Anne, the younger daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as the ‘kingmaker’ was married to both Margaret of Anjou’s son, the Lancastrian heir to the throne and after this death at the Battle of Tewkesbury to Richard of Gloucester, the last Yorkist king.
Anne and her older sister Isabel grew up at Middleham where they met George of Clarence and Richard. Unfortunately their father’s relationship with George and Richard’s brother, King Edward IV soured after Edward married Elizabeth Woodville. In 1470, Warwick switched sides resulting in Anne’s marriage to Edward of Lancaster.
Following Warwick’s death at the Battle of Barnet on 14 April 1471, Isabel and Anne became co-heiresses but their mother Anne Beauchamp, who was descended from the Despensers, had first to be declared legally dead before George could access his wife’s inheritance as Richard Neville was earl in jure uxoris. Anne remained countess of Warwick until her death in 1492 but her estates were nobbled by her sons-in-law, although in order to marry Anne, Richard effectively forewent much of his share. Anne had effectively become the ward of George and had no intention of sharing the kingmaker’s estates with anyone. Anne was probably destined for a nunnery but in the meantime the story went that she was hidden in the kitchens.
Richard, not known for his lack of perseverance, arranged for Anne to go into sanctuary and for a dispensation from the pope permitting their marriage. The wedding took place in 1472 and the couple returned to Middleham. Eventually Anne Beauchamp was permitted to join them. Isabel died in 1476 as a result of complications from childbirth or from TB. Anne Neville acquired some of her sisters estates as well as all but adopting her young son Edward.
Edward IV died in April 1483 and Richard was crowned in July having revealed to the world that Edward had married Elizabeth Woodville bigamously, rendering Edward V and his siblings illegitimate. Anne was crowned with him. Their only child, another Edward, became Prince of Wales. He died in Middleham in 1484 whilst his parents were journeying north to visit him. Anne, grieving for her only child, became unwell, probably from TB, and died in March 1485. She was buried in Westminster Abbey – Richard was said to have wept at her funeral although rumour already painted him as a wife killer plotting to marry his own niece. On the day Anne died there was a solar eclipse – it was said afterwards that Richard lost his favour with Heaven on the day his wife died.
I came across this on the C J Sansom Appreciation Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/15046129703/) as posted by one of its members. It made me smile and I hope that you enjoy it as well – and the C J Sansom Appreciation Society has some lovely posts.
The caption is Henry VIII’s wives if they hadn’t married him – they certainly look different when smiling.
According to existing records Elizabeth I was healthy and active child apart from teething problems as documented by Lady Margaret Bryan. However as she arrived at adolescence her health deteriorated and she began to experience a series of chronic ailments.
There were some very obvious additional stress factors to take into consideration – at six she’d gained her fifth step-mother, a cousin, Katherine Howard. Less than two years later Katherine was sent to the block.
In Katherine Parr Elizabeth found some sort of family life and stability, although on occasion wife number six’s head did not rest easy on her shoulders.
Not long after the death of her father, Thomas Seymour asked her to marry him. She was thirteen. Less that six weeks after Henry VIII’s death Thomas went on to marry Katherine Parr and Elizabeth found herself living in the same household as Seymour. It was not long before the thirty-eight year old began making in appropriate advances to the fourteen year old princess. Ultimately she was sent away from the household, Katherine died after giving birth to Seymour’s daughter and Seymour’s ambition became so great that he once again looked to a taking a Tudor bride. This resulted in his execution. Elizabeth now became ill and required the attended of Edward VI’s physicians.
When Mary Tudor became queen Elizabeth used her health – stomach ache in particular- to avoid attending mass. After Wyatt’s Rebellion in 1554 Elizabeth began to look ill – so much so that the French ambassador de Noailles reported that she was being poisoned. Mary’s doctors examined her and blamed her poor health on watery humours. And no wonder, Elizabeth spent the years between 1554 and 1558 dissembling. Just before Mary’s death Elizabeth became ill and complained of pain when moving. She also experienced painful swelling. One of the problems was that Mary and her advisors did not know whether she was really ill or not.
