Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England

Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in


  • Paperback
  • 234 pages
  • Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England
  • Harriet O'Brien
  • English
  • 10 September 2019
  • 1596911190

10 thoughts on “Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England

  1. Wealhtheow Wealhtheow says:

    Queen Emma called Aelfgifu by most of her subjects was a strong willed Norman who was queen of England twice over first as the wife of Anglo Saxon king Aethelred, then as the wife of the conquering Danish king Cnut She had little impact in Aethelred s court, but was according to O Brien very involved in revitalizing Cnut s reputation in Europe through conspicuous acts of piety and generosity After Cnut s death, she fought long and hard to get one of her sons on the English throne Cnut s Queen Emma called Aelfgifu by most of her subjects was a strong willed Norman who was queen of England twice over first as the wife of Anglo Saxon king Aethelred, then as the wife of the conquering Danish king Cnut She had little impact in Aethelred s court, but was according to O Brien very involved in revitalizing Cnut s reputation in Europe through conspicuous acts of piety and generosity After Cnut s death, she fought long and hard to get one of her sons on the English throne Cnut s two sons, Harold Harefoot son of Cnut s first wife, also named Aelfgifu and Harthacnut Emma s son each claimed the throne, but Harold died and Harthacnut was crowned King of England without having to fight Emma s younger son by Aethelred then returned to England he had been hiding in Normandy and joined his half brother Harthacnut as co ruler Harthacnut was a brutal and heavy handed ruler, and few mourned when he died only a few years later Edward, later called Confessor , was then the sole ruler of England Upon his childless death many years later, Emma s nephew William the Conquerer claimed the throne It s fascinating history, but there is frustratingly little known about Emma herself Today, we only have a few clues, from The Anglo Saxon Chronicle and the history she commissioned, the Encomium Emmae


  2. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    A delightfully readable book.There are only so many textual sources for Anglo Saxon history, and O Brien makes the most of them So there s familiarity about it, both in the familiar historical information from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles and the tropes we see in television and movies I found myself thinking from time to time of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.The book actually haspower and greed in it than love It was good to see the events of Emma s life and her lifetime ne A delightfully readable book.There are only so many textual sources for Anglo Saxon history, and O Brien makes the most of them So there s familiarity about it, both in the familiar historical information from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles and the tropes we see in television and movies I found myself thinking from time to time of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.The book actually haspower and greed in it than love It was good to see the events of Emma s life and her lifetime neatly and chronologically explained, and the fate of her sons and companions.O Brien s narrative doesn t leave much sense of Emma s personality or her motivation, but she characterizes her as a survivor and so she was Perhaps that was all the motivation she needed


  3. Lauren Albert Lauren Albert says:

    Interesting if not exciting look at what can seem a very alien time It is not really so much about Emma it couldnt be a modern style biography because of the lack of evidence about her life But it places her and her life history into the context of the histories of England, the Viking invasions, and Normandy before the conquest.


  4. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This non fiction book starts off on a suprisingly narrative and almost fictional note in that it sets the scene of how young Emma, daughter of the Duke Richard of Normandy was set upon a ship to England to marrie a man double her age and seal a strategic alliance against the growing strength of the Vikings Some people may not like this narrative introduction but I think it adds that extra sparkle and almost depth to the text as it helps the reader imagine what Emma must have been like as each c This non fiction book starts off on a suprisingly narrative and almost fictional note in that it sets the scene of how young Emma, daughter of the Duke Richard of Normandy was set upon a ship to England to marrie a man double her age and seal a strategic alliance against the growing strength of the Vikings Some people may not like this narrative introduction but I think it adds that extra sparkle and almost depth to the text as it helps the reader imagine what Emma must have been like as each chapter and section goes through the key areas of history and introduce key characters that had a major influence not just on Emma s own life but of course the very history of English rule.Emma is one of those forgotten queens who sadly reigned not once but twice as well as strongly in the background of two of her son s reigns Harthacnut and Edward the confessor s early rule but also in a period of history not often talked about or featured in historical literature both non fiction and fiction That is the period before 1066, when King Ethelred the Unready ill counciled was in power and the time when England was actually under Danish rule and formed part of a large scandinavian empire under King Cnut or Canute if you prefer.The reader will learn an awful lot not just about Emma but about the world and society she grew up in and will realise that Emma show s the inner strength, cunning and social survival skills that shone through in Queen Elizabeth 1st in the sixteenth century and equally Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century But I am pleased to say that not one jot of this book is dry or boring Each chapter is interesting, enriching, enlightening and even entertaining as the first.If you wish to understand better the background behind 1066 well why not start from where it truly all began, with a similar battle of wills for the throne of England before Godwinesone vs Hardrada vs Duke William it was Swein Cnut vs Edmund Ironside and the current King Ethelred who held a shakey stability And weaving between these great men was one woman who was a foriegner herself Emma of Normandy who outlived them all


