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Source: Emma of Normandy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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Title Emma of Normandy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Emma de Normandie


Wikipedia contributors. Emma of Normandy. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Emma_of_Normandy&oldid=1067052353.




Emma of Normandy (referred to as Ælfgifu in royal documents; c. 984 – 6 March 1052) was Queen of England, Denmark and Norway through her marriages to Æthelred the Unready (1002–1016) and Cnut the Great (1017–1035). She was the daughter of the Norman rulerRichard the Fearless and Gunnor.

After her husbands' deaths Emma remained in the public eye and continued to participate actively in politics during the reigns of her sons by each husband, Edward the Confessor and Harthacnut. In 1035, when her second husband Cnut died and was succeeded by their son Harthacnut, who was in Denmark at the time, Emma was designated to act as his regent until his return, which she did in rivalry with Harold Harefoot.

She is the central figure within the Encomium Emmae Reginae, a critical source for the history of early-11th-century English politics. As Catherine Karkov notes, Emma is one of the most visually represented early medieval queens.

Marriage to Æthelred II
In an attempt to pacify Normandy, King Æthelred of England married Emma in the Spring of 1002, at Canterbury Cathedral. Similarly Richard II, Duke of Normandy hoped to improve relations with the English in wake of recent conflict and a failed kidnapping attempt against him by Æthelred. Viking raids on England were often based in Normandy in the late 10th century, and for Æthelred this marriage was intended to unite against the Viking threat. Upon their marriage, Emma was consecrated Queen of England, and took the Anglo-Saxon name Ælfgifu as her regnal name. Ælfgifu was used for formal and official matters, while Emma and Imme were used privately. She received properties of her own in Winchester, Rutland, Devonshire, Suffolk and Oxfordshire, as well as thecity of Exeter.

Æthelred and Emma had two sons, Edward the Confessor and Alfred Ætheling, and a daughter, Goda of England (Godgifu).

When King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded and conquered England in 1013, Emma and her children were sent to Normandy, where Æthelred joined soon after. They returned to England after Sweyn's death in 1014.

Emma and Æthelred's marriage ended with Æthelred's death in London in 1016. Æthelred's oldest son from his first marriage, Æthelstan, had been heir apparent until his death in June 1014. Emma's sons had been ranked after all of the sons from Æthelred's first wife, the eldest surviving of whom was Edmund Ironside. Emma made an attempt to get her older son, Edward, recognised as heir. Although this movement was supported by Æthelred's chief advisor, Eadric Streona, it was opposed by Edmund Ironside, Æthelred's third-oldest son, and his allies, who eventually revolted against his father.

In 1015, Cnut, the son of Sweyn Forkbeard, invaded England. He was held out of London until the deaths of Æthelred and Edmund in April and November 1016, respectively. Queen Emma attempted to maintain Anglo-Saxon control of London until her marriage to Cnut was arranged. Some scholars believe that the marriage saved her sons' lives, as Cnut tried to rid himself of rival claimants, but spared their lives.

Marriage to Cnut:
Cnut gained control of most of England after he defeated Edmund Ironside on 18 October 1016, at the Battle of Assandun, after which they agreed to divide the kingdom, Edmund taking Wessex and Cnut the rest of the country. Edmund died shortly afterwards on30 November, and Cnut became the king of all England. At the time of their marriage in 1017, Emma's sons from her marriage to Æthelred were sent to live in Normandy under the tutelage of her brother. At this time Emma became Queen of England, and later of Denmark and Norway.

The Encomium Emmae Reginae suggests in its second book that Emma and Cnut's marriage, though begun as a political strategy, became an affectionate marriage. During their marriage, Emma and Cnut had a son, Harthacnut, and a daughter, Gunhilda.

During her two marriages Emma had 5 children:
Edward the Confessor c. 1003 – 5 January 1066, died without issue
Goda of England c.1004 – c.1049
Alfred the Noble c. 1005–1036
Conspiracy regarding the death of Alfred
In 1036, Alfred Aetheling and Edward the Confessor, Emma's sons by Æthelred, returned to England from their exile in Normandy in order to visit their mother. During their time in England they were supposed to be protected by Harthacnut. However, Harthacnut was involved with his kingdom in Denmark. Alfred was captured and blinded by holding a hot iron to his eyes. He later died from his wounds.

Edward escaped the attack and returned to Normandy. He did not return to England until 1041, when he was invited back by Harthacnut.