Elizabeth also experienced fainting fits, insomnia, debilitating headaches, nightmares and depression. There was much stress involved in the preparation to become Gloriana!
“The Medical Personnel of Elizabeth I (1558–1603).” The Royal Doctors, 1485-1714: Medical Personnel at the Tudor and Stuart Courts, by Elizabeth Lane Furdell, NED – New edition ed., Boydell & Brewer, Rochester, New York; Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2001, pp. 67–97. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt14brw4d.7. Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.
Taylor-Smither, Larissa J. “Elizabeth I: A Psychological Profile.” The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol. 15, no. 1, 1984, pp. 47–72. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2540839. Accessed 11 Jan. 2021.
I should have been clear that I was dating this from 1066. How did you do? I think there’s 15 clear cases of monarchs whose mothers were not queens of England and a further 3 who became queen after their children were born – but they were queens of England.
William the Conqueror’s mother was Herleva (1). Apparently Duke Robert the Devil or the magnificent depending on your view point spotted her doing the laundry by the river and the rest is history as they say.
Technically William Rufus’s mother wasn’t queen of England when he was born – Matilda of Flanders (i) only became queen in 1066 following the conquest and Rufus was born sometime between 1056 and 1060. She was very definitely queen of England by the time Henry I was born at Selby in 1068 – so I shall leave it up to you to count William Rufus in or not depending on your frame of mind.
King Stephen’s mother was Adela of Normandy (2), a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. She married Theobald III of Blois.
Henry II’s mother, the Empress Matilda (3) was never crowned so technically wasn’t the ruler.
Henry IV’s parents were John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III and his wife Blanche of Lancaster (4) – who very definitely wasn’t queen of England.
Henry V’s mother was Mary de Bohun (5) who died before Henry IV usurped Richard II’s throne.
And then we arrive at the Wars of the Roses – Edward IV and Richard III’s mother was Cecily Neville (6 and 7), the daughter of the 1st Earl of Westmorland and her husband was Richard of York.
Henry Tudor who became Henry VII was the last scion of the House of Lancaster, certainly his claim to the throne couldn’t be described as very strong bloodline wise but he did win the Battle of Bosworth – his mother was Margaret Beaufort (8), descended from John of Gaunt and Kathryn Swynford. The Beaufort children from the union were retrospectively legitimised by Richard II and then excluded from the throne by Henry IV.
James I of England but VI of Scotland’s mother was, of course, Mary Queen of Scots (9).
If you’re being picky Anne of Denmark (ii) was queen of Scotland when she gave birth to Charles I – he was too sickly to initially travel to England with the rest of the family but like Matilda of Flanders she was crowned once her husband took the throne.
James II’s wife was Anne Hyde (10 and 11) she died in 1671 before James ascended the throne in 1685. Therefore their daughters Mary and Anne are on the list and since Mary reigned alongside her husband William of Orange he also features. William of Orange’s parents were William II of Orange and Mary Henrietta (12) a much loved daughter of Charles I.
When Queen Anne died in 1714 her nearest Protestant relation was her third cousin George of Hanover – he was a grandson of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen – so the daughter of James I and Anne of Denmark. George’s mother was Elizabeth’s daughter Sophia of the Palatinate better known as Sophia of Hanover (13). She was Queen Anne’s heir but predeceased the monarch by two months.
George II’s mother was Sophia Dorothea of Celle (14) – the marriage with George of Hanover had not been happy one. On being told that she was to marry George, Sophia threw his picture at the wall declaring she wouldn’t marry “pig snout” – sadly she wasn’t given any option in the matter. His family didn’t like her overly much and she didn’t like them or her new husband. It was apparently perfectly acceptable for George to take a mistress but Sophia’s relationship with Count Philip Cristoph von Konigsmarck resulted in his death and her incarceration for thirty years in Ahlden where she died.
