of Normandy, to marry the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred II. We can only speculate as to their ages, but Emma was Æthelred’s second wife, and our best guess was that he was around 10 years old when he took the throne in 978 – so around 34 at this time. Emma, in contrast, is thought to have been born in the 980s, so as much as half the lad’s age. This was not a particularly unusual arrangement. Culturally, at 16 or 17, Emma would have been understood to be of marriageable age and, politically, the marriage was intended to normalise relations between the English and the Normans. Things had been tense throughout the past decade as the Normans provided safe harbourage to the vikings plaguing England’s shores. Although a treaty had been arranged with Duke Richard I in 991 in which he agreed to deny Æthelred’s enemies aid, his son Richard II came to the ducal throne in 996 and seemed to feel he was not bound to the treaty. Yet, it is something of an oversimplification to suggest that the wrangling between Æthelred and Richard II that brought Emma to the English court was just about the Scandinavians. Certainly if the main intent here was to force Normandy to stop allowing viking raiders to over-winter, it did not work. The vikings would be back.

Rather, as a reasonably new duke, Richard was apparently seeking to recast alliances with all his neighbours. While allowing the vikings to access Norman ports again could be evidence of a new ruler who was not yet in full possession of his powers, it could also be the act of a wily politician seeking to renegotiate the terms of the Anglo-Norman treaty. Within this context, we find Emma married to the Anglo-Saxon king as part of the negotiations – the first foreign-born consort in nearly a century. Yet Emma’s is just one of a series of political marriages Richard organised for his sisters with neighbouring powers, and her marriage to Æthelred should be read in this light.

Emma appears to have settled in well. She was given the English name Ælfgifu and, while Emma still appears as her name in some places, Ælfgifu is used in all official documents (with the exception of one slightly dodgy charter). Confusingly, Æthelred’s first wife was also an Ælfgifu, so small wonder that historians normally stick to Emma for our queen consort. Emma jumped right in, the first extant charter she witnessed dating to 1002, the same year as her marriage. Here she appears after the king and the archbishops, but before Æthelred’s sons and the bishops – so a bit of respect being accorded the teenage queen. A similar arrangement in found in another of 1004, in 1005 she appears before the archbishops, but behind the sons, and then from 1006 she is accorded the second witness position after the king. By this stage she had given birth to two sons and a daughter.

Her daughter, Godgifu, married into Norman nobility. Her son Alfred Ætheling would be caught by his political enemies, blinded, and later die in Ely around the year 1036. While her other son Edward, later known as ‘the Confessor’, would gain the crown in 1042 – which isn’t quite as happy an event as you would think for Emma.

Marriage to Cnut the Great

Now we must get on, otherwise this will turn into one of my epics again!

We’ve already noted the political context of Æthelred’s death and Cnut’s rise to power and, surprising as it may seem at first, his marriage to Emma was probably an intelligent political move. Firstly, Cnut was Danish. To rule his new English kingdom, it was in his interest to have someone well acquainted with Anglo-Saxon politics by his side. Secondly, dowager queens seeking to place their sons on the throne is something of a medieval trope. In fact, it will come up here in a moment. By bringing Emma into his confidence, and by having new heirs with her, he separated Alfred and Edward from the person who would have been their most potent support. Thirdly, it gave a sense of continuity to the political regime, which would have been important granted the year of fighting that had characterised the political discourse into 1017. Fourthly, it allowed Cnut to establish ties with Normandy, just as Æthelred had sought to do (Cnut in fact marries his own sister to Richard to cement that relationship). Lastly, for Emma it was a way to retain power. Her position as the wife of the ex-king and mother to rival claimants for the throne made her particularly vulnerable so long as she remained in England. Either she returned to Normandy to fade into obscurity or stayed with Cnut at the centre of English politics.

Cnut had to set aside his first wife in order to take up this political union. Her name was also Ælfgifu. Jep. Her marriage to Cnut had produced a potential heir, Harold Harefoot, who will be about to cause problems in a moment.

Det Encomium describes a loving relationship between Emma and Cnut. Gør det til det, du vil. They did have two children together though, Gunhild who became queen consort in Germany, and Harthacnut who would go on to claim both the crowns of Denmark and England. Emma continued to sign charters and exercise political power as noted above. Indeed, her partnership with Cnut was undoubtedly the pinnacle of her political career, but that is all about the change.

Now we’ve covered the political context of Emma’s two marriages, and that should really be enough for us here today. It will allow me to build some more detailed articles on Emma in the future, and we can keep moving through the chronology of Cnut’s reign in our Cnut-centred series of articles. But for the sake of completeness, let’s see how things end up for Emma.

