Emma of Normandy
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|Emma of Normandy|
|Queen Emma of Normandy with her two young sons.|
|Tenure||1002 – summer 1013
3 February 1014 – 23 April 1016
July 1017 – 12 November 1035
|Tenure||1018 – 12 November 1035|
|Tenure||1028 – 12 November 1035|
|Spouse||Æthelred the Unready
Cnut the Great
|Edward the Confessor
Goda, Countess of Boulogne
Gunhilda, Holy Roman Empress
|House||House of Normandy by birth
House of Wessex by her first marriage
House of Denmark by her second marriage
|Father||Richard the Fearless|
|Died||6 March 1052 (aged 66–67)
Emma (c. 985 – 6 March 1052), had a tumultuous life. She was the daughter of Richard the Fearless, Duke of Normandy, and his second wife Gunnora. Through her first marriage to King Æthelred the Unready from 1002 to 1016 she was the Queen consort of England, and as the wife of King Cnut the Great between 1017 and 1035 she became the Queen consort of England, Denmark, and Norway. She had three children by Æthelred, Edward the Confessor, Goda of England, and Alfred, and two by Cnut, Harthacnut and Gunhilda of Denmark. After her husbands' deaths Emma remained an active participant in politics.
Emma was the daughter of Richard I, count of Rouen and of his second wife, Gunnor, a woman of Norman and Danish stock. Her mother had started out as her father's mistress. After they married, their children were legitimized. Both her parents were of Danish descent.
Reign of Æthelred
In the late tenth century, Normandy often served as a base for Viking raids on England, thus straining relations between King Aethelred and Count Richard. In 1002 Aethelred arranged to marry, as his second wife, Emma, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy. Ian Howard sees the marriage as an alliance to meet a Viking threat to both England and Normandy.
She was given an English name, Ælfgifu, which was used instead of her Norman name on formal occasions or on charters. She had two sons, Edward (the future Edward the Confessor) and Alfred, and a daughter, Goda. She was accorded a more prominent place in charters than his first wife. She received properties that had belonged to Queen Ælfthryth in Winchester and Rutland, and also controlled the city of Exeter, parts of Devonshire, Suffolk and Oxfordshire.
In 1013 Æthelred sent Emma and her children to her brother in Normandy to escape Sweyn's invasion, and soon followed himself, but they were able to return when Sweyn died in February 1014. Æthelred's eldest son, Æthelstan had long been recognised as heir apparent, but Æthelstan died in June 1014. Charter evidence shows that Emma's son Edward ranked behind all Æthelred's sons by his first marriage to Ælfgifu of York. However, Emma now tried to get the ten year old Edward, recognised as heir. She was an ally of her husband's chief adviser, the widely distrusted Eadric Streona, ealdorman of Mercia, and he took her side. She was opposed by Æthelred's oldest surviving son, Edmund Ironside, and his allies, who naturally regarded him as the heir.
Edmund revolted against his father, and in 1015 Sweyn's son Cnut invaded. Æthelred was able to hold out against Cnut in London, but in April 1016 Æthelred died, as did Edmund in November. 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. The marriage probably saved her sons, as Cnut tried to rid himself of rival claimants, but spared their lives.
Reign of Cnut
During the first years of Cnut's reign, Emma was rarely called upon to act as witness to his acts. This changed around 1020, when she became more active in affairs. Like Queen Ælfthryth, she acted as patroness of the clergy and abbot Ælfsige of Peterborough was one of her closest advisors. She also befriended clergy from the continent, which added to the prestige of both herself and her husband as a Christian king.
It is thought, due in part to her depiction in the Encomium Emmae Reginae, that apart from political considerations, Cnut grew fond of Emma. In this, an affectionate marriage coincided with a strategy to keep peace with her brother in Normandy. Cnut and Emma had a son, Harthacnut.