George III was possibly married bigamously to Queen Charlotte in which case George IV shouldn’t have been king anyway, and nor should William IV but that’s an entirely different story and so far as the record is concerned their mother was the queen of England and George III’s only spouse…despite what other documents might suggest.
Queen Victoria’s father was George III’s son Edward, Duke of Kent. Her mother was Victoria of Safe-Coburg-Saalfield (15).
And finally King George VI was Duke of York when our current queen Elizabeth II was born – her mother was Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (iii) who became queen in 1936 when her brother-in-law abdicated. The coronation took place in 1937.
Friday again – time flies when you’re doing all those little jobs that you’ve been putting off for the last two decades.
William the Conqueror was of course the Duke of Normandy and is buried in St Stephen’s Abbey, Caen which he founded prior to the conquest and his wife Matilda of Flanders was buried in the sister abbey, the Abbey of the Holy Trinity or Abbey Aux Dames as it is also known in Caen. William the Conqueror’s funeral was a bit on the traumatic side according to Orderic Vitalis because the body was too big for the coffin and there was a bit of an explosion as a consequence.
William Rufus who had a nasty accident with an arrow in the New Forest on 2nd August 1100 was buried in Winchester Cathedral. His bones are believed to be somewhere in the mortuary chests that house the remans of Saxon and Medieval Kings which were desecrated in 1642 by Parliamentarians.
Henry I and his first wife Edith or Matilda of Scotland as she became after her marriage are the first royal burial in Westminster Abbey following the interment of Edward Confessor who was buried in the abbey he founded in 1066. His second wife Adeline eventually became a nun and was buried in Affligem Abbey in Brabant. Henry was buried in Reading Abbey.
King Stephen and his wife Matilda of Boulogne were buried in Faversham Abbey in Kent. The royal tombs were destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries.
Henry II is buried in Fontevrault Abbey in France along with his estranged queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard I better known as the Lion-heart – Richard’s wife Berengaria can be found in Le Mans Cathedral. Henry’s daughter-in-law Isabella of Angoulême is also buried in Fontevrault whereas King John is is buried in Worcester Cathedral. It probably would have been complicated to transport his body to France given that the Barons War was underway and the french were invading England at the time.
Henry III is another Westminster burial where as his wife, Eleanor of Provence, is buried in Amesbury Abbey in Wiltshire. The tomb was lost upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Edward I famously died at Burgh-by-Sands as he was about to cross the Solway on yet another attempt on Scotland. His body was transported back to Westminster Abbey to lay beside his beloved wife Eleanor of Castile.
Edward II, who allegedly died after an incident with a hot poker in Berkeley Castle is buried in Gloucester Cathedral – although there is a theory that he wasn’t killed in which case he is clearly not in the cathedral but so far as regular history is concerned that’s where he can be located. Edward’s estranged wife Isabella of France was buried in Greyfriars Church, Newgate and was yet another loss during the Reformation.
Philippa of Hainhault is also buried in Westminster along with her husband Edward III. Their grandson Richard II married Anne of Bohemia who died of the plague. She can be found in Westminster as can Richard who died in Pontefract Castle, possibly from starvation having been usurped by his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke. He was originally buried in King’s Langley Church in Hertfordshire but was relocated in 1413.
Henry of Bolingbroke who became Henry IV was married firstly to Mary de Bohun. She died before he became king so technically her burial place in Leicester is not the resting place of a royal. Henry’s second wife Joan of Navarre is buried in Canterbury Cathedral along with Henry.
