Medieval Royalty



Medieval Royalty in the news

The power of purple 

Baltimore Sun - Jan 11 6:29 AM
Baltimore's favorite shade these days is the color of kings, passion, valor - and Super Bowl halftime acts It began with mollusk mucus -- not the most inviting thought -- a gooey, staining secretion from sea snails. Its dark-red color so delighted folks in ancient times that they used it as a coveted fabric dye. The Greeks coined it porphura. Medieval Europe combined it with rare blue dye to ...
New York Post - Jan 09 2:34 AM
"Dracula's Castle" is for sale. A Westchester County man, who co-owns the medieval Romanian fortress, plans to sell it and sink his teeth into a juicy profit. Dominic Habsburg, 69, and his two sisters - direct descendants of Romanian royalty -...

New Orleans Area Events: Margarita Darling (Update 1) 
Bayou Buzz - Jan 09 4:13 AM
Carnival Season is here! The Phunny Phorty Phellows, as they has done in the past, heralded the 2007 Mardi Gras Carnival season. I was there to witness it and felt a little envious because I wanted to be part of the fun streetcar ride.

Twelfth Night Feasts and Customs 
BellaOnline - Jan 06 7:15 PM
Twelfth Night was and is a time of merriment most likely harkening back to the celebration of the Roman Saturnalia. The custom of baking beans or other objects into a cake seems to be a pretty common tradition. Whoever gets that object in their serving becomes royalty for the night!

- Medeival Royalty

Here is an article on Medieval Royalty.

Agatha was the wife of Edward the Exile (heir to the throne of England) and mother of Edgar Ætheling, Saint Margaret of Scotland Medival Royalty and Cristina of England.


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Medieval sources
  • 3 German theories
  • 4 Kievan Medeval Royalty theory
  • 5 Bulgarian theory
  • 6 Notes and Mediveal Royalty references


Nothing is Meideval Royalty known of her early life, and what speculation has appeared is inextricably linked to the contentious issue of Agatha's paternity, one of the unresolved questions of medieval genealogy. She came to England with her husband and children in 1057, but she was widowed within weeks of arriving. In 1067, following the Norman conquest of England, she fled with her children to Scotland, finding refuge under Malcolm III, who would become her son-in-law. Her later fate, as well as the date of her death, are not recorded.

Medieval sources

Agatha's origin is alluded to in numerous surviving medieval sources, but the information they provide is sometimes imprecise, often contradictory, and occasionally outright impossible. The earliest surviving source, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, along with Florence of Worcester's Chronicon ex chronicis and Regalis prosapia Anglorum, Simeon of Durham and Ailred of Rievaulx describe Agatha as a kinswoman of "Emperor Henry" (thaes ceseres maga, filia germani imperatoris Henrici). In an earlier entry, the same Ailred of Rievaulx had called her daughter of emperor Henry, as do later sources of dubious credibility such as the Chronicle of Melrose Abbey, while Matthew of Paris calls her the emperor's sister (soror Henrici imperatoris Romani). Geoffrey Gaimar in Lestoire des Engles states that she was daughter of the Hungarian king and queen (Li reis sa fille), although he places the marriage at a time when Edward is thought still to have been in Kiev, while Orderic Vitalis in Historiae Ecclesiasticae is more specific, naming her father as king Solomon (filiam Salomonis Regis Hunorum), actually a contemporary of Agatha's children. William of Malmesbury in De Gestis Regis Anglorum states that Agatha's sister was a Queen of Hungary (reginae sororem) and is echoed in this by Alberic of Trois-Fontaines, while less precisely, Ailred says of Margaret that she was derived from English and Hungarian royal blood (de semine regio Anglorum et Hungariorum extitit oriunda). Finally, Roger of Howden and the anonymous Leges Edwardi Confessoris indicate that while Edward was a guest of Kievan "king Malesclodus" he married a woman of noble birth (nobili progenio), Leges adding that the mother of St. Margaret was of Russian royal blood (ex genere et sanguine regum Rugorum).[1]

German theories

While various sources repeat the claims that Agatha was daughter or sister of either Emperor Henry, it seems unlikely that such a sibling or daughter would have been ignored by the German chroniclers.