It’s complicated and more than a little messy, so let’s skim through it.

Dowager Queen and Queen Mother

In 1035 Cnut died. Harthacnut was in Denmark, Alfred and Edward in exile in Normandy, guess who was around though? Ælfgifu and Harold. Harold quickly made a grab at the throne, while Emma, seeing political agency slip away from her, made a grab at the treasury in Winchester. Unfortunately for her, according to the Angelsaksisk krønike, Harold sent men to relieve her of those treasures shortly thereafter.

Technically Harold and Harthacnut reigned jointly until 1037, with Emma protecting Harthacnut’s interests from her base in Winchester. This was a formal decision made in council, though men like Godwine, the over-mighty earl of Cnut’s own making (and father of the future king Harold II Godwineson), resisted the division. Walking into this seething political stew came Alfred and Edward, Æthelred’s sons. Edward managed to escape back to Normandy, but Alfred was captured by Godwine and suffered the aforementioned fate. There is little reason to believe that Emma was anything but distraught at her son’s death, and she too would soon escape the turmoil and treachery of England. Whether or not she was the one who encouraged them to return in order to try shore up her position remains open for debate – I’m personally unconvinced. Yet, it is unlikely she sat passively in Winchester as the Encomium implies, and no doubt she manoeuvred to try retain power and undermine Harold (including being the likely originator of rumours around his legitimacy). Nonetheless, for the first time in three decades she lacked proximity to the throne and, unless Harthacnut returned to England, her political agency would lack potency.

And so it was that in 1037 Emma was driven into exile. But fast-forward three years, Harold is dead (of natural causes), Harthacnut returns to claim his throne, Emma is back! Edward is summoned to his brother’s side, no doubt in part to ensure the succession with Harthacnut childless at this time. But something is weighing on Emma’s mind. It is at this time the Encomium was composed – she was apparently nervous about the future, and the narrative of the text seeks to justify her behaviour and actions from the time of Cnut up until Harthacnut’s kingship. It takes particular interest in condemning Harold and laying Alfred’s death on him (distracting from the accusations levelled at her sometime ally Godwine). Harthacnut in turn is portrayed as an obedient son and worthy king, generous in sharing his power with his brother Edward. Not only justifying the past it seems, but laying out her hopes for the future. If, however, Emma’s vision in the Encomium was to shape that future, things did not turn out as she planned.

In 1042 Harthacnut died and her son Edward came to the throne. She appears to have witnessed one charter near the start of his reign, but then something happened and history is unkind to us here. In 1043 Edward moved against his mother, depriving her of all her wealth, all her lands, and her freedom of movement. Surely what she had expected, yet avoided, upon the death of her husbands, but likely something of a surprise with her son on the throne. And, unfortunately, we can only speculate why. Later chroniclers give something of an avaricious nature to her throughout her life, seeking the accumulation of wealth, and suggest that Edward was acting as a corrective to this. That rather plays into the ‘wicked mother’ trope so common in Anglo-Saxon saints’ lives, combining rather neatly with Edward’s later saintly reputation, and I don’t place to much stock in it. Other theories state that it was indeed by her encouragement that Edward and Alfred returned in 1036 to make a play for the throne, and that Edward therefore blamed Emma for his brother’s death. But it could be as simple as Edward, who came to the throne in his forties, having no need for a powerful mother creating an alternative political locus in his kingdom. Yes, he took her wealth, but left her enough to live on, repurposing the remainder to the use of the crown. Perhaps unkind, but not necessarily unwise. In the end, who knows?

And that, my friends, is the rise and fall of Emma of Normandy. She lived her remaining life with little of the power she had had in earlier decades, dying in 1052. She was, nonetheless accorded a royal burial in Winchester.

Please let us know if there is any aspect of her life on which you’d like us to go in-depth on for a focused future article.

  1. Feature image: Feature Image: King Cnut the Great, BL MS Stowe 944, f. 6 r.
  2. Alistair Campbell, ed., Encomium Emmae Reginae,reprint, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998 (1949).
  3. Stacey S. Klein, Ruling Women: Queenship and Gender in Anglo-Saxon Literature, Note Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006.
  4. Levi Roach, Æthelred the Unready, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.
  5. Pauline Stafford, Queen Emma and Queen Edith, Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.
  6. Dorothy Whitelock (ed.), Den angelsaksiske krønike, London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1965.
  7. Dorothy Whitelock, Anglo-Saxon Wills, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930.

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