Both Henry V and his wife Katherine of Valois are buried in Westminster Abbey. Their son Henry VI was murdered by Edward IV bringing the Wars of the Roses to a close on 21 May 1471. He was first buried in Cherstey Abbey in Surrey so that he couldn’t become a focus for disgruntled Lancastrians but he was then removed to St George’s Chapel in Windsor in 1485. Somewhat ironically the man who ordered his murder is also buried in St George’s Chapel along with his wife Elizabeth Woodville – thus disgruntled Yorkists didn’t have a focus either. Edward V was never crowned and disappeared in the Tower – depends which conspiracy theory you believe as to where his remains might be. There is an urn in Westminster Abbey that contains the bones of two children found in the Tower in 1674 during building work.
Richard III, famously the king under the carpark was initially buried in the Collegiate Church of St Mary Leicester and can now be found in Leicester Cathedral along with some beautiful modern stained glass windows. His wife Anne Neville who probably died from tuberculosis is in Westminster Abbey.
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York are in Westminster as are their grandchildren Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. Henry VIII is in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. His wives are buried as follows: Katherine of Aragon is buried in Peterborough Abbey. her original tomb was destroyed during the English Civil War. Anne Boleyn was executed and buried in the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. Jane Seymour is next to her chunky spouse in Windsor. Anne of Cleves is in Westminster Abbey. Katherine Howard is in the Tower (and of course that’s where Lady Jane Grey the nine days queen of England can also be found) and Katherine Parr is buried in Sudely Castle Chapel.
On to the Stuarts. James is buried in Westminster with his wife Anne of Denmark. Charles I was buried in St George’s Chapel Windsor following his execution. His queen Henrietta Maria is in the Cathedral St Denis, Paris. Charles II is in Westminster but his wife Katherine of Braganza returned to Portugal following Charles’ death and is buried in Lisbon. James II was forced to flee in 1688 when William of Orange and James’ daughter Mary were politely asked to invade to save England from Catholicism. James’ first wife Anne Hyde is in Westminster but she died before James became king. James was buried in the Chapel of St Edmund in Paris. The idea was that he might one day be relocated to Westminster. Unfortunately his remains were still in France at the time of the revolution and somas people believe it disappeared.
William of Orange and his wife Mary are in Westminster as is Queen Anne and her husband George of Denmark. All of Anne’s children are also buried in Westminster Abbey in the same vault as Mary Tudor.
Anne was the last of the Stuart line and so the protestant Hanoverians arrived. George I is buried near Osnabruck but George II is in Westminster whereas George III, George IV and William IV are in St George’s Chapel Windsor. Queen Victoria initially buried her husband Albert in St George’s Chapel but he was removed to the Royal Mausoleum, Frogmore, Windsor where he is interred with Queen Victoria who died at Osbourne House on the Isle of White in 1901.
Edward VII is buried along with his queen, Alexandra in St George’s Chapel, Windsor as are George V and Mary of Teck. George VI and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother are also buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Edward VIII abdicated before he cold be crowned. He is buried in Frogmore.
At the time of the coronation in 1953 there were a number of decorations set up in London composed of royal devices in their various forms. Amongst them, in Westminster Abbey, stood ten six foot tall royal heraldic beasts. Their inspiration was taken from the heraldic beasts at Hampton Court Palace originally placed there by Henry VIII, gaining them the name “the King’s Beasts.”
These beasts, and others like them may be found on coats of arms, heraldic badges used on the liveries and standards of various families and the two heraldic supports of a shield of arms.
The royal arms and their beasts have changed across the centuries – the Tudors added a royal beast, as did the Stuarts for example.
Royal arms can be seen in churches across the country. It became usual for churches to do this following the Reformation – and was a very visual way of the population being reminded exactly who was in charge. Royal arms can also be found in various stately stacks around the country as assorted nobility and gentry used their building projects to demonstrate their loyalty to their monarch.
Last week I set the first History Jar Challenge which was to name as many English royal consorts as you could since 1066. There are, I think, 38 of them. Not all royal spouses became kings or queens alongside the monarch in question. How did you do? There will be another challenge on Saturday!
William the Conqueror = (1) Matilda of Flanders. Following the conquest she was crowned as William’s consort in 1068.