The description of Agatha as a blood relative of "Emperor Henry" may be applicable to a niece of either Henry II or Henry III, Holy Roman Emperors (although Florence, in Regalis prosapia Anglorum specifies Henry III). Early attempts at reconstructing the relationship focussed on the former. Georgio Pray (1764, Annales Regum Hungariae), O.F. Suhm (1777, Geschichte Dänmarks, Norwegen und Holsteins) and Istvan Katona (1779, Historia Critica Regum Hungariae) each suggested that Agatha was daughter of Henry II's brother Bruno of Augsburg (an ecclesiastic described as beatae memoriae, with no known issue), while Daniel Cornides (1778, Regum Hungariae) tried to harmonize the German and Hungarian claims, making Agatha daughter of Henry II's sister Giselle of Bavaria, wife of Stephen I of Hungary.[2] This solution remained popular among scholars through a good part of 20th century.

Although it's tempting to view St. Margaret as a granddaughter of another famous saint, Stephen of Hungary, this popular solution fails to explain why Stephen's death triggered a dynastic crisis in Hungary. If St. Stephen and Giselle were indeed Agatha's parents, her offspring should have succeeded to the Hungarian crown and the dynastic strife could have been averted. Actually, there is no indication in Hungarian sources that any of Stephen's children outlived him. Likewise, all of the solutions involving Henry II would seem to make Agatha much older than her husband, and prohibitively old at the time of the birth of her son, Edgar.

Based on a more strict translation of the Latin description used by Florence and others as well as the supposition that Henry III was the Emperor designated in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, prominent genealogist Szabolcs de Vajay popularized another idea first suggested in 1939.[3]. He hypothesized that Agatha was the daughter of Henry III's elder (uterine) half-brother, Liudolf, Margrave of West Friesland. This theory was endorsed in the academic mainstream for thirty years until René Jetté proposed a Kievan solution to the problem,[4] since which time opinion has been divided.

Kievan theory

Jetté pointed out that William of Malmesbury in De Gestis Regis Anglorum and several later chronicles unambigously state that Agatha's sister was a Queen of Hungary. From what we know about the biography of Edward the Exile, he loyally supported Andrew I of Hungary, following him from Kiev to Hungary in 1046 and staying at his court for many years. Andrew's wife and queen was Anastasia, a daughter of Yaroslav the Wise of Kiev by Ingigerd of Sweden. Following Jetté's logic, Edward's wife was another daughter of Yaroslav.

11th-century fresco representing the daughters of Yaroslav I.

This theory accords with the seemingly incongruous statements of Geoffrey Gaimar and Roger of Howden that, while living in Kiev, Edward took a nativeborn wife "of noble parentage" or that his father-in-law was a "Russian king".[5]

Jetté's theory seems to be supported by an onomastic argument.[6] Among the medieval royalty, Agatha's rare Greek name is first recorded in the Macedonian dynasty of Byzantium; it was also one of the most frequent feminine names in the Kievan Rurikid dynasty.[7] After Anna of Byzantium married Yaroslav's father, he took the Christian name of the reigning emperor, Basil II, while some members of his family were named after other members of the imperial dynasty. Agatha could have been one of these.[8]

The names of Agatha's immediate descendants — Margaret, Cristina, David, Alexander — were likewise extraordinary for Anglo-Saxon Britain. They may provide a clue to Agatha's origin. The names Margaret and Cristina are today associated with Sweden, the native country of Yaroslav's wife Ingigerd.[9] The name of Margaret's son, David, obviously echoes that of Solomon, the son and heir of Andrew I.[10] Furthermore, the first Russian saint (canonized ca. 1073) was Yaroslav's brother Gleb, whose Christian name was David.

The name of Margaret's other son, Alexander, may point to a variety of traditions, both occidental and oriental: the biography of Alexander the Great was one of the most popular books in 11th-century Kiev.

Bulgarian theory

One inference from the Kievan theory is that Edgar Atheling and St. Margaret were, through their mother, first cousins of Philip I of France. The connection is too notable to be omitted from contemporary sources, yet we have no indication that medieval chroniclers were aware of it. The argumentum ex silentio lead critics of the Kievan theory to search for alternative explanations.

One of the latest theories was proposed by Ian Mladjov.[11] Dismissing the Kievan theory as untenable, he speculates that Agatha was daughter of Gavril Radomir, Tsar of Bulgaria by his wife, a Hungarian princess, in turn the daughter of Géza. This hypothesis would have Agatha born in Hungary after her parents divorced, her mother being pregnant when she left Bulgaria after a brief marriage to Gavril. The argument revolves around the tenuous idea that Gavril's own mother was also named Agatha[12].

