why did emma of normandy marry cnut

Harthacnut was in Denmark, Alfred and Edward in exile in Normandy, guess who was around though? Now, my intent here was to write the marriage of King Cnut and Emma of Normandy in 1017. In July 1017, Cnut wed queen Emma, the widow of Æthelred and daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy. Emma jumped right in, the first extant charter she witnessed dating to 1002, the same year as her marriage. Ethelred dies/Edward & his brother sent to Normandy for safety Who did Emma marry? Scandinavian Legends of Hastings and Svolder, See our bibliographies on Biographical Studies and Chronicle Editions. This was resolved when it was announced that she and Cnut would marry. Emma returned to being the most powerful lady of the land. Cnut had to set aside his first wife in order to take up this political union. Unfortunately for her, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Harold sent men to relieve her of those treasures shortly thereafter. ( Log Out /  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. However, the assembly of magnates refuse… In the north, Cnut’s son by Aelgifu, Harald Harefoot was gaining more power, some say through Aelgifu’s bribery of nobles. At the time of her marriage, England was under constant attack from Viking raids. It also appears that eventually affection developed in the marriage and soon Emma was witnessing charters with Cnut. 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 enters the historical record in 1002 when, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, she was sent from the court of her brother, Duke Richard II of Normandy, to marry the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred II. She was the daughter of the Norman ruler Richard the Fearless and Gunnor. She died in 1052. Emma was twice Queen of England during the 11th century as the wife of both Aethelred the Unready and the Danish King Cnut, who was King of England from 1013-1036. Emma of Normandy receiving the ‘Encomium Emmae Reginae’ from its author, with her sons Harthacanute and Edward the Confessor in the background. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. That year, in August, he accompanied his father on his successful invasion of England. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter and join our 5,046 subscribers to stay up to date on History of Royal Women's articles! Emma of Normandy, England, The Royal Women Firstly, Cnut was Danish. He was not, in fact, entirely free to marry, as Cnut already had a wife, Aelfgifu of Northampton, who he did not repudiate. Emma of Normandy (c. 985–1052)Norman queen who married two English kings, gave birth to two English kings, and remained firmly in the center of the diplomatic and martial activities that rocked the Anglo-Saxon state. 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. He was the son of King Cnut the Great (who ruled Denmark, Norway, and England) and Emma of Normandy.When Cnut died in 1035, Harthacnut struggled to retain his father's possessions. If you liked this post, follow this blog and/or read the following blog posts: Cnut the Great, the Conquest of England, and the Puzzle of London, Danish Invasion, Viking Violence, and Cnut’s Mutilation of Hostages at Sandwich, King Eadwig, St Dunstan, and the Ménage à Trois – Propaganda in the Anglo-Saxon Court, The King Lives! [6] The marriage probably saved her sons, as Cnut tried to rid himself of rival claimants, but spared their lives. Emma probably lost all hope when word arrived soon afterwards that Edmund had died, leaving Cnut as sole ruler of England. My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. And Emma’s political career in England lasted through five kingships. Canute divides England into four earldoms - Northumbria Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. By 1016 Cnut had fully taken control of the kingdom after his father died. Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window). Although it is unclear under what circumstances this transpired, it is likely that she did not want to return to Normandy where she would no longer have the prestige that she enjoyed in England. Advertisement We are fortunate that enough evidence survives from the 11th and 12th centuries to provide insights into the lives, activities and roles expected of the women who married Normans, or who were themselves Norman and … She did not live to see her great-nephew William conquer England in 1066 and begin the Norman rule of England. Emma immediately tried to claim England for her son, Harthacnut, based on the promise Cnut made to Emma that he would 'never set up the son of any other woman to rule after him'. ( Log Out /  Canute, also known as Cnut, was a Danish king of England from 1016 to 1035. Indeed, her partnership with Cnut was undoubtedly the pinnacle of her political career, but that is all about the change. Although Emma seems to have eventually reconciled with her son, this marks the end of her active involvement in English affairs. Her marriage to Cnut had produced a potential heir, Harold Harefoot, who will be about to cause problems in a moment. In 1043 Edward moved against his mother, depriving her of all her wealth, all her lands, and her freedom of movement. The only impediment was that Cnut was already married to Aelfgifu, the daughter of a Northumbrian noble. Emma of Normandy was a very intriguing woman in medieval history, given both her personality but also her eccentric upbringing. The army proclaimed Cnut king but the English This too was short-lived. Lastly, for Emma it was a way to retain power. She commissioned a history, the Encomium Emmae Reginae (In praise of Queen Emma), which denigrated Harald as the son of a servant who had been foisted on Cnut by Aelfgifu and vowed for vengeance for her son Alfred. Emma of Normandy is rightly remembered as a towering figure of late Anglo-Saxon political culture. She claimed that the letter inviting Alfred to England had not been sent by her but was forged by Harald. December 10, 2016 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. Emma continued to sign charters and exercise political power as noted above. Why do you think it was important for Cnut to marry Emma? Learn how your comment data is processed. Alfred arrived first, was immediately waylaid by Harald Harefoot supporters, was blinded and died of his injuries. Emma of Normandy was an excellent propagandist and provided her own version of the year following 1017 (during Canute divided England into four earldoms: Wessex – controlled by Canute himself, Mercia controlled by Eadric Streona, Northumbria controlled by Erik of Hlathir and East Anglia controlled by Thorkell the Tall. 