  5. Joel Adamson Joel Adamson says:

    This is a quality book with beautiful printing and a very interesting subject I had high hopes that this book would be a well informed and analogous to Dan Jones s Wars of the Roses, but in a different time period Emma is a very interesting subject whose life spans several cultures and a tumultuous era of European history Unfortunately the facts are quite thin That would be okay if the author didn t fill in the gaps with admittedly outlandish speculation that directly contradictswell i This is a quality book with beautiful printing and a very interesting subject I had high hopes that this book would be a well informed and analogous to Dan Jones s Wars of the Roses, but in a different time period Emma is a very interesting subject whose life spans several cultures and a tumultuous era of European history Unfortunately the facts are quite thin That would be okay if the author didn t fill in the gaps with admittedly outlandish speculation that directly contradictswell informed books on the same subjects It got to the point where every sentence was packed with weasel words probably, maybe, we can guess, and so on , and then it became clear that the author was substituting modern caricatures of medieval life in place of facts Women are depicted as powerless units of property with enough maybe and probably to cover her , directly in contradiction to other books on the subject Having just read a treatise by Christine Fell on women in Anglo Saxon women, I wanted to get an idea of how things were different in the Norman world Instead of just saying we don t know the author fills in a best guess that has no basis in fact I had to stop reading


  6. Steve Steve says:

    The book is based on what few facts there are about Queen Emma who was the Great Aunt of William 1 of England She was the daughter of a Duke, wife of 2 Kings and Mother of 2 Kings She was determined not to take a back seat to anyone and she paid for it several times However, her strength and perseverance helped her become a force to be reckoned with in Anglo Saxon England.Queen Emma used her diplomatic skills to help shape a Viking Warlord King into a well liked sovereign However, her own pr The book is based on what few facts there are about Queen Emma who was the Great Aunt of William 1 of England She was the daughter of a Duke, wife of 2 Kings and Mother of 2 Kings She was determined not to take a back seat to anyone and she paid for it several times However, her strength and perseverance helped her become a force to be reckoned with in Anglo Saxon England.Queen Emma used her diplomatic skills to help shape a Viking Warlord King into a well liked sovereign However, her own propaganda worked against her on several occasions This book is part historical fact and part Tuchmanesque novel The facts are many and often contradictory Even though we may never know the true Queen Emma, this book provides the reader with a remarkable insight into the lives of the Anglo Saxon England Nation and their rulers


  7. Susan Fehr Susan Fehr says:

    Oh dear this was one of those books which I guessed would be difficult because of the lack of historical records on which to base the biography, but I really did feel that the style of writing was too dramatised and not sufficiently supported by the facts available There was too little critical analysis of how much Emma might have actually been involved and how much might have been cooerced from her, with or without her actual presence or cooperation Ms O Briens Emma seems to be a virtuous wo Oh dear this was one of those books which I guessed would be difficult because of the lack of historical records on which to base the biography, but I really did feel that the style of writing was too dramatised and not sufficiently supported by the facts available There was too little critical analysis of how much Emma might have actually been involved and how much might have been cooerced from her, with or without her actual presence or cooperation Ms O Briens Emma seems to be a virtuous woman in difficult circumstances with all benefit of the doubt with regard to her relations and the situation politics There is also a little to little background information presented in order to understand how Ms O Brien arrived at her opinion and conclusions Perhaps this was only a flaw in the first part of the book, but it was sufficient to put me off, and I didnt manage to finish reading it