William Rufus = unmarried.
Henry I =
(2) Edith of Scotland who became Matilda of Scotland upon her marriage to Henry. Henry I’s mother Matilda of Flanders was Edith’s godmother and it is said that at her christening she pulled at Matilda’s head dress signifying that one day she would rise to her godmother’s rank. She died on 1st May 1118 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.
(3) Adeliza (there are alternative spellings and pronunciations) of Louvain.
Stephen = (4) Matilda of Boulogne who was the niece of Edith/Matilda of Scotland.
The Empress Matilda was never crowned queen of England. And you will be delighted to hear that there aren’t any more Matildas!
Henry II = (5) Eleanor of Aquitaine
Richard the Lionheart = (6) Berengaria of Navarre
Isabella of Gloucester but she was never queen of England due to an annulment on the grounds of consanguinity.
(7) Isabella of Angoulême. She was crowned in Westminster in 1200 when she was 12.
Henry III = (8) Eleanor of Province
Edward I =
(9) Eleanor of Castile (after who the Eleanor crosses are named.)
(10) Margaret of France
Edward II = (11) Isabella of France – one of English history’s she-wolves.
Edward III = (12) Philippa of Hainhault. They married in 1328 in York Minster during a snow storm – which was unfortunate as the minster was without a roof at the time.
Richard II =
(13) Anne of Bohemia. She died of plague in 1394 at Sheen Palace. Richard was so devastated that he ordered that the palace be demolished.
(14) Isabella of France who was a child at the time of her marriage. Following Richard II’s usurpation by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke she returned to France.
Henry IV =
Mary de Bohun who died before Henry became king.
(15) Joan of Navarre became queen upon her marriage to Henry in 1402 but she wasn’t crowned until the following year.
Henry V = (16) Katherine of Valois who would marry Owain Tudor following Henry’s death.
Henry VI = (17) Margaret of Anjou (another she-wolf)
Edward IV = (18) Elizabeth Woodville (and this is not the time to discuss whether or not Edward was a bigamist)
Richard III = (19) Anne Neville
Henry VII = (20) Elizabeth of York
Henry VIII = famously married six times. He believed that he had only ever been legitimately married to Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr – one because she produced a son and the other because he died before she could be toppled from the rather tenuous position as Henry’s spouse.
(21) Catherine of Aragon
(22) Anne Boleyn
(23) Jane Seymour
Anne of Cleves – not crowned because Henry took against her.
(24) Katherine Howard
(25) Katherine Parr
Edward VI = unmarried
Lady Jane Grey was never crowned although she was proclaimed queen.
Mary I = (26) Philip II of Spain. The Spanish Match as it was known was deeply unpopular. Although Philip became king he had very little power.
Elizabeth I = unmarried
James I = (27) Anne of Denmark
Charles I = (28) Henrietta Maria
Charles II = (29) Katherine of Braganza
James II =
Anne Hyde who died before James became king.
(30) Mary of Modena
William III and Mary II who were married to one another.
Anne = George of Denmark – was raised to the English peerage prior to Anne becoming queen but was never crowned as prince consort.
George I = Sophia Dorothea who never became queen of England because George divorced her for adultery before he became king of England. She spent the remainder of her life locked up in Ahlden Castle in Germany.
George II = (31) Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach
George III = (32) Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. There is a possibility that he married bigamously.
George IV =
Maria Fitzherbert – who was Catholic and therefore the marriage was against the 1701 Act of Settlement and the Royal Marriages Act of 1772. This marriage was deemed to be invalid.
Caroline of Brunswick. It wasn’t a happy marriage. She was forcibly barred from attending George’s coronation so was never crowned.
William IV = (33) Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
Victoria = (34) Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Edward VII =(35) Alexandra of Denmark
George V = (36) Mary of Teck
Edward VIII was proclaimed king but never crowned, preferring to abdicate in order to marry Mrs Wallis Simpson.
