Berengaria of Navarre



Berengaria of Navarre was born around 1165 her parents were Sancho VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. She was gifted the fief of Monreal in 1185 by her father. Her lands and unblemished reputation caught the eye of Eleanor of Acquitane as a possible wife for her son Richard. There was a slight glitch in that plan though, Richard was already betrothed to Alys, the sister of King Philip II of France. Richard broke that alliance in 1190 citing rumors that she had had an affair with Henry II of England, Richard’s father, and may have had an illegitimate child. An affair with dad would definitely be a good reason to call off a wedding. That same year Eleanor had met Sancho in Pamplona where he hosted her at a royal banquet in the Royal Palace of Olite. This was most likely where the marriage agreement was privately worked out. Once the formalities were arranged Richard had his mother deliver his new bride to him at Messina in Sicily. Berengaria and Eleanor arrived during Lent in 1191 so the wedding had to be put off until after Easter. While there the women met up with Eleanor’s daughter Joan, the widowed Queen of Sicily. Eleanor left Berengaria in Joan’s care and the two younger women went off to the Holy Land to catch up with Richard who was busy crusading. During this trip their ship rang aground in Cyprus and Isaac Komnenos, the island’s ruler, threatened them. Richard came to their rescue and overthrew Kommenos. The pair married there on May 12, 1191 at Chapel of St George at Limassol. She was crowned Queen that day by the Archbishop of Bordeaux and Bishops of Évreux and Bayonne. It is unknown whether or not this marriage was ever consecrated.

Berengaria, like her mother in law before her, followed her husband off on the Crusade, in this case the Third Crusade. She returned to Europe ahead of her husband and on his return he was captured. She spent her time trying to raise the ransom to have him released. When he did retain his freedom, he returned to England without her. He may have felt it was more important to regain the lands and security that his brother John lost in his absence. (Not to mention that he was more than likely gay.) Eventually Pope Celestine III forced them to reconcile. Richard moved to France with his wife and attended Mass with her each Sunday. He died in 1199 leaving her as the dowager Queen of England and Cyprus.

She never visited England during her marriage, Richard himself was only there for about six months, and it is possible she never visited afterwards making her the only Queen of England to never set foot on the island. She did send envoys since John refused to pay her her pension or money from her lands leaving her near poverty and Eleanor had to step in and intervene, as did Pope Innocent III. He owed her money until his death when his son Henry III paid her the monies owed. She returned to her dower lands in Le Mons after King Phillip of France named her Dame of Le Mans (most likely to annoy her royal brother in law) and later entered L’Épau Abbey which she had help fund. She was buried there after she died on December 23, 1230.



Poppa of Bayeux



Poppa of Bayeux was a 9th century Christian who was married/abducted/concubine of Rollo. No Vikings on the History Channel show had it more than a bit wrong, he was not Ragnar’s brother, they didn’t even live in the same era. What do we know about her? Not much unfortunately. Her father was most likely Count Berengar II of Neustria, he died when Rollo and company beseigned Bayeux which is why her abduction is the most likely reason for their marriage. At some point she moved up from captive to wife though it may have been a more danico arrangment. For those who missed it this translate to “in the Danish way” much like we see a common law marriage today. We can assume he elevated her to wife when he realized that she was inheriting a large tract of land. Having children by him, especially male, was probably another plus.


Rapin de Thoyras (Paul, M.), The history of England: Volume 1 January 1, 1757 Printed for T. Osborne

Ealdgyth, also Aldgyth or Edith


Ealdgyth, also Aldgyth or Edith was born about 1057 to Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia and Ælfgifu. In 1055 dad was charged with treason and ran to Ireland. There he founded an alliance with King Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, of Gwynedd. The two returned to England and humiliated Earl Ralph who had to call for outside assistance to ward the army off. When peace was made Ealdgyth was married to Gruffudd. This may have been more than just a political alliance, because Walter Map wrote of “a beautiful lady much beloved by the king” and William of Jumièges also wrote of her as beautiful in his written eyewittness reports of the Norman Invasion. The pair had four children together. Her husband and father’s alliance limited the power of the Godwinson’s, when Earl Ralph died in 1057, Harold gained more lands and Ælfgar was exiled for a brief time again. He returned in 1062 but died the following year. When Harold invaded Wales Gruffudd was killed in the battle. Ealdgyth then married Harold sometime between 1063 and October of 1066. She died sometime in before Christmas in 1066 after Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings.



Ermengarde of Hesbaye, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen of the Franks



Ermengarde of Hesbaye, Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen of the Franks, sounds impressive doesn’t it? She was born about 780 CE to Count Ingerman of Hesbaye and Hedwig of Bavaria. She possibly began as concubine to Louis the Pious when he was simply King of Aquitaine and later married him around 794. (She is the second of the wives of Louis the Pious that I have profiled, and the second I am descended from.) They had six children together, including the three sons, Lothair, Pepin and Louis the German who caused some many problems for dad, stepmom and little brother that was discussed when I covered Judith of Bavaria. Originally Louis was going to have to share Charlemagne’s lands with her brothers Pepin and Charles but when the died before dad Louis became co-Emperor and then Emperor in his own right on October 5, 816. The couple was anointed and crowned by Pope Stephen IV at Reims Cathedral. She died October 3, 818 in Angers, Neustria in which is now France.