  8. G. Lawrence G. Lawrence says:

    An excellent, smooth narrated biography of Emma and her world Really enjoyable


  9. Care Care says:

    Quick VersionA history of Emma, Norman wife of two kings of England one Anglo Saxon and one Dane , mother of two kings of England, and great aunt of William the Conqueror.Long VersionEmma is every historian s dream subject Born into a position destined to make her a pawn in the power plays of the highest nobility, Emma had the intelligence and the cunning to rise to eminence in a world where women were undereducated and disregarded.Despite a length of less than three hundred pages, this book d Quick VersionA history of Emma, Norman wife of two kings of England one Anglo Saxon and one Dane , mother of two kings of England, and great aunt of William the Conqueror.Long VersionEmma is every historian s dream subject Born into a position destined to make her a pawn in the power plays of the highest nobility, Emma had the intelligence and the cunning to rise to eminence in a world where women were undereducated and disregarded.Despite a length of less than three hundred pages, this book does an excellent job telling not only Emma s story, but the tale of the time in which she lived This is a period of English history full of shifting politics and cultures Alfred the Great had ruled shortly before, the apex of Anglo Saxon England Emma s first husband, the inept Aethelred led to its ruin Cnut the Dane conquered England and in a stunning move married the popular and recently widowed Queen Emma Following his demise, Emma held on long enough to put not just one, but two sons, one by Aethelred and one by Cnut, on to England s throne.In addition to the machinations of politics, Harriet O Brien paints a vivid picture of life at all levels of society during Emma s lifespan, interspersing her portrait with useful tidbits such as which food items would not have been seen and when they were first cultivated in England I finally learned the difference between mead and ale I highly recommend this history to readers of Helen Hollick s historical fiction, B The Forever Queen B and its recently released sequel B I am the Chosen King B It also stands on its own as a wonderfully readable account of the life and times of a woman too often overlooked in the annals of history


  10. Jamie Collins Jamie Collins says:

    This is a short history of England in the decades before the Norman Conquest The author centers her story on Emma of Normandy, who arrived in the year 1002 to marry the aging English king, but this is not a biography There is very little personal information available about any of these people who lived 1000 year ago and were for the most part illiterate.The book is accessible and entertaining The author gets a little fanciful sometimes, using educated guesses to flesh out scenes which are no This is a short history of England in the decades before the Norman Conquest The author centers her story on Emma of Normandy, who arrived in the year 1002 to marry the aging English king, but this is not a biography There is very little personal information available about any of these people who lived 1000 year ago and were for the most part illiterate.The book is accessible and entertaining The author gets a little fanciful sometimes, using educated guesses to flesh out scenes which are not documented in any detail This feels a little unscholarly, but it serves to give the reader a better sense of place and time.She tries to judge the quality and accuracy of historical records, and often supplies the reader with multiple versions of events A lot of information comes from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, but another surviving contemporary source is the Encomium Emmae Reginae, a book commissioned by Emma herself, to tell the version of history she found most useful at the time Many historical accounts were written decades after the events themselves, and many are written with obvious agendas, if only to scandalize or entertain the reader.Emma makes a great focus for the history, especially because of her marriage first to an Anglo Saxon king, and then to the viking conqueror Cnut She was queen consort of England forthan 30 years, and the mother of Edward the Confessor, and great aunt of William the Conqueror.It s fascinating to read about England as a part of the North Sea Empire Cnut ruled England competently for almost 20 years, but his reign is overshadowed by the Conquest


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Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England➺ [Reading] ➼ Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England By Harriet O'Brien ➯ – Polishdarling.co.uk A lively account of the harsh realities of war and politics in this era, the vagaries of political marriage and the thin line between invaders and settlers Publishers Weekly Emma, one of England s mos A lively account of the harsh realities A History Epub á of war and politics in this era, the vagaries of political marriage and the thin line between invaders and settlers Publishers Weekly Emma, one of England s most remarkable queens, made her mark on a nation beset by Viking raiders at Queen Emma: Epub / the end of the Dark Ages At the center of a triangle of Anglo Saxons, Vikings, and Normans all jostling for control of England, Emma was a political pawn who became an unscrupulous manipulator Regarded by her contemporaries as a generous Christian patron, an admired regent, and a Machiavellian Emma: A History PDF/EPUB ê mother, Emma was, above all, a survivor hers was a life marked by dramatic reversals of fortune, all of which she overcame.