Encomium Emmae Reginae places the blame of Alfred's capture, torture and murder completely on Harold Harefoot, thinking he intended to rid himself of two more potential claimants to the English throne by killing Edward and Alfred. Some scholars make the argument that it could have been Godwin, Earl of Wessex, who was traveling with Alfred and Edward as their protector in passage.

Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor's coordinated reign
Harthacnut, Emma and Cnut's son, succeeded to the thrones of England and Denmark after the death of his father in 1035. The invasion of King Magnus I of Norway required that Harthacnut remain in Denmark and in his absence, Emma served as his regent in Wessex. Harthacnut's older half-brother, Harold Harefoot, served as regent in the rest of England but desired the throne for himself. In 1037 he had enough English support to assume the throne of all of England, and expelled Emma who had been living in Winchester, with Harthacnut's huscarls. Once again Emma was forced to flee England into exile. This time she went to Bruges, Flanders, where Baldwin V, Count of Flanders sheltered her and provided her with protection. It was while exiled in Bruges that Emma sponsored the Encomium Emmae Reginae, which eulogized her and attacked Harold. She also summoned her son Edward from Normandy and demanded his help against Harold. Edward did not have the resources to launch an invasion and refused her.

Harthacnut planned an invasion of England, but this became unnecessary when King Harold died in March 1040, and Harthacnut was invited back to England to resume the throne.

Emma returned to England "seven days before Midsummer" on 17 June 1040, alongside her son King Harthacnut. Determined that the death of her son Alfred be avenged, Emma charged Earl Godwin with murder. Godwin was put on trial, but it was determined that hehad acted on the orders of Harold Harefoot. While Godwin escaped punishment, he paid such rich tribute to King Harthacnut that it amounted to the wergild he would have had to pay had he been found guilty.

In 1041 Harthacnut invited his older half-brother Edward the Confessor to return to England. It is believed that this was because Harthacnut knew his illness was terminal and wanted to ensure Edward would rule England after his death. The two brothers shared the throne of England for a little less than 2 years.

Emma played a role in this coordinated reign by being a common tie between the two kings. The Encomium of Queen Emma suggests that she herself may have had a significant role, even being an equal role in this co-leadership of the English kingdom.

The joint reign was short, ending with Harthacnut's death on 8 June 1042.

After Harthacnut's death Edward the Confessor became king. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us that before Harthacnut was buried "all the people chose Edward as king in London." Edward was crowned at the cathedral of Winchester, the royal seat of the West Saxons, on 3 April 1043.

After returning to England, Emma had returned to her residence in Winchester, which had been given to her by her first husband Æthelred. The same year as his coronation, Edward rode to Winchester and deprived his mother of "her lands and loose property". She was however allowed to live in the town. Some sources claim this was out of resentment because his mother had not supported him as much as he thought she should have. This is not likely to be true, for Stigand, then Bishop of Elmham and Emma's advisorwas also deposed and deprived of his wealth. It has been speculated that Emma's political influence undermined Edward's own authority, that her wealth was too great and she had held on to the royal treasuries after Harthacnut's death. Some sources claim that she and Stigand were plotting to replace Edward with King Magnus I of Norway, a rival claimant to the English throne. While Magnus was planning an invasion of England at the time of his death, had he succeeded in claiming England, any influence Emma did have would have ended, therefore, this theory appears to be untrue. Also, while Emma's influence in England was reduced after this, Stigand's grew until he eventually became a trusted advisor of King Edward, not a reasonable occurrence if he had plotted to remove Edward from the throne.

As Emma had been Queen or regent in England off and on for 40 years and had considerable influence as well as political 'baggage', it is likely that Edward simply wanted to distance himself from the of unpopular reign of Harthacnut and build his own influence.

Whatever motivated Edward, it appears Emma's status after that was diminished. She signed four or five documents in 1044 and another in 1045, but no more after that. By this time Emma was about 60 years old and seems to have been content to retire from public life.

Death and burial
Emma's death was the first event recorded for the year 1052 by The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle A.D.:
A.D. 1052. This year, on the second day before the nones of March, died the aged Lady Elfgiva Emma, the mother of King Edward and of King Hardacnute, the relict of King Ethelred and of King Knute; and her body lies in the old minster with King Knute...

This provides some idea of the respect and high esteem Emma still held at the time of her death and long thereafter...