Margaret of Bourbon



Margaret of Bourbon was born in 1217 to Archambaud VIII of Bourbon and Alice of Forez. When she was 15 she became the third wife of Theobald I of Navarre. He was 17 years older than her and only the one of two marriages between the Counts of Champagne to have a large age difference. Despite this difference the marriage lasted twenty years and had seven children. She had an extensive dowry with a unique stipulation, if she died not all of her land would revert to her father, it was prorated based upon how long she lived through the marriage unless it ended in an annulment. In 1234 Theobald became King and she, Queen Consort. In the end she outlived Theobald and acted as Queen Regent from 1253 until her son, Theobald II of Navarre, turned 21 three years later. Theobald had been King of both Navarre and Champagne but spent most of his time in Navarre, which caused the nobility to not want to support his son. Margaret put an end to the rebellion by travelling to the capital with their son and requesting assistance from neighboring Aragon. She also inhertited her late husband’s fight with the Knight’s Templar over their insistence of acquiring more land in Champagne. She made it illegal for them to do obtain more land.

She arranged a marriage between Theobald and Isabella, daughter of Louis IX of France. In 1256, when he reached the age of majority and took the throne in his own right she retired to her dower lands. She died on April 12, 1256 in Provins and was buried at he Saint-Joseph de Clairval abbey in Flavigny-sur-Ozerain.


St. Emma of Altdorf, also known as Hemma, Queen of the Franks



St. Emma of Altdorf, also known as Hemma, Queen of the Franks was born in 808 and was a sister to Judith that we learned about yesterday. Where Judith married Louis the Pious, Emma married his son Louis the German. He was made King of Bavaria and she was Queen Consort. When dad died the kingdom was divided and Emma and Louis ruled what became known as East Francia in the area that is now part of Germany. She became the first Frankish Queen. If you’ve been time traveling along at home, yes I know another Frank. Not much is recorded about her beyond that she was seen as prideful which alienated many in the kingdom and overly favored her son Carloman that caused dissension among his brothers. She had a stroke in 874 which left her paralyzed and unable to speak. Her husband saw her for the last time on a visit in 857 and she died on January 31, 876 just a few months before her husband. She was buried in St. Emmeram’s Abbey, Regensburg. Three of her sons became kings and three of her five daughters became nuns. She was

Sources Queenship in Medieval Europe

Empress Judith of Bavaria



Empress Judith of Bavaria was born around 797-805 to Count Welf and Hedwig, Duchess of Bavaria. Though noble by birth she was not a part of the aristocracy, but noble enough to become Louis the Pious’ second wife. They married in 819. Little is known of her role in palace affairs before the birth of her son Charles in 823. But based on known history she probably had a large say in financial matters, domestic matters and the so called minor details that needed to be done to allow Louis to concentrate on his duties as king. She was also responsible for his duties as well when he went off to fight. The pair had two children, Gisela in 820 and Charles three years later. Judith worked hard to keep her son in the line of succession and to keep him safe from his three older half brothers.

In 830 the three brothers turned on their father and accused Judith of witchcraft and adultery and sent to a nunnery at Saint Radegund. She was able to return home once the crisis was averted. About February 1, 831 (1,178 years ago today) she stool trial but no one was willing to testify against her. In 839 she was behind politically arranged marriages to protect Charles and herself, she married Gisela to Eberhard, the duke of Friuli, a supporter of Lothar, Louis’ oldest son, and her brother Conrad to Lothar’s sister in law Adelaide.

The attack against her character by her step sons were not the only ones she faced, Agobard of Lyons, a supporter of Lothar, wrote two tracts Two Books in Favor of the Sons and Against Judith the Wife of Louis, which were propaganda used to undermine her influence in court. She was accused of being cunning, underhanded, corrupting Louis and or having multiple affairs, some of them flagrantly. Louis still stood by his wife. Paschasius Radbertus accused her of practing witchcraft, and inviting seers, dream interpreters and mutes into the castle. Her supporters, however, likened her to Biblical wives such as Esther. Poems depicted her as “a second biblical Judith, a Mary sister of Aaron in her musical abilities, a Saphho, a prophetess, cultivated, chaste, intelligent, pious, strong in spirit, and sweet in conversation” and Hrabanus Maurus wrote, “Likewise, O queen, forever keep your eyes of your heart fixed upon Queen Esther as a model of dutiful and holy behaviour so that by equalling her holiness you might be able to climb from this earthly kingdom to the heights of the heavenly kingdom.”

In 833 Lothar, Peppin and Louis the German again revolted against their father, this time he was captured and imprisoned by Lothar. The younger two railed against that granting their father his freedom. He offered to forgive and make peace with Lothar but the offer was rebuffed. During this time Judith had been exiled to civitas of Tortona in Italy where a plot to take her life was being formed. Bishop Ratold, Count Boniface and Pippin heard of the plot and helped her escape to return to Louis again.

Louis died in 840 and Charles became king in April of 841. When he married Ermentrude in 842 Judith’s political power began to wane and she retired. She died April 19, 843 in Tours and is buried at the Basilica of St-Martins.


“Judith of Bavaria (802–843).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved February 01, 2017 from