About the Author: Harriet O'Brien

Harriet O Brien is an award winning A History Epub á author, freelance travel writer and contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveller magazine.



10 thoughts on “Queen Emma: A History of Power, Love, and Greed in 11th-Century England

  1. Wealhtheow Wealhtheow says:

    Queen Emma called Aelfgifu by most of her subjects was a strong willed Norman who was queen of England twice over first as the wife of Anglo Saxon king Aethelred, then as the wife of the conquering Danish king Cnut She had little impact in Aethelred s court, but was according to O Brien very involved in revitalizing Cnut s reputation in Europe through conspicuous acts of piety and generosity After Cnut s death, she fought long and hard to get one of her sons on the English throne Cnut s Queen Emma called Aelfgifu by most of her subjects was a strong willed Norman who was queen of England twice over first as the wife of Anglo Saxon king Aethelred, then as the wife of the conquering Danish king Cnut She had little impact in Aethelred s court, but was according to O Brien very involved in revitalizing Cnut s reputation in Europe through conspicuous acts of piety and generosity After Cnut s death, she fought long and hard to get one of her sons on the English throne Cnut s two sons, Harold Harefoot son of Cnut s first wife, also named Aelfgifu and Harthacnut Emma s son each claimed the throne, but Harold died and Harthacnut was crowned King of England without having to fight Emma s younger son by Aethelred then returned to England he had been hiding in Normandy and joined his half brother Harthacnut as co ruler Harthacnut was a brutal and heavy handed ruler, and few mourned when he died only a few years later Edward, later called Confessor , was then the sole ruler of England Upon his childless death many years later, Emma s nephew William the Conquerer claimed the throne It s fascinating history, but there is frustratingly little known about Emma herself Today, we only have a few clues, from The Anglo Saxon Chronicle and the history she commissioned, the Encomium Emmae


  2. Elizabeth Elizabeth says:

    A delightfully readable book.There are only so many textual sources for Anglo Saxon history, and O Brien makes the most of them So there s familiarity about it, both in the familiar historical information from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles and the tropes we see in television and movies I found myself thinking from time to time of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.The book actually haspower and greed in it than love It was good to see the events of Emma s life and her lifetime ne A delightfully readable book.There are only so many textual sources for Anglo Saxon history, and O Brien makes the most of them So there s familiarity about it, both in the familiar historical information from the Anglo Saxon Chronicles and the tropes we see in television and movies I found myself thinking from time to time of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.The book actually haspower and greed in it than love It was good to see the events of Emma s life and her lifetime neatly and chronologically explained, and the fate of her sons and companions.O Brien s narrative doesn t leave much sense of Emma s personality or her motivation, but she characterizes her as a survivor and so she was Perhaps that was all the motivation she needed


  3. Lauren Albert Lauren Albert says:

    Interesting if not exciting look at what can seem a very alien time It is not really so much about Emma it couldnt be a modern style biography because of the lack of evidence about her life But it places her and her life history into the context of the histories of England, the Viking invasions, and Normandy before the conquest.


