It’s sometimes helpful to see something in a diagrammatic form to make sense of what’s happening. Beginning with the Royal House of Wessex -King Æthelred was married twice. His second wife was Emma of Normandy who was the mother of Edward the Confessor . Æthelred had a brood of sons by his first wife but the one we need to look at is Edmund Ironside who briefly co-ruled England with King Cnut before being murdered in 1016 whilst in the toilet if the chroniclers are to be believed – and for those of you who like the gory details the assassin was given his orders by Edmund’s own brother-in-law Eadric Streona who was possibly one of the least pleasant political figures in English history, which is saying something as there’re plenty of contenders.
Cnut now claimed the whole of England and married the widowed Queen Emma. He may have hoped that Edmund Ironside’s sons Edward and Edmund would be quietly bumped off when he sent them overseas. Edward the Exile as he became known had three children, only two feature on my table. He was invited back to England by his uncle, Edward the Confessor who succeeded King Cnut’s sons Harold Harefoot (the son of Cnut’s hand fasted wife but now’s not the time to go into that) and Harthacnut (the son of Emma.) Edward the Exile died a very short time after landing on English shores and the suspicion is that he was also bumped off – but in a rather more subtle way than his father.
Whilst he was in exile he married Agatha of Hungary. The couple had three children (yes I know there’re only two on the diagram.) The child I’m interested in today is St Margaret. She married Malcolm Canmore after she fled to Scotland following the Conquest. Her daughter Edith married King Henry I, changed her name to Matilda and was the mother of the Empress Matilda. Every monarch since King Henry II has been descended from the Royal House of Wessex.
The descent of Scottish kings is more complex but it is, I think, also true to say that every king since King David I has been descended from the Royal House of Wessex. King David fathered a line that led to the eight-year old Maid of Norway who died after making the sea crossing from Norway to the Orkneys in 1090. There was no direct claimant to the Scottish Crown- but there were very many contenders. The First Interregnum began whilst King Edward I of England looked at the thirteen competitors who had a claim to the Crown. The man Edward chose, John Balliol was descended from King David on his mother’s side of the family tree. The House of Bruce was also descended from King David. Unsurprisingly the Stewarts are also descended from King David. One of Robert II’s ancestors was the base born daughter of William the Lion and another married the daughter of the Earl of Huntingdon – a title which King Henry I of England gave to King David and which he passed on to his son to avoid the complications of vassalage and overlordship