For today’s inaugural Migrant Monday post I will be introducing Anna Marie Brecht Frey. She was born August 15, 1856 in Rinboussia, Germany. She immigrated to the United States with her parents, Mathias and Barbara Halt Brecht (though prior spellings had it as Briet and a few other variants) in May of 1872 and settled in Pittsburgh where she married John Jacob Frey who had come here at the same time. Anna had America, she spent her life longing to return to her home. The couple had nine children. She died in her son, Nicholas Jame’s in law’s home in South Heights, Pennsylvania on May 29, 1926 having outlived John by about a decade.
Luitgarde of Vermandois was born about 914 to Herbert II of Vermandois and Adele, daughter of Robert I of France. She was countess of Vermandois and later became duchess consort of Normandy. Her first husband, William I of Normandy (William Longsword) died without them having any children, it was a short-lived event lasting only from 940 to 942. She later married Theobald I of Blois in 943 and had four children with him, Theobald, Hugh, Odo and Emma. She died February 9, 978.
Bertrade de Montfort , Queen Consort of the Franks was born around 1070 to Simon I de Montfort and Agnes, Countess of Evreux. Her parents died while she was a teen and she was left to the guardianship of her older brother, Amaury. She was married to Fulk IV, Count of Anjou also known as Fulk le Réchin, about 1089 (she was his fifth known wife, he like to repudiate his wives) and they had a son together, Fulk, Count of Anjou and King of Jerusalem. With Fulk having a nickname that seems to indicate he was a bit of a jerk and with contemporary chronicler, John of Marmoutier claimed, “The lecherous Fulk then fell passionately in love with the sister of Amaury de Montfort, whom no good man ever praised save for her beauty.”1 This sounds like a “bad boy” fell in love with a “bad girl” which is probably right since in 1092 she ran off or was “kidnapped” by King Philip I of France. The pair married on May 15, 1092 much to the chagrin of their spouses. Bertrade didn’t see it as a big deal and expected Philip and Fulk to be friends. Philip repudiated Bertha claiming that she got too fat and locked her up in the fortress of Montreuil sur Mer. Neither Hugh of Die nor Pope Urban II agreed and the pair was excommunicated. In 1095 and poor Philip wasn’t allowed to run off and join the First Crusade. Philip and Betrade had three children, Philip, Fleury and Cecile.
Bertrade made the annals of another chronicler, this time, Orderic Vitalis, who claimed that she was so concerned with making sure one of her sons succeeded Philip that she wrote to Henry I of England to have Philip’s oldest son, Louis, arrested. (Some claimed she was behind the death of his son Geoffroy on May 19, 1106 from a ‘friendly fire’ arrow.) He also claimed she used witchcraft and poison against her stepson but to no avail, he succeeded his father in 1108. Betrade lived on and according to William of Malmesbury, a 12th Century historian and monk “Bertrade, still young and beautiful, took the veil at Fontevraud Abbey, always charming to men, pleasing to God, and like an angel.”, 1 Not sure about witchcraft and joining a convent a few years later but stranger things have happened. She died February 14, 1117.
I think for the next few weeks at least I will highlight those women who jumped on a boat and crossed the Atlantic to start a new life. They may not be famous or wealthy but they changed the world all the same.
Marguerite de Sablé was born abou 1179 in France to Robert de Sable and Clémence de Mayenne. She was the eldest of three children, only two of which survived to adulthood. Her brother, Robert, died as a child and her younger sister was Phillipa. Her father was a Grand Master of the Knights Templar and died in the Holy Land on September 23, 1193. At this point Marguerite had been married for two years to William des Roches, Seneschal of Anjou, a knight in the Third Crusade, she was second wife. Her father’s death made the young couple extrememly wealthy and William a very powerful man. The pair had three children, Robert who died young as his uncle before him, Jeanne and Clemence. William died on July 15, 1222.
She supported the two abbeys that her father founded. In 1200 she lands to the abbey at Perray aux Nonnains which her uncle added to. And in 1209 they had the abbey at Perray-Nauf moved to closer to Sable. In 1227 she donated to the nuns at the Abbey at Bonlieu to pray for the souls of her departed family. In 1235 she supported the monks at the Church of St. Nicholas of Sable.
Marguerite died in 1238 (around the same time as their daughter Jeanne) and is buried in Perray-aux-Nonnains, France while her heart is buried with William at the Abbey at Bonlieu.
Jeanne, Dame de Chateaudun was born around 1227 in France. Her father was Geoffrey VI, Viscount de Chateaudun and her mother was Clémence des Roches. She married Jean I de Montfort in March of 1248 and the pair had a daughter, Beatrice. Jean died during the Seventh Crusade in 1249 while in Cyrpus. She married again, this time to Jean de Brienne, Grand Butler of France and son of the King of Jersuluam and Emperor of Constantinople in 1251. She had her second daughter with her new husband, Blanche. In 1265 she attained the additional title of Dame de Chateau-du-Loir. She eventually passed on her title of Loupeland to Blanche. It is unknown when she died.