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. 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. 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. All Rights Reserved, The St. Brice’s Day Massacre: History, Archaeology, and Myth | The Postgrad Chronicles. Emma worked behind the scenes to promote her son Harthacnut as the legitimate heir. Her daughter, Godgifu, married into Norman nobility. 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. Just a little something to distract myself from a bereavement. He ‘was the emperor of five kingdoms … Denmark, England, Wales, Scotland and Norway’, according to the work known as In Praise of Queen Emma, written for his second wife, Emma of Normandy.. Learn how your comment data is processed. It’s complicated and more than a little messy, so let’s skim through it. Emma of Normandy, Wife of Aethelred the Unready and the Viking King Cnut Emma of Normandy was a real powerhouse. Make of that what you will. Edward fled back to Normandy. 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. How did Cnut cement and seal his conquest of England? We can only Unfortunately both of his sons, Harald Harefoot (born to his second wife, Emma of Normandy) and Hathacanute, (whose mother was Ælfgui of Northampton), just didn’t survive long enough to really embed the dynasty. 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. 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). 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. But something is weighing on Emma’s mind. In the meantime, Edward and Alfred, the sons of her first marriage, grew up at the Norman court with their young cousin William. 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. Æthelred’s widow, Emma, had taken refuge in Normandy during these dangerous years, but in 1017 Cnut sent for her, and she agreed to marry him – her husband’s enemy. Emma fled to the court of her relative Baldwin V of Flanders and Harald Harefoot was crowned King of England. 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. There are few women in late Anglo-Saxon England for whom we have as much information as Emma of Normandy. As a member of the House of Normandy, it was her connection that led to William of Normandy’s claim to the English throne. 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. The marriage produced three children, Alfred, Edward, who ruled England as Edward the Confessor, and Goda, Countess of Boulogne. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Within weeks Edmund Ironside died under mysterious circumstances, and without further ado, the English nobles agreed to surrender to Cnut, as their King. Emma appears to have settled in well. 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. 1027 Canute makes a … It takes particular interest in condemning Harold and laying Alfred’s death on him (distracting from the accusations levelled at her sometime ally Godwine). Her name was  also Ælfgifu. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Upon the sudden death of his father the following February, Canute was proclaimed king by the Danish army. In 1042 Harthacnut died and her son Edward came to the throne. We use cookies to ensure a personalised experience on our website. These continued particularly after Aethelred made an ill-advised decision to massacre all the Danes in his country. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. And that, my friends, is the rise and fall of Emma of Normandy. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Walking into this seething political stew came Alfred and Edward, Æthelred’s sons. Emma’s political alliances may also have contributed to the rise to power of Earl Godwin, father of King Harold II (reigned 1066), the opponent of William the Conqueror at the Battle … Cnut was illiterate, so she exercised her political influence during this time. 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. Yep. Then, in 1066, the ruler of Normandy, Duke William, decided … 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. 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 1035 Cnut died. Later he was to proclaim Harthacnut , his son by Emma, to be his heir; while Svein Knutsson and Harold Harefoot , his two sons from his marriage to Ælfgifu of Northampton , his handfast wife, were kept on the sidelines in the running to the throne. Sweyn’s reign had only lasted a few months when he died on February 3, 1014. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Emma was twice Queen of England during the 11th century as the wife of both Aethelred the Unready and the Danish King Cnut, who was King of England from 1013-1036. Cnut’s sons by both Aelfgifu and Emma, as well as Emma’s sons by Aethelred, all felt they had a claim to the throne. 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. Later chroniclers suggested that Emma’s her marriage to King Æthelred the Unready led to the Norman Conquest of Englandin 1066, since it meant that the dukes of Normandy became related to the Anglo-Saxon kings of England, gaining a hereditary claim to the English throne. She lived her remaining life with little of the power she had had in earlier decades, dying in 1052. 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. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories. 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. King Cnut and Emma of Normandy sing about how their beautiful marriage came to be. In revenge, the Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard and his son Cnut invaded England. Now we’ve covered the political context of Emma’s two marriages, and that should really be enough for us here today. She was the wife to two Kings and mother of two Kings. The vikings would be back. and advisors over to England when he became king in 1042 after Cnut’s son Harthacnut died. He confiscated her lands and sent her to live elsewhere. It appears that Emma negotiated that Aelfgifu would be set aside and any sons Emma produced would have precedence. Emma of Normandy was also the first recorded Queen mother of history, and it was she the mother of the famous saint king, Edward the Confessor and the consort of another conqueror, Cnut the Great, whom we also have already Copyright © 2019 The Postgrad Chronicles, Canute or Cnut the Great was born circa 985 to 995 AD and was the son of King Sweyn Forkbeard. His eyes were bette… Not interested? Feature image: Feature Image: King Cnut the Great, BL MS Stowe 944, f. 6 r. Little is known about his life before 1013. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. 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. 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. He was the son of Aethelred and Emma of Normandy (above). Queen Emma died in Winchester in 1052, and was buried 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. Now we must get on, otherwise this will turn into one of my epics again! 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. If, however, Emma’s vision in the Encomium was to shape that future, things did not turn out as she planned. 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. And, unfortunately, we can only speculate why. During the period of the Forkbeard’s raids (1002 - 1012 AD, when Sweyn Forkbeard led the Danish Vikings in a series of raids along the English South coast) England and Normandy … This becomes particularly problematic after Cnut’s death in 1035. We know more about her than any of the other Anglo-Saxon Queens In fact, it will come up here in a moment. Encomium Emmae Reginae , 2.16 The Witenagemot An Anglo-Saxon council of elders which helped to rule the country. Emma and Cnut Who Was Emma Emma (985 - 1052 AD) was the sister of Richard II,__ Duke of Normandy__. Rather, as a reasonably new duke, Richard was apparently seeking to recast alliances with all his neighbours. The Viking ships were using Norman ports to reprovision, and Aethelred was hoping that this alliance would provide some protection. Historians tend to treat it with a somewhat casual acceptance, yet their marriage is somewhat surprising to the initiate in late Anglo-Saxon history. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that he “took all his mother’s lands and more because earlier, she had kept it from him too firmly.” This was a public scandal, and Emma was considered much disgraced. Either she returned to Normandy to fade into obscurity or stayed with Cnut at the centre of English politics. There is much we do not know about her various motivations, but for 40 years she managed to survive and mostly prosper during extremely turbulent times. This was not a particularly unusual arrangement. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. 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. That she commissioned it herself and that it is most often characterised as propagandist praise-narrative is, no doubt, problematic. From Cnuts’ perspective, marrying the former queen gave his own Kingship some legitimacy. 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. 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. However, it was Emma who took the role of queen and she shared Cnut’s coronation. Biography Cnut was the ruler of substantial territories across northern Europe in the 11th century. 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. Cnut married Emma. ( Log Out /  Confusingly, Æthelred’s first wife was also an Ælfgifu, so small wonder that historians normally stick to Emma for our queen consort. MMA OF NORMANDY 980s - 1052 Emma was the only woman to be twice crowned Queen of England. Emma’ exile was not to last long. Emma’s political influence had far-reaching consequences. (Most scholars believe the letter was genuine.) All was resolved when Harald Harefoot conveniently died, and Emma and Harthacnut sailed for England where he was crowned King. St. Peter’s Church and Abbey in Ghent, Belgium. She was, nonetheless accorded a royal burial in Winchester. Edward managed to escape back to Normandy, but Alfred was captured by Godwine and suffered the aforementioned fate. 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). Ælfgifu and Harold. In the end, they decided to split the country. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Your email address will not be published. At the age of 13, she was married to the King Aethelred, some 20 years her senior. At a later date she This was a disaster. Burial places of the Queens and Consorts of England, Burial places of the Queens Consort of France, Burial places of the Queens and Consorts of Portugal, Burial Places of the Queens and Consorts of Spain, Carolina of Orange-Nassau – Ancestress of the Royal Houses of Europe, Queen Wilhelmina – A collection of articles. Emma was in England during these latest battles, but with Edmund Ironside’s death, she must have been uneasy about her future. He is chiefly famous for a legend about his failure to stop the waves coming up the beach, despite his kingly order. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. The Encomium describes a loving relationship between Emma and Cnut. Change ). Why did he not have a strong heir? As a member of the House of Normandy, it was her Edith of Wessex –lived about 1025 to December 18, 1075 – married January 23, 1045 – crowned as queen – they had no children Her father was Godwin, an English earl, and mother was Ulf, a sister of Cnut’s brother-in-law Simply click 'close' in the top right corner to continue reading! Despite the commissioning of ‘Encomium Emmae Reginae’ (In Memory of Queen Emma), a book of three volumes which looks at her marriage to Cnut and the right of her children to rule, Emma has been a forgotten Queen of England. Moniek Edmund II ( c. 990 - 1043 ), also known as Edmund Ironside, was King of England from 1016 until his death in 1043. Edward is summoned to his brother’s side, no doubt in part to ensure the succession with Harthacnut childless at this time. And so it was that in 1037 Emma was driven into exile. Queen Emma still held out against Cnut in London, but it was finally agreed that her sons should go to live in Normandy and she would marry Cnut. In the absence of Harthacnut, Emma turned to her children in Normandy and wrote to Alfred and Edward, inviting them to return to England for the first time in 20 years. Emma enters the historical record in 1002 when, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, she was sent from the court of her brother, Duke Richard II of Normandy, to marry the Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred II. The next few years were challenging ones for Emma as she navigated a constantly changing and unstable environment and played at being “Kingmaker”. Canute was the son of king Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark and his queen, the daughter of Mieszko I of Poland. Press "agree" if you are okay with this. Your data will be shared with Google and other ad vendors. Check your inbox or spam folder to confirm your subscription. While King Sweyn was off conquering England, Canute was left in charge of the remainder of the Danish army at Gainsborough.

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