The weak side of the Bulgarian theory is chronology. The brief alliance of Géza's daughter with Gavril is usually dated to 987. That would make Agatha approximately fifteen years older than her husband, on the most optimistic estimate. At the time of Edgar's birth, her age would exceed 75 years, which is not realistic at all.

Notes and references

  1. ^ René Jetté. Is the Mystery of the Origins of Agatha, Wife of Edward the Exile, Finally Solved?, in "New England Historical and Genealogical Register", no. 150 (October 1996): 417-432; Gabriel Ronay, The lost King of England : the East European adventures of Edward the Exile, Woodbridge, Suffolk ; Wolfeboro, N.H., USA : Boydell Press, 1989, ISBN 0-85115-541-3, pp. 109-121.
  2. ^ Ronay, The lost King of England, pp. 109-121.
  3. ^ Jozsef Herzog, Skóciai Szent Margit származásának kérdése [The problem of St Margaret of Scotland's Scottish origins], in "Turul" 53 (1939): 1-42; Szabolcs de Vajay. Agatha, Mother of St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, in "Duquesne Review", vol. 7, no. 2 (Spring 1962), pp. 71-80.
  4. ^ René Jetté, Is the Mystery of the Origins of Agatha, Wife of Edward the Exile, Finally Solved?, in "New England Historical and Genealogical Register", no. 150 (October 1996): 417-432.
  5. ^ It has been suggested that Agatha is one of four or five Yaroslav's daughters represented next to him in the famous 11th-century fresco in the St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev. It is known that Yaroslav's other daughters married Henri I of France and Harald III of Norway. At the time of their marriages, both Harald and Andrew were — just like Edward — the landless pretenders to foreign thrones, who found shelter and support in distant but powerful Kiev.
  6. ^ Pointedly criticized by John Carmi Parsons in his article Edward the Aetheling's Wife, Agatha, in The Plantagenet Connection, Summer/Winter 2002, pp. 31-54. Donald C. Jackman, A Greco-Roman Onomastic Fund, in "Onomastique et Parente dans l'Occident medieval", Prosographica et Genealogica, Vol. 3 (2000): pp. 14-56, shows several genealogical groupings of individuals in Germany at this time, including Agatha, with seemingly Eastern names. He indicates several possible sources (e.g. the marriages of Emperors Louis the Blind and Otto II to Byzantine brides, as well as that of Vladimir I of Kiev) for the use of these names.
  7. ^ А.Ф. Литвина, Ф.Б. Успенский. Выбор имени у русских князей в X-XVI вв.: Династическая история сквозь призму антропонимики. Moscow: Indrik, 2006. ISBN 5-85759-339-5. Page 463.
  8. ^ According to one theory, Agatha was not a daughter but sister of Yaroslav. Indeed, the last wife of Yaroslav's father, Vladimir I, seems to have been a German princess, who could have been described as "filia germani imperatoris Henrici". It is generally accepted that their daughter Dobronega married Casimir I of Poland about the same year when Edward is thought to have married Agatha (judging by the date when their eldest child was born). If Agatha was Yaroslav's sister (rather than daughter as Jette thought), she would still have close ties to the Hungarian royal family. For instance, one of Yaroslav's sisters was the wife of Ladislas the Bald, a paternal uncle of Andrew I.
  9. ^ It has been argued that Ingigerd's original Christian name was Margaret. Whatever the truth, the names Margaret and Cristina were not explicitly recorded in Sweden before the 12th century. For details, see: Ф.Б. Успенский. Скандинавы - Варяги - Русь: Историко-филологические очерки. Moscow, 2002. Pages 60-61.
  10. ^ Andrew's second son was actually named David. Current scholarship traces these names to the famous oration of Ilarion of Kiev, in which he likened Vladimir (i.e., grandfather of Andrew's wife) to the victorious David and Yaroslav (i.e., Andrew's father-in-law) to the wise Solomon. The comparison became so popular that later historians assigned to Yaroslav the sobriquet "Wise".
  11. ^ Mladjov, Ian. The Bulgarian Descent of HM Simeon II, in Sega: April 13, 2002. See also here.
  12. ^ Her father was a Dyrrachian notable, Ioannes Khrysilios.
Search Term: "Agatha%2C_wife_of_Edward_the_Exile"