  4. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    This non fiction book starts off on a suprisingly narrative and almost fictional note in that it sets the scene of how young Emma, daughter of the Duke Richard of Normandy was set upon a ship to England to marrie a man double her age and seal a strategic alliance against the growing strength of the Vikings Some people may not like this narrative introduction but I think it adds that extra sparkle and almost depth to the text as it helps the reader imagine what Emma must have been like as each c This non fiction book starts off on a suprisingly narrative and almost fictional note in that it sets the scene of how young Emma, daughter of the Duke Richard of Normandy was set upon a ship to England to marrie a man double her age and seal a strategic alliance against the growing strength of the Vikings Some people may not like this narrative introduction but I think it adds that extra sparkle and almost depth to the text as it helps the reader imagine what Emma must have been like as each chapter and section goes through the key areas of history and introduce key characters that had a major influence not just on Emma s own life but of course the very history of English rule.Emma is one of those forgotten queens who sadly reigned not once but twice as well as strongly in the background of two of her son s reigns Harthacnut and Edward the confessor s early rule but also in a period of history not often talked about or featured in historical literature both non fiction and fiction That is the period before 1066, when King Ethelred the Unready ill counciled was in power and the time when England was actually under Danish rule and formed part of a large scandinavian empire under King Cnut or Canute if you prefer.The reader will learn an awful lot not just about Emma but about the world and society she grew up in and will realise that Emma show s the inner strength, cunning and social survival skills that shone through in Queen Elizabeth 1st in the sixteenth century and equally Queen Victoria in the nineteenth century But I am pleased to say that not one jot of this book is dry or boring Each chapter is interesting, enriching, enlightening and even entertaining as the first.If you wish to understand better the background behind 1066 well why not start from where it truly all began, with a similar battle of wills for the throne of England before Godwinesone vs Hardrada vs Duke William it was Swein Cnut vs Edmund Ironside and the current King Ethelred who held a shakey stability And weaving between these great men was one woman who was a foriegner herself Emma of Normandy who outlived them all


  5. Joel Adamson Joel Adamson says:

    This is a quality book with beautiful printing and a very interesting subject I had high hopes that this book would be a well informed and analogous to Dan Jones s Wars of the Roses, but in a different time period Emma is a very interesting subject whose life spans several cultures and a tumultuous era of European history Unfortunately the facts are quite thin That would be okay if the author didn t fill in the gaps with admittedly outlandish speculation that directly contradictswell i This is a quality book with beautiful printing and a very interesting subject I had high hopes that this book would be a well informed and analogous to Dan Jones s Wars of the Roses, but in a different time period Emma is a very interesting subject whose life spans several cultures and a tumultuous era of European history Unfortunately the facts are quite thin That would be okay if the author didn t fill in the gaps with admittedly outlandish speculation that directly contradictswell informed books on the same subjects It got to the point where every sentence was packed with weasel words probably, maybe, we can guess, and so on , and then it became clear that the author was substituting modern caricatures of medieval life in place of facts Women are depicted as powerless units of property with enough maybe and probably to cover her , directly in contradiction to other books on the subject Having just read a treatise by Christine Fell on women in Anglo Saxon women, I wanted to get an idea of how things were different in the Norman world Instead of just saying we don t know the author fills in a best guess that has no basis in fact I had to stop reading


  6. Steve Steve says:

    The book is based on what few facts there are about Queen Emma who was the Great Aunt of William 1 of England She was the daughter of a Duke, wife of 2 Kings and Mother of 2 Kings She was determined not to take a back seat to anyone and she paid for it several times However, her strength and perseverance helped her become a force to be reckoned with in Anglo Saxon England.Queen Emma used her diplomatic skills to help shape a Viking Warlord King into a well liked sovereign However, her own pr The book is based on what few facts there are about Queen Emma who was the Great Aunt of William 1 of England She was the daughter of a Duke, wife of 2 Kings and Mother of 2 Kings She was determined not to take a back seat to anyone and she paid for it several times However, her strength and perseverance helped her become a force to be reckoned with in Anglo Saxon England.Queen Emma used her diplomatic skills to help shape a Viking Warlord King into a well liked sovereign However, her own propaganda worked against her on several occasions This book is part historical fact and part Tuchmanesque novel The facts are many and often contradictory Even though we may never know the true Queen Emma, this book provides the reader with a remarkable insight into the lives of the Anglo Saxon England Nation and their rulers