Edith of Scotland, or Matilda as became upon her marriage to Henry I on Sunday 11th November 1100 was an example of how a medieval queen was supposed to behave. One bishop described her as a mother to her people. Weir makes the point that traditionally she has been seen as a pious queen without much of a political role but as with much of history, over time this view has been reappraised.
She advised the king, attended his meetings and worked for the reform of the Church as well as working with Anselm and maintaining a balance between her husband and his principal cleric. There are thirty-three charters in her own name. Her seal, pictured above is the earliest seal in England for a queen. It is in the hands of the British Library.
It was Matilda in 1103 who persuaded Henry to repeal the curfew laws introduced by his father. The idea had been to stop Saxon plotting. At eight o’clock every night the curfew bell tolled and people were required to damp down their fires – it also prevented fires in towns made largely from wood.
In addition to being pious, caring for the poor and interceding on behalf of the wider population it was also essential for a medieval queen to have children. On 31 July 1101 she gave birth to a daughter called Euphemia who did not live for long. By the summer of the same year she was pregnant again. We know this because Henry summoned the Abbot of Abingdon, a renowned physician, to care for his wife. On 7th February 1102 Matilda gave birth to another girl who was baptised as Aethelice (Adelaide) but she is known to history as the Empress Matilda. The year after that William was born.
There was another son called Richard. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle says that he died young whereas other sources state that a second son of Matilda’s called Richard drowned with the sinking of the White Ship. The fact that Henry also had an illegitimate son called Richard doesn’t much help matters.
After the birth of a male heir (and possibly a spare) Matilda had no more children. William of Malmesbury says that the king and queen stopped sharing a bed by common consent. Perhaps Matilda wasn’t terribly impressed with Henry’s love of the ladies. Princess Nest gave birth to one of Henry’s children in 1103. Weir speculates that Henry may have been put off from the wife he was described as ardently desiring because of the fact she spent so much time caring for the ill and the poor. An early example of social distancing perhaps? Weir goes on to suggest several other possible reasons – all in the realms of speculation but it is evident that the couple fell out over Church matters when Anselm was forbidden to return to England in 1104.
Despite this, Henry appointed Matilda as his regent when he went to Normandy that summer. Weir observes that William the Conqueror left his wife as regent and Henry now did the same – demonstrating that both men respected their wives abilities to maintain order in their absence. Henry gave Matilda the “power to judge crime.”
In 1110 Matilda’s daughter henceforth known as the Empress Matilda left England to marry Henry V- the Holy Roman Emperor.
Matilda died on the 1st May 1118 at Westminster Palace and buried in the abbey where she had spent much time in private prayer during her lifetime. She is also associated with Waltham Abbey and Malmesbury as both of them were part of her dower. Henry did not attend the funeral as he wasn’t in England at the time of her death.
Following Henry I’s death Good Queen Maud’s reputation took a bit of a battering when her nephew by marriage, Stephen of Blois, insisted that she had been a nun when Henry married her which meant that Matilda’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, was not the legitimate heir whatever her father said.
Weir, Alison (2017) Queens of the Conquest. London: Jonathan Cape
Edith or Matilda of Scotland was the wife of Henry I. The couple had four children but only two survived to adulthood – Matilda and William. It was the death of William that ultimately plunged England into a lengthy and rather bloody civil war.
Edith was born circa 1080 in Dunfermline to Malcolm III and Margaret , grand-daughter of King Edmund Ironside and great niece of Edward the Confessor . Somewhat confusingly since Margaret fled England along with her family at the time of the Norman Conquest it turns out that Edith’s godfather was Robert Curthose, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. William’s queen, Matilda of Flanders was also present at Edith’s baptism as godmother. It’s recorded that little Edith pulled at the royal headdress – this was later seen as a sign that Edith would herself be queen one day. Tyler identifies the fact that Edith’s name identifies her Saxon royal heritage whilst the choice of godparents reflects the political capital of the infant.
