The Siege of Paris of 885-886

The Freelance History Writer

Marauding_expedition_of_northmen

For those who have been watching the “Vikings” television series, Season 3 has been dominated by the Siege of Paris. But what really happened at the siege? Fortunately, we have the poems of the monk Abbo of Saint-Germain-des Prés to give us a record of the events. But it must be kept in mind the monk was writing to glorify the French. We also don’t know if the combatants really used mangonels and trebuchets this early in the Middle Ages. But it makes for a good story!

During the ninth century, while Charlemagne was in control of Western Europe, the Norse or Vikings as they came to be called, made little headway. They attacked and plundered the British Isles and settled in Iceland and even Greenland. But when Charlemagne died, local custom dictated that his three grandsons divide his kingdom into three separate entities. This created internal civil strife, leaving…

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Aelfthryth, Queen of England

The Freelance History Writer

In researching medieval queens, I came across the story of a queen having all the elements of a fairy tale. Her name is Aelfthryth, the wife of King Edgar the Peaceable who was the great-grandson of Alfred the Great. Her son by Edgar was Aethelred the Unready so she was also the mother- in- law of our Queen Emma.

Aelfthryth was born c. 945, the daughter of Ordgar who held numerous properties in southwest England. Her mother was a member of the royal family of Wessex and her brother Ordulf founded the abbey of Tavistock. Edgar was born c. 943 and became King in 959. He married a childhood friend, Aethelflaed when very young and had a son named Edward by this wife who appears to have died soon afterward. There is some confusion over whether he married his second wife or not. Her name was Wulfthryth and…

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The Sisters of Anglo-Saxon King Aethelstan

The Freelance History Writer

Map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1000 AD Map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1000 AD

King Edward the Elder, son and successor of Alfred the Great of England, had many children. There were three women in his life that may or may not have been his wives. With these women, he had five sons and eight or nine daughters. Before Edward died, he began a concerted effort to marry his daughters to leaders on the continent. This program would be continued under Edward’s son and successor Aethelstan when he became king.

The best information we have on Edward’s daughters is from the twelfth century chronicler William of Malmesbury. We have no order of birth or birth dates and in some cases no names or confusing names for these women. Malmesbury does say Edward’s daughters in their childhood gave their whole attention to literature.

The first woman in Edward’s life was named Ecgwynn. There is no record…

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Adeliza of Louvain, Queen of England

The Freelance History Writer

A noblewoman kneeling in front of Christ - most likely Adeliza of Louvain, from "The Shaftesbury Psalter" A noblewoman kneeling in front of Christ – most likely Adeliza of Louvain, from “The Shaftesbury Psalter”

Matilda of Scotland, the first wife of King Henry I of England died in May of 1118 and in November of 1120, Henry’s only son and heir William Adelin died in a tragic ship wreck. Henry was left with only his daughter Matilda as his heir and she was married to the German emperor Henry V. While it wasn’t impossible for a women to rule his kingdom, the White Ship disaster forced Henry to consider remarrying and working on getting a new heir.

Henry didn’t want his nephew, William Clito, son of his elder brother Robert Curthose, to inherit the throne and negotiations for a marriage to Adeliza of Louvain may have begun even before the loss of William Adelin. On January 6, 1121, after taking counsel, Henry announced to a large assembly…

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