  7. Susan Fehr Susan Fehr says:

    Oh dear this was one of those books which I guessed would be difficult because of the lack of historical records on which to base the biography, but I really did feel that the style of writing was too dramatised and not sufficiently supported by the facts available There was too little critical analysis of how much Emma might have actually been involved and how much might have been cooerced from her, with or without her actual presence or cooperation Ms O Briens Emma seems to be a virtuous wo Oh dear this was one of those books which I guessed would be difficult because of the lack of historical records on which to base the biography, but I really did feel that the style of writing was too dramatised and not sufficiently supported by the facts available There was too little critical analysis of how much Emma might have actually been involved and how much might have been cooerced from her, with or without her actual presence or cooperation Ms O Briens Emma seems to be a virtuous woman in difficult circumstances with all benefit of the doubt with regard to her relations and the situation politics There is also a little to little background information presented in order to understand how Ms O Brien arrived at her opinion and conclusions Perhaps this was only a flaw in the first part of the book, but it was sufficient to put me off, and I didnt manage to finish reading it


  8. G. Lawrence G. Lawrence says:

    An excellent, smooth narrated biography of Emma and her world Really enjoyable


  9. Care Care says:

    Quick VersionA history of Emma, Norman wife of two kings of England one Anglo Saxon and one Dane , mother of two kings of England, and great aunt of William the Conqueror.Long VersionEmma is every historian s dream subject Born into a position destined to make her a pawn in the power plays of the highest nobility, Emma had the intelligence and the cunning to rise to eminence in a world where women were undereducated and disregarded.Despite a length of less than three hundred pages, this book d Quick VersionA history of Emma, Norman wife of two kings of England one Anglo Saxon and one Dane , mother of two kings of England, and great aunt of William the Conqueror.Long VersionEmma is every historian s dream subject Born into a position destined to make her a pawn in the power plays of the highest nobility, Emma had the intelligence and the cunning to rise to eminence in a world where women were undereducated and disregarded.Despite a length of less than three hundred pages, this book does an excellent job telling not only Emma s story, but the tale of the time in which she lived This is a period of English history full of shifting politics and cultures Alfred the Great had ruled shortly before, the apex of Anglo Saxon England Emma s first husband, the inept Aethelred led to its ruin Cnut the Dane conquered England and in a stunning move married the popular and recently widowed Queen Emma Following his demise, Emma held on long enough to put not just one, but two sons, one by Aethelred and one by Cnut, on to England s throne.In addition to the machinations of politics, Harriet O Brien paints a vivid picture of life at all levels of society during Emma s lifespan, interspersing her portrait with useful tidbits such as which food items would not have been seen and when they were first cultivated in England I finally learned the difference between mead and ale I highly recommend this history to readers of Helen Hollick s historical fiction, B The Forever Queen B and its recently released sequel B I am the Chosen King B It also stands on its own as a wonderfully readable account of the life and times of a woman too often overlooked in the annals of history


  10. Jamie Collins Jamie Collins says:

    This is a short history of England in the decades before the Norman Conquest The author centers her story on Emma of Normandy, who arrived in the year 1002 to marry the aging English king, but this is not a biography There is very little personal information available about any of these people who lived 1000 year ago and were for the most part illiterate.The book is accessible and entertaining The author gets a little fanciful sometimes, using educated guesses to flesh out scenes which are no This is a short history of England in the decades before the Norman Conquest The author centers her story on Emma of Normandy, who arrived in the year 1002 to marry the aging English king, but this is not a biography There is very little personal information available about any of these people who lived 1000 year ago and were for the most part illiterate.The book is accessible and entertaining The author gets a little fanciful sometimes, using educated guesses to flesh out scenes which are not documented in any detail This feels a little unscholarly, but it serves to give the reader a better sense of place and time.She tries to judge the quality and accuracy of historical records, and often supplies the reader with multiple versions of events A lot of information comes from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, but another surviving contemporary source is the Encomium Emmae Reginae, a book commissioned by Emma herself, to tell the version of history she found most useful at the time Many historical accounts were written decades after the events themselves, and many are written with obvious agendas, if only to scandalize or entertain the reader.Emma makes a great focus for the history, especially because of her marriage first to an Anglo Saxon king, and then to the viking conqueror Cnut She was queen consort of England forthan 30 years, and the mother of Edward the Confessor, and great aunt of William the Conqueror.It s fascinating to read about England as a part of the North Sea Empire Cnut ruled England competently for almost 20 years, but his reign is overshadowed by the Conquest


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