Queen Emma of Normandy has always been a heroine of mine. I can hear you ask, ‘Who on earth was she?’
For one, she was twice queen of England. For another, she was the aunt of William the Conqueror and for the third, she is suggested as a reason why the surname Emm exists – Emm being the diminutive of the Norman Christian name Emma. Sadly, I dispute this one because Emmerson is a surname in its own right.
However, it didn’t stop me when I was seventeen from researching Emma of Normandy. Let’s face it, the possibility of descending from a twice Queen of England is a big bonus.
Nobody knows when she was born although it is estimated to be about 985 ad which means she was still a teenager when she married Ethelred in 1002. His nickname, as we all remember from school, was Ethelred the Unready, a mis-translation from Ethelred Redeless which, according to which source you read means ‘noble counselled’ or ‘ill counselled.’ Another head of state who didn’t listen to the experts.
By Ethelred, Emma was the mother of two kings, Edward the Confessor, who founded Westminster Abbey, and Harthacnut, who died from overindulging in alcohol at a wedding.
After Ethelred’s death in 1016, she married Cnut (he of the ‘not stopping the waves’ fame) and had yet more sons. Cnut, incidentally, was much younger than her so the feminist in me says ‘good on you girl’ although, of course, it was largely a political union especially as he already had a ‘hand-fast’ wife, Elfgifu.
There is lots more to Emma this brief blog so I was delighted when she became the subject of a recent BBC Great Lives (series 42) radio broadcast on 16.5.17 when Sue Cameron promoted Emma. You can hear it on by clicking on the link.