Anne of Kiev (c.1024–c.1075) and a reassessment of maternal power in the minority kingship of Philip I of France
By Emily Joan Ward
Historical Research, Vol.85:245 (2016)
Abstract: This article is a reassessment of Anne of Kiev as mother and guardian in the early years of the minority reign of her son, Philip I of France. The available chronicle evidence is re-examined and more emphasis is given to documentary sources which have previously been disregarded or overlooked. The article addresses outdated judgements about Anne’s role which are still prevalent in the historiography and aims finally to put them to rest, while arguing that Anne played a far more active role than has been suggested before.
Introduction: Anne of Kiev was the only medieval princess of Rus’ to travel to France for a dynastic marriage with a French king, Henry I (b. 1008, sole king 1031–60), and she became the mother of Philip I (b. 1052, sole king 1060–1108), the longest-reigning monarch of the French kingdom since Charlemagne. However, despite her prominent status, a reassessment of Anne is long overdue in modern scholarship, especially in light of recent debate about the nature of power exercised by medieval women. A desire to answer the question of how power was wielded has attracted a lot of scholarship on queens and queenship in particular, often focusing on their role as regents or guardians. Surprisingly, less research has been devoted to women who acted specifically as guardians for child kings. Through an understanding of women such as Anne, we are provided not only with a clearer picture of medieval queenship but also with valuable insights into child kingship – a topic which has been neglected for the central medieval period.
This article explores Anne’s role during her son’s minority reign in order to reassess her position as guardian and mother. There has been no attempt to discover more about the roles Anne adopted after her first husband’s death, or to critique earlier scholarship which held views we now consider to be untenable. By re-examining chronicle evidence and reviewing the documentary sources, this article will challenge the misconception that Anne played a limited role in Philip’s minority and then disappeared from his guardianship in scandal. Anne of Kiev played a far more active part than has previously been appreciated and here it is hoped to address the archaic appraisals of her roles and to dispel them conclusively.