Bertrada of Prüm was born about 670, her parentage is uncertain and there are three main possibilities (well 2.5, two of them can both be true). Her husband has been lost to time though his mother was most likely Irmina who was the daughter of Hugobert and Chariveus, Count of Laon. What is known is that she had three children, Hardrad, whom she outlived, Charibert of Laon and Weta who married Cario. She and Charibert founded the Benedictine Abbey at Prum in Lorraine on July 23, 720, they also made donations to the Abbey of Echternach. Through Charibert she is the great grandmother of Charlomagne and well almost everyone in my family tree.
Margaret Wake, 3rd Baroness Wake of Liddell and Countess of Kent was born was born about 1297 to John Wake and Joan de Fiennes. When she was about 15, so in 1312, she married John Comyn who was killed at the Battle of Bannockburn on June 24, 1314. Their son, Aymer, died as a toddler in 1316. At Christmas time in 1325, she received dispensation to wed again, this time to Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. The pair had four children before he was beheaded for treason in 1330. She and the three children had been imprisoned as well, the youngest John was not yet born when her brother was also accused but was later pardoned. When Edward III took control of his crown he brought Margaret and her children to his household and treated them as if they were his family, which helped lead to Joan’s marriage to Prince Edward. She gained the title of Baroness of Wake but it was short lived, she died in the fall of 1349 of plague.
Anne Beauchamp, 16th Countess of Warwick was born July 13, 1426 at Caversham Castle in what is now Berkshire. Her father was Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl of Warwick and her mother was his second wife, Isabel le Despenser. She married Richard Neville after being betrothed to him in 1434 (yes she was eight, he was six). They were then married in April of 1436 in a double ceremony that also included her brother Henry and Cecily Neville With her father dying then her brother Henry and his daughter Lady Anne Warwick Neville inherited the title of Warwick along with other lands through his wife. Her three older half sisters contested this. Her sister Eleanor was married to Edmund Beaufort who was closely related to the Nevilles. Richard Neville was the grandson of Joan Beaufort, Edmund’s aunt. This increased tensions between the two families. It took many years, and a Papal dispensation to eat eggs and meat during Lent to help her bear children., The couple finally had two daughters, Isabel, who married George, the Duke of Clarence(this required another Papal dispensation since Edward IV did not approve of it) and Anne who married Prince Edward first and then Richard, Duke of Gloucester who of course became Richard III. The marriage of Isabel and George caused the small family to flee England for a time during which Isabel had a stillborn son while on the ship, Calais had turned them away.
Richard Neville was often sent out of the country and there is some reason to believe that Anne went with him at least some of those times, so though the marriage was a political one they seemed content even thought Richard fathered at least one illegitimate child during the marriage.
Because of bickering over Anne’s estate Richard gave up most of the Warwick lands, which had, been held in his wife’s name and his Salisbury lands to George as well as the office of The Great Chamberlain of England. Edward inherited those lands and titles after his father was executed for treason in 1478. Anne outlived her husband, daughters and sons in laws and passed away in obscurity she was not even at the Coronation of Richard. An act of Parliament in 1474 had labeled her officially dead leaving her lands split between her sons in laws. She had petitioned Henry to receive some of her lands back with the stipulation that they would return to the Crown upon her death. She died on September 20, 1492.
Godgifu, Lady Godiva
Godgifu, or Lady Godiva as she is now known (it isn’t just a candy company) was a 11th century noblewoman married to Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who was her second husband. They were both well known for donating to the church and she was the driving force behind his founding of the Benedictine monastery at Coventry in 1043. Her name also shows up with his on endowments at Stow St Mary, Lincolnshire and a land grant to the monastery of St. Mary, Worcester in the following decade. They also donated largely to other monasteries, in money, land, jewelry and artwork. She also joined her sister, Wulviva, in given manors to the cathedral at Hereford. Unfortunately after the little skirmish in 1066 occurred and a lot of it was carried off to Normandy.
She died before the Doomsday Book was published in 1086 but she is listed as one of the few Anglo-Saxon and only female major landholder. She is most likely buried with her husband at Coventry but, “According to the Chronicon Abbatiae de Evesham, or Evesham Chronicle, she was buried at the Church of the Blessed Trinity at Evesham, which is no longer standing.”1 She was so well thought of that when William the Conqueror (or Bastard, or hell uncle Will) gave away her grandsons lands and titles, he did not remove hers from her.
Now the legend tells a different tale. In the 13th century a story came about that her husband was a cruel and tightfisted Lord who was starving his peasants. She begged tax relief for them and—now here is a varience—she either took it upon herself to shame him, or he dared her, but she supposedly rode naked through the town to sway him. Now, did you ever hear of a “Peeping Tom” well, that phrase is part of the legend. Supposedly Leofric ordered everyone to stay indoors with their doors and shutters closed so they would not gaze upon her. Except one man, Tom, grew too curious and peeped out through his shutters. Some say he was blinded by God for doing so, others the townspeople. There is no proof for her ride, or of a tailor named Tom taking a look. In fact, it smacks of the remains of a fertility festival OR an early Christian practice of penitents humbling themselves but stripping to their undergarments. But naked means naked so that’s not a point agreed on by many.