When she was about six Edith was sent to England to be educated by the nuns of Romsey Abbey in Wiltshire. The Royal House of Wessex had a tradition of association with the abbey and Edith’s aunt Christina was the abbess there. She had left Scotland in 1086 to become a nun. Edith’s older sister Mary went with her. As well as spending time in Romsey the girls also spent time at Wilton Abbey – again there was a royal connection to the House of Wessex – Edward the Confessor’s wife Edith Godwinson was associated with the nunnery and had retired there after the Conquest. Wilton was regarded as a centre for female learning as well as a centre of spirituality. The nunnery had a nail from the True Cross, bits of the Venerable Bede and St Edith.
The choice of these nunneries perhaps reflects the political heritage of Edith of Dunfermline. The Normans weren’t necessarily secure on the throne and by maintaining their royal behaviours Malcolm III and his wife were leaving a path open to reclaiming the crown as well as arranging good marriages for their daughters.
Unsurprisingly Edith had lots of prospective suitors including the 2ndearl of Surrey (de Warenne) and Alan Rufus the Lord of Richmond. It is also suggested that William Rufus might have been a candidate for Edith’s hand – it is perhaps one reason why Edith was required to wear a religious habit during her childhood.
Edith’s settled life came to an end on November 13 1093 when her father and one of her brothers was killed at the Battle of Alnwick. Her mother died on the 16thNovember at Dunfermline where she is buried. Aside from a controversy about whether she was a nun or not History does not know where Edith was between 1093 and 1100.
At some point in 1093 Edith left Wilton and was ordered back there by Anselm the Bishop of Canterbury. He believed that she had taken holy orders – that she was in fact a nun. In 1100 Edith was called upon to testify before a council of bishops that although she had been educated at Romsey and Wilton that she had not taken any vows. She stated that Christina had required her to wear a habit to protect her from unwanted attention from Norman lords. Edith does not appear to have had a good relationship with Christina – she stated that her aunt would often give her a sound slapping and “horrible scolding.” She further added that when she was out of her aunt’s sight she tore off the monastic veil that her aunt made her wear and trampled it in the dust.
In addition to Edith’s testimony there was also the fact that Archbishop Lanfranc had ruled that Saxon women who went into hiding in nunneries in the aftermath of the Conquest could not be deemed as having taken monastic vows when they emerged from their hiding places. Although Edith clearly hadn’t gone into hiding due to ravaging Normans, Christina’s dressing of the girl in a monastic habit was seen as having stemmed from the same root. William of Malmsebury notes that Christina grew old and died at Romsey so perhaps the move to Wilton was partially to get away from an unloved relation – but that is entirely speculation.
On one hand its evident that Edith/Matilda’s bloodline was ample reason for Henry I to marry her but William of Malmsebury states that Henry loved his new bride. Henry I and Edith married on November 11thin Westminster Abbey. Anselm performed the marriage but before doing so told the entire congregation about Edith potentially being a nun and asked for any objections. The congregation- possibly knowing what was good for it- cried out in Edith’s favour. Afterwards she took the name Matilda – not that it stopped Henry I’s lords mocking him by calling him Godrick and his queen Godiva because of the return to Saxon customs that Henry instituted.
And for anyone doubting whether Edith/Matilda was legally able to marry, the fact that a healthy baby daughter, the future Empress Matilda, was born in February 1102 followed by a boy called William in September 1103 put an end to those niggling concerns that Henry might have married a nun – would God have blessed a marriage if it was invalid?
Honeycutt, Lois L. (2005) Matilda of Scotland: A Study in Medieval Queenship
“Edith Becomes Matilda.” England in Europe: English Royal Women and Literary Patronage, C.1000–C.1150, by ELIZABETH M. TYLER, University of Toronto Press, Toronto; Buffalo; London, 2017, pp. 302–353. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt1whm96v.14. Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.
Æthelred the Unready from a thirteenth century copy of the Abingdon Chronicle.
