Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2000-12 > 0976230223

From: "Stewart, Peter" <>
Subject: RE: Which Agatha? == and her sister, Anna?
Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 10:03:43 +1100

The first posting below must have seemed odd to readers, since it refers to
an earlier one which I've just learned did not go through to the list.

This is appended below, as an ante-script coming after its post-script.

Peter Stewart

-----Original Message-----
From: Stewart, Peter [mailto:]
Sent: Thursday, 7 December 2000 15:18
Subject: RE: Which Agatha? == and her sister, Anna?

A PS to my earlier post about Anna of Kiev: I remember
reading somewhere that the French royal family knew nothing
at all of her country, and before she arrived from Russia were
half expecting her to be a savage - but then it turned out that
she was the only one among them who could read & write.

Does anyone know if that is true?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Atsarisborn [mailto:]
> Sent: Wednesday, 6 December 2000 14:41
> To:
> Subject: Re: Which Agatha? == and her sister, Anna?
> "P A MagLOCHLAINN" <> wrote in message
> news:3a2b20d1$
> > Dear Jean Coeur de Lapin,
> >
> > Surely Henry I had to go to Kiev for a wife because of the
> > strict church laws against consanguinity? By the time Henry
> > needed to marry, the French royal family was already related
> > to almost every suitable house in western and middle Europe.
> Not as closely related as it was a few generations later, when they
> married first cousins with impunity. And there were lots of girls
> around who were not so closely related to Henry. Too, the Popes
> were not so interested in interfering in marriages yet -- Henry's son,
> Philip, was outraged when the church objected to his marriage to a
> woman with a husband already living. How dared they? It was
> plainly a new idea by then.
> No, this explanation makes no sense at all and does not address the
> question of how on earth Henry even heard of Kiev, much less Anna.
> There was never another genealogical connection between the two
> dynasties. There were no trade relations between Kiev and the Ile de
> France (which was all that Henry ruled), or mutual enemies against
> whom an alliance might be made.
> I have never heard any explanation of this.

The prohibiltion on marriage within seven degrees was medieval established
in the ninth century by the Pseudo-Isidorean decretals, but apparently not
firmly or widely understood until considerably later - or even today,
perhaps: Constance Bouchard in her article _Consanguinity and Noble
Marriages in the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries_ in *Speculum* 56.2 (1981)
writes that "First-cousin marriages were unknown" in this period, yet other
experts including Jean-Pierre Poly and Thierry Stasser postulate such a
marriage for no less a luminary than Raimon III (Pons I), count of Toulouse
around 950, for instance.

As to the marriage of king Henri to Agnesa/Anna of Kiev, Bouchard (loc cit)
says "Here at last was a royal bride (contemporary sources call Yaroslav a
king) unrelated to the western European kings. The need of western kings for
such brides is demonstrated by the fact that Henry, who had long remained
unmarried, finally took as his bride a girl of the very first generation of
the grand dukes of Kiev whose religion made them acceptable spouses". Unless
he grew fat through an aversion to connubial exercise, I think this is as
good an explanation of the marriage as we can expect today. The king may
also have had an eye to the future, since having such an exotic mother could
make marital alliances closer to home a bit easier for their children to

At any rate there does not seem to be evidence of a better reason for
Henri's choice. Anna is said to have arrived in France "pluribus donis", but
Marion Facinger considers that this "does not seem to have been an important
element in the marriage negotiations" of French kings at the time [_A Study
of Medieval Queenship: Capetian France 987 - 1237_, *Studies in Medieval and
Renaissance History* 5 (1968)]. She also says that Anna does not emerge from
the surviving records as more than a conventionally pious queen, which
doesn't inspire me to think of her as another Helen of Troy.

Peter Stewart

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