Monday, May 29, 2017

Anne of Kyiv and French kings

Anne of Kiev (Anna Yaroslavna), sometimes called Agnes, daughter of Yaroslav I of Kiev and Princess Ingegerd of Sweden; Yaroslav was grand-duke of Kiev and described in medieval histories as king of the Russians “Rex Russorum”. 
Jaroslav’s sister was married to Casimir, king of Poland. Jaroslav and Ingegard had nine children, several of whom were married to royalty: Anastasia to Andrew I of Hungary, Elisabeth to Harold of Norway and later to Sven of Denmark, Isiaslav to the sister of Casimir of Poland, Vsevolod to a daughter of the Byzantine emperor, Vladimir to a niece of a former queen of France, Matilda of Stade. 
Anne was married in 1051 to Henry I , king of France, whose first two wives had died; she was consecrated queen in Reims when Liebert, bishop of Cambray was consecrated. Anne brought no land to the marriage, but did bring connections and wealth, probably including a jacinth which Suger later mounted in the reliquary of St. Denis. Anne and Henry had three sons, Philip I, born 1052, Robert, born 1054, died young, and Hugh, born 1057, who became count of Vermandois by marriage. 
 She wrote to her father that Francia was “a barbarous country where the houses are gloomy, the churches ugly and the customs revolting.” Anna complained that the French could not write and read, and did not wash themselves. 

Anna of Kiev could write and read five languages, including Greek and Latin, while her husband and his entire court could not write and read, and signed themselves with a cross. At her wedding banquet, she was shocked to have only three dishes, while at her father’s court in Rus’, she had five dinner dishes every day. 


Anna could ride a horse, was knowledgeable in politics, and actively participated in governing France, especially after her husband died. Many French documents bear her signature, written in an old Slavic language (“Ана Ръина”, that is, “Anna Regina”, “Anna the Queen”). 

Pope Nicholas II, who was greatly surprised with Anne’s great political abilities, wrote her a letter: “Honorable lady, the fame of your virtues has reached our ears, and, with great joy, we hear that you are performing your royal duties at this very Christian state with commendable zeal and a brilliant mind.” 

Henry the First respected his wife Anna so much that his many decrees bear the inscription “With the consent of my wife Anna” and “In the presence of Queen Anna”. French historians point out that there are no other cases in the French history, when Royal decrees bear such inscriptions.

For six years after Henry’s death in 1060, she served as regent for Philip, who was only eight at the time. She was the first queen of France to serve as regent. Her co-regent was Count Baldwin V of Flanders. Anne was a literate woman, rare for the time, but there was some opposition to her as regent on the grounds that her mastery of French was less than fluent.

A year after the king’s death, Anne, acting as regent, took a passionate fancy for Count Ralph III of Valois, a man whose political ambition encouraged him to repudiate his wife to marry Anne in 1062. Accused of adultery, Ralph’s wife appealed to Pope Alexander II, who excommunicated the couple. 

The young King Philip forgave his mother, which was just as well, since he was to find himself in a very similar predicament in the 1090s. Ralph died in September 1074, at which time Anne returned to the French court. She died in 1075, was buried at Villiers Abbey, La Ferte-Alais, Essonne and her obits were celebrated on 5 September. All subsequent French kings were her progeny.
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A letter of Anne of Kyiv
I, Anne, by the grace of God queen of the Franks, wish to make known to our faithful and our relations the pact and agreement which we had between myself and abbot R. and the monks of the monastery of St. Peter of the Fosse, about a certain land located in the county of Melun, which they call Verneuil. Said abbot and monks gave me the land so that I might cultivate, plant, and build on it as best I could during my life, hold it and possess it according to my will while I live , but after my death, it would return to the monks and the church with all the building and improvements, namely with the oxen and other animals and herds and all the fruits. Which agreement, that it might be held more stable and fixed, we presented it to my son Philip, king of the Franks, to be confirmed and witnessed. He had this charter confirmed by his own hand and signed and imprinted with his seal.
Present at this agreement were F., bishop of Senlis, Baldwin chancellor, Rudolph, seneschal of the king, Baldric constable, Ingenulf, butler, Amaury, seneschal of the queen, Oscelin, marshal, and several other clerics and laymen.
Original letter: 
Notum volo fieri ego A., gratia Dei Francorum regina, fidelibus et affinibus nostris pactum et conventionem quod habuimus inter me et R. abbatem et monachos sancti Petri Fossatensis monasterii, de quadam terra in pago Milidunensi sita ,quam Vernellum nominant, quam mihi praedictus abbas et monachi ea ratione dederunt ut in vita mea eandem terram excolerem, plantarem et quanto melius possem aedificarem, et sic dum viverem eam tenerem et secundum meam voluntatem possiderem, post mortem autem meam cum tota aedificatione et tota melioratione, scilicet cum bobus et ceteris animalibus et pecoribus necnon etiam cum totis frugibus rediret ad monachos et ad ecclesiam. Quae conventio ut rata et firmior haberetur, filio meo Francorum regi Philippo firmandam et corroborandam obtulimus, qui proprii manu istam cartam firmari et sigillo suo signari et imprimi fecit. Huic conventioni interfuerunt F., Silvanectensis episcopus, Balduinus cancellarius, Rodulfus regis siniscalus, Baldricus conistabulus, Ingenulfus buticularius, Amairicus reginae siniscalus, Oscelinus marescalus et ceteri quamplurimi clerici et laici
Historical context: 
A charter in which queen Anne records an agreement between herself and the monks of Saint-Maur-des Fosse’ on the land of Verneuil, land which they had given her for her use during her lifetime, but which was to be returned to them at her death.