Alfred was succeeded by his son, Edward the Elder who ruled until 924. Edward had campaigned against the Danes during his father’s life time just as Alfred had been his brother’s lieutenant before he in his turn became king.
Edward didn’t automatically become king. Applicants for the Crown were required to present themselves to the Witan. Although Edward was the son of Alfred his cousins who had been bypassed when Alfred became king because of their youth were now men. Eadweard and Ethelwald both wanted to become the next king of Wessex.
Ethelwald fermented rebellion and seized Crown lands but was swiftly kicked into touch. He reacted by taking himself off to Norse ruled Northumbria before returning at the head of an army in 905 when he was killed. Unfortunately for Edward the Elder the battle was actually won by the Danes so he had to negotiate a settlement. Borders and boundaries became rather fluid after that.
Edward was able to work with his sister Æthelflæd, The Lady of the Mercians to secure territory from the Danes. Howel the Good of Wales eventually accepted Edward’s overlordship as did the Kings of the Scots and Strathclyde when they met Edward at Bakewell in 920. Edward died in 924 following a Mercian uprising.
Edward certainly extended the Cerdic line. He had somewhere in the region of eighteen children including his son Æthelstan who succeeded his father and ruled until his own death in 939. Unlike his father who the Mercians regarded as a king of Wessex, Æthelstan who had been reared in Mercia was accepted there before he was made king of Wessex. In 927 he was victorious over the Vikings in York making him effectively the ruler of England (remember Scotland was somewhat larger at that time extending down through Cumbria into Lancashire.) In 934 he invaded Scotland.
Æthelstan wished to extend law and order. He built on the legal reforms of his grandfather Alfred which is understandable as he had a rather larger kingdom than his predecessors. When he died rather than being buried in Winchester he was interred in Malmesbury Abbey and succeeded by his brother Edmund.
It was not a peaceful time and Edmund was eventually murdered. He was succeeded by his brother Ædred who was king from 946 to 955. In 954 Ædred effected the removal of Eric Bloodaxe from the Kingdom of Northumbria. When he died the following he was succeeded by his nephew, Æthelstan’s son, Ædwig. He was only fifteen. Four years later he was dead. Poor Ædwig had a bit of a reputation allegedly having been caught by St Dunstan consorting with two ladies of ill repute on the night of his coronation. More likely the tale arose out of the feud between the secular and clerical world for the control of the king’s ear.
After Ædwig’s death his brother Edgar became king. Edgar is known as Edgar the Peaceful. He ruled from 959 (he was sixteen at the time) until 975. He relied upon St Dunstan for advice. He honed the laws and set about standardising currency. He wasn’t without scandal though. He allegedly killed a rival in love and when he was crowned in Bath had his wife crowned alongside him – a first for the kings of Wessex. The coronation took place in 973 – rather than at the start of his reign. We will be returning to Edgar’s problematic love life in due course.
Edgar was succeeded by his son Edward in 975. Edward was murdered in 978 where upon he became known to history as Edward the Martyr and modern historians are increasingly keen to point the finger of blame at his step-mother Ælfthryth who was Edgar’s second or third wife. Edward had been virtually of age when he became king and had the support of the Church. The death of Edward at Corfe left the way clear for Ælfthryth’s son Æthelred to become king even though he was still a child.
Æthelred was king from 978 until 1013. Initially his mother was his regent. Æthelred the Unready or ill-advised had Viking problems. He’s the chap who paid vast sums of Dane-geld to the marauding Norse not understanding the free lance relationship they had with their leaders or the fact that handing over great wages of coin was actually somewhat counter productive.
In 1013 King Sweyn Forkbeard invaded England and Æthelred fled to Normandy. Sweyn died the following year. Æthelred returned and ruled until he died in 1016.
He was succeeded by his son Edmund Ironside. It was a short reign from April to November 1016. The summer of 1016 was a summer of battles.