The strength of Queen Emma, ​​twice crowned sovereign of England

One of the most intriguing characters in Vikings: Valhalla is Queen Emma of Normandy. His trajectory in the History of the United Kingdom is unique and is one of the most interesting of the period.

Played by actress Laura Berlin, Emma was married very young to Aethelred II, with whom she had three children and reigned England. Widowed, she married the Viking Cnut, who invaded the country and took the crown, becoming the first King of England, Denmark, and Norway, with her as his consort. Even after the death of her second husband in 1035 (they were together for 18 years), Emma remained an important figure in British politics and was the mother of two Kings, acting as regent for a good part of the life of one of them.

She died on March 6, 1052, exactly 970 years ago, and, unsurprisingly, is considered one of the most important medieval queens in history.

In this first season, we follow Cnut’s invasion and his decision to stay with the English Crown, having to deal with the local nobles as well as the conflicts between the Vikings. Emma is her main ally. For the English, there are several facts that became known and will certainly be in Vikings: Valhalla, such as when Cnut “tried to change the current of the river” and when Emma had to walk barefoot over boiling iron to prove her chastity.

Emma was crowned for the first time as a teenager, and by all accounts, she already had Viking blood in her veins. In his first marriage and reign, England was still dealing with new Norse invasions, but Aethelred II did not have good advisers and went down in history as a weakling. He lost his throne to Cnut’s father, but regained it, only to die afterward. Widowed before 30, Emma agreed to marry the Viking invader to secure her position. From then on, she proved to be a great political organizer.

During his weak reign, Aethelred II made a big mistake, which appears in Vikings: Valhalla. He had the Viking camp in England massacred, but among the dead was Cnut’s sister. His decision only accelerated the Norse invasion seeking revenge. After her death, Edmund, eldest son of the first marriage, passed in front of Emma and assumed the Crown, but lost the battle against the Vikings and was forced to accept sharing power. Edmund, meanwhile, died suddenly and Emma married the squatter to ensure the lives of her children. His agreement was that his heirs with the Viking would take precedence in the succession, and within a year, Cnut had a child with Emma.

For 18 years, Emma handled domestic diplomacy – literally buying the Church’s support – and reigning alone when Cnut was abroad, which was often. After the Viking’s death, the succession took a bloody turn.

As happened before, the eldest son of Cnut’s first marriage, who was not recognized by the Church for having been with a pagan, Harrold Harrefoot, assumed the English throne. Emma’s son, Harthacnut, took the Danish throne and soon challenged his half-brother for power, growing paranoia. The Queen’s eldest son, Alfred, feared for his mother’s life and tried to rescue her in England, but was arrested and had his eyes gouged out, dying of his injuries. Fear caused the remaining children, including the future king, Edward, to flee to Normandy while Emma fled to Flanders, where she worked for the cause of her son, Harthacnut.

In the bloody clash between brothers, Harthacnut won and regained his English crown. Emma returned to the country as Queen Mother and got the sovereign to let her bring back her other children, including Edward. When Harthacnut died without heirs in 1042, Edward succeeded to the throne and thus Emma was twice Queen and twice Queen Mother. A record is unreachable even thousands of years later.

However, the relationship with Edward was never good. He resented that his mother had supported his younger half-brother for the King before him, and once he finally took the crown, he banished Emma from the court. To make her even more offended, he married the daughter of Godwin, who we’ve already seen will be one of the great villains of Vikings: Valhalla. Godwin, who had risen with Edmund’s death, was behind several murders and Edith Godwinson, his daughter, was equally ambitious and bloodthirsty. She was the Queen of England.

Emma’s pain – literally – didn’t stop there. Edward was convinced that she was the Bishop of Winchester’s mistress and, as a test of her innocence, was forced to publicly submit to the “trial by fire”, which forced her to walk barefoot on nine molten iron points. Somehow she accepted and was unhurt, proving her case and being forgiven by her son, who reinstated her in Court.

However, the Viking Queen spent her last years off, living in Winchester, where her remains still lie today. They were located in Winchester Cathedral in 2019, after spending millennia intermingled with relics and other bodies in a common mortuary, which was demolished around 1093.

About Edward? Well, after his death, Edith’s brother, Harold Godwinson succeeded him, so pay attention to Godwin’s victory and strategies. He may have managed to get his sons on the throne, but a direct heir to Emma, ​​William the Conqueror, ended the party less than a year later. But that’s a topic for another series, isn’t it?

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