Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


28.3.09
  More Anglo-German Marriage Connections and Geneaology Fun

When the German king Heinrich the Fowler looked for a suitable bride for his son Otto (912-979), he contacted King Æthelstan of Wessex who sent two of his half sisters on a visit. Otto, the future Duke of Saxony and King of East Francia would make a fitting brother-in-law for the king of Wessex, and both Æthelstan and Otto shared an enemy in the Danes who had that habit of making unannounced visits to the coasts of England and northern Germany. For the young House of the Liudolfings on the other hand, a daughter of Eduard the Elder and granddaughter of Alfred the Great (I leave it to Carla to sort out that geneaology) would support their claim to the kingship. After all, the West Francian Carolingians still presented some competition.

(Left: Magdeburg Cathedral, west towers)

Otto decided for Editha (Eadgytha) who was said to have been of royal bearing and sweet disposition (1). The marriage took place in 930 and Editha got the income from the bishopric of Magdeburg as morning gift. Her tomb may have been discovered in the cathedral (final examinations of the finds have yet to be done) in November 2008.

Heinrich the Fowler died in 936 and Otto I became King of East Francia. But it took until 962 before he was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire as well.

The daughter of Otto and Editha, Liutgard (931-953), married Konrad of Lotharingia, the ancestor of the Salian Royal House - he was the great grandfather of Konrad II, the first Salian Emperor (1027). Konrad II in his turn was grandfather of Heinrich IV (1050-1106), the one who got into so much trouble with the pope in Rome (see my list of German Emperors).

Heinrich IV's daughter Agnes of Waiblingen married Friedrich I Duke of Swabia (of the House Staufen), their son Friedrich II of Swabia married Judith, daughter of Heinrich the Black Duke of Bavaria (1075-1126, of the Welfen family) (2). Their son would later be known as Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa (1122-1190).

Heinrich the Black's son Heinrich the Proud married Gertrud, daughter of the Emperor Lothar of Süpplingenburg,; their son was Heinrich the Lion Duke of Saxony and Bavaria (1129-1195). That makes Heinrich the Lion and Friedrich Barbarossa cousins, and members of the two most powerful families in Germany. Dysfunctional doesn't begin to describe the ensuing mess.

Heinrich IV's son Heinrich V, a charming young man who took his own father captive in order to get the throne, was was married to Maud (Mathilda), daughter of Henry I of England who after his death married Geoffrey of Anjou. She was the grandmother of Richard Lionheart and Mathilde, the wife of Henry the Lion.

The Welfen lost the power struggle with the Staufen after Otto IV died, but the family exists until today. And Great Britian did get its Welfen king when Georg Ludwig of the House Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Hannover ascended the English throne as George I in 1714.

(Left: King Eduard the Elder of Wessex, father of many girls and a few boys. Wikipedia common license)

(1) Editha's sister Eadgifu married King Charles III (879-929) of West Francia who got into so much trouble with the nobles of his realm that he ended his days in the dungeons of one of them. Eadgifu and her son Louis fled to England. He would return to France and become king under the name of Louis IV d'Outre-Mer in 936, with the help of Duke Hugo 'the Great' who was married to another of Eduard's daughters, Edhilda. Louis in turn married Otto's sister Gerberga. She's one of the women who deserves a biography of her own.

(2) Heinrich the Black was the son of Welf IV - the one who had divorced Ethelind of Northeim when he supported Emperor Heinrich IV against Otto of Northeim - and Judith of Flanders (daughter of Balduin IV), the widow of Tostig Godwinson Earl of Northumbria who fell at Stamford Bridge in 1066.
 
Comments:
Heinrich IV's son Heinrich V, a charming young man who took his own father capitive in order to get the throne, was was married to Maud (Mathilda), daughter of Henry I of England who after his death married Geoffrey of Anjou. She was the grandmother of Richard Lionheart and Mathilde, the wife of Henry the Lion.

Have you read "When Christ and His Saints Slept?" It deals with Mathilde and her ensuing marriages after her German husband dies. MKP claims she was really popular in Germany. Was theirs a happy marriage though?
 
I did, Meghan, though I must admit so far I haven't looked into the sources about Maud's time in Germany. As I've read from Penman's presentation of her, I think Heinrich suited her ambitions much better than Geoffrey, so maybe they got along. :)
 
Fascinating to read about all these Anglo-German connections!
 
From what I've read about Maud (Matilda), she got on quite well as Empress of Germany. Being subsequently married to a mere Count several years her junior was something of a downgrade and probably didn't do much for her temper :-)

It would be nice to think that they've found Eadgyth's tomb in Magdeburg cathedral.
 
Alianore, I had no idea how complex those connections are until I started researching them. ;)

Carla, I can imagine it was a letdown for her. Maud seems to have had her share of ambitions. :)
Btw, do you feel like sorting out Eduard the Elder's many children? T
 
It makes you wonder whether there ever were any royal families that weren't dysfunctional. Still, at least it leaves some good stories for us!
 
Wow, those are some complex connections! Fascinating, though. I didn't know about Maud's marriage to Heinrich; the little I do know is mostly about her war with Stephen.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some catching up to do... *glances at backlog; gulps* :)
 
Hi Kirsten, long time no see. Yes, I have accumulated quite a backlog, so lean back, get some tea, and start reading. :)
 
I'm rather snowed under at the moment, so I'm afraid it's likely to be some considerable time before I get to Edward the Elder's descendants. I'll add it to my list if you like, but don't hold your breath :-)
 
Carla, I understand about snowed under (I suffer from that myself) but a post about Ed's kids some time in the future would be nice indeed - he seems to have been really productive in the procreation sector. :)
 
Thanks so much for writing about this. I appreciated the picture of the Magdeburg Cathedral. I'm currently writing a biographical fiction novel of Mechthild, Heinrich the Fowler's wife and Otto the Great's mother. The picture is invaluable. Edith was a fascinating woman too, in her own right, even though there was a bit of tension between her and Mechthild. Thanks again for this great article.
 
Post a Comment

<< Home


Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK and Scandinavia.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.

e-mail
Twitter


Links leading outside my blog will open in a new window.
I do not take any responsibility for the content of linked sites.