Reigns of Harold I, Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor
After Cnut's death, Edward and Alfred returned to England from their exile in 1036, to see their mother, and were put under their half-brother, Harthacnut's, protection. This was seen as a move against Harold Harefoot, Cnut's son by Ælfgifu of Northampton, who put himself forward as Harold I with the support of many of the English nobility. However Harthacnut spent much time abroad defending his holdings in Denmark. Alfred was captured, blinded, and shortly after, died from his wounds. Edward escaped to Normandy and Emma herself soon left for Bruges and the court of the Count of Flanders. It was at this court that the Encomium Emmae was later written.
Harthacnut prepared an invasion force after he had made his Danish Lands secure in 1040 and picked Emma up from Flanders before setting out to England. The death of Harold I in 1040 made his accession easier. Emma then held Wessex as regent for her son Edward, until he was officially made welcome in England the next year. Harthacnut told the Norman court that Edward should be made king if he himself had no sons. Harthacnut died in early June 1042; the likely cause of death was either stroke or cardiac arrest. Emma was also to return to England, yet was cast aside, as she supported Magnus the Noble, not Edward, her son.
Emma's issue with Æthelred the Unready were:
Her issue with Cnut the Great were
+Said to have been a great-granddaughter of Cnut's grandfather Harald Bluetooth, but this was probably a fiction intended to give her a royal bloodline.
Emma was played by Elizabeth Hubbard in the 1970 television movie The Ceremony of Innocence. She is also the protagonist of Helen Hollick's 2004 novel, A Hollow Crown (US title, The Forever Queen) and (as 'Ymma') a central character in the 1999 play Silence by Moira Buffini. More recently Emma appears as the heroine of Patricia Bracewell's 2013 historical novel Shadow On The Crown which focuses on the early years of her marriage to Æthelred the Unready.
- Kenyes, Simon (2004), "Emma", Oxford Online DNB.
- O'Brien, p.14.
- Simon Keynes, Æthelred II, Oxford Online DNB, 2009
- Howard, Ian. Harthacnut: The last Danish King of England, The History Press, 2008, p. 10.
- Honeycutt, p. 41
- Barlow, Edward the Confessor, pp. 30-31
- Howard, pp. 12–5.
- Duggan, p. 44
- O'Brien, pp. 202-203.
- Brewer, Clifford. The Death of Kings: A Medical History of the Kings and Queens of England (2000)
See also Encomium Emmae (for the Encomium Emmae Reginae or Gesta Cnutonis Regis in honour of Queen Emma)
- Barlow, Frank, (1984) Edward the Confessor, Berkeley: University of California Press
- Duggan, Anne, (1997) Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe, Woodbridge: The Boydell Press
- Honeycutt, Lois, (2003) Matilda of Scotland: a Study in Medieval Queenship Woodbridge: The Boydell Press
- Monk of St Omer (1949) Encomium Emmae Reginae; ed. Alistair Campbell. (Camden 3rd series; no. 72.) London: Royal Historical Society (Reissued by Cambridge U. P. 1998 with suppl. introd. by Simon Keynes ISBN 0-521-62655-2)
- O'Brien, Harriet (2005). Queen Emma and the Vikings. Bloomsbury Publishing, New York and London.
- Stafford, Pauline (2001) Queen Emma and Queen Edith: queenship and women's power in eleventh-century England. Oxford: Blackwell.
- Strachan, Isabella (2005) Emma: the twice-crowned Queen of England in the Viking Age. London: Peter Owen
- Bracewell, Patricia (2013) Shadow On The Crown. New York: Viking ISBN 978-0-670-02639-5
- Gordon, Noah (1986) The Physician. Basingstoke: Macmillan ISBN 0-671-47748-X (Novel set in the early 11th century.)
- Hollick, Helen (2004) The Hollow Crown. (August 2004) William Heinemann, Random House. ISBN 0-434-00491-X; Arrow paperback ISBN 0-09-927234-2. This is a historical novel about Queen Emma of Normandy, intended to explain why she was so indifferent to the children of her first marriage.
Emma of NormandyBorn: circa 985 Died: 6 March 1052
Ælfgifu of York
|Queen consort of England
Ealdgyth (floruit 1015–1016)
|Queen consort of England
Edith of Wessex
|Queen consort of Denmark
Gyda of Sweden
|Queen consort of Norway
Elisiv of Kiev