Gloriosa Regina or “Alien Queen”? Some Reconsiderations on Anna Yaroslavna’s Queenship (r. 1050-1075)
By Talia Zajac
Royal Studies Journal, Vol.3:1 (2016)
Abstract: The article questions the image that has emerged in secondary sources of Anna Yaroslavna (r. 1050- c. 1075), the Rus-born wife of King Henri I of France (d. 1060), as an “alien queen” who remained a foreigner in Capetian society. Focusing on charter evidence, it examines the ways in which Anna exercised her queenship and demonstrates that while limited evidence suggests that she maintained contact with the Orthodox culture of her homeland, she also became assimilated into her husband’s western-Christian court culture. The article thus also sheds light on relations between western and eastern Christianity in the mid eleventh century.
Introduction: The marriage of Anna Yaroslavna, the daughter of Prince Yaroslav the Wise of Rus, to the third Capetian King Henri I in 1050/1051 has excited the imagination of historians since the sixteenth century. Over two hundred articles and books exist on the reign of the princess who left her Eastern Orthodox cultural environment of Kyiv (Kiev) and travelled some 2,000 kilometres across Europe to become the wife of the French king. Most of these works, however, are not scholarly in nature and often repetitive, drawing on legendary material ultimately founded on unsubstantiated early modern histories or persistent myths.
The actual number of scholarly studies on Anna Yaroslavna remains small, beginning with Labanoff de Rostoff and Caix de Saint-Aymour in the nineteenth century, and continuing a century later by the works of Roger Hallu and R.-H. Bautier. More recently, Wladimir Bogomoletz has surveyed the impressive number of charters to which Anna Yaroslavna subscribed: a total of twenty-six documents, of which six survive in the original.
Despite this interest, however, scholars of Capetian queenship have treated Anna as somewhat of an Oriental anomaly: by virtue of her Rus origins, even after her marriage, she has been repeatedly described as an “alien” whose foreign status supposedly impeded her ability to exercise her public duties as queen. For instance, in her classic study on Capetian queenship, Marion Facinger dismissed Anna’s reign with the following words, “His [Henri’s] late and short marriage to the alien Anne of Russia had not adequately prepared the new queen for a significant role in government ….”