Ermentrude of Orléans

Ermentrude of Orléans (27 September 823 – 6 October 869) was Queen of the Franks by her marriage to Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia. She was the daughter of Odo, Count of Orléans, and his wife, Engeltrude de Fézensac. The epithet "of Orléans" is not contemporary.

Ermentrude of Orléans
Queen of Western Francia
Tenure843–869
Born27 September 823
Died6 October 869(869-10-06) (aged 46)
Burial
SpouseCharles the Bald (m. 842)
Issue
among others...
DynastyUdalriching
FatherOdo, Count of Orléans
MotherEngeltrude de Fézensac

Historiography on queenshipEdit

The traditional historiography on queenship has created an image of a queen who was the "helpmate" of a king.[1] According to J.Nelson, a queen was unable to ‘rule in her own right’ and was often relegated to the private sphere of the Carolingian world, meaning she was heavily involved in the household and family.[2] More recent historiography has examined how queens were integral to the survival of the dynasty through a maternal role. Z.Mistry has thoroughly examined Ermentrude of Orleans' role in the Carolingian dynasty by looking at the expectation of her to provide an heir for Charles the Bald.[3] However it is clear that their role has been evaluated by historians as one of domesticity and child bearing.

P.Stafford has examined queenship in a lot of depth. She summarises how vital a queen’s role was in the continuation of a dynasty, by analysing how ‘a wife’s survival depended on the production of sons’ and her primary function was to provide heirs.[4]. Stafford also described the queen’s involvement of the running of the household and being a hostess of kind. She was in charge of gift giving to high officials in a society where this was very important to maintain loyalties and bonds. The queen was also in charge of ‘the maintenance of the royal dignity’. Queens were expected to act as a chaste, loyal and wise woman, being allocated the role of ensuring that the royal family were not involved in any form of scandal.[5] Finally, they were involved in small day-to-day running of the household, as they were in charge of the king’s treasury, expected to ensure a smoothly-ran household, and to direct the education of the children.[6] They had power within the household and partially within court.

Ermentrude's consecrationEdit

Ermentrude’s consecration was written in 866 by the Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims during a politically turbulent time regarding his relationship with Charles the Bald.[7] It is the coronation of a wife rather than a bride, as she was crowned over 20 years after her wedding to Charles the Bald, as later referenced. Z. Mistry has released an in depth analysis on the ordination of Ermentrude. According to Mistry, the ordination shows two important ideas about Queen Ermentrude and queenship in general: a) dynastic security b) how to be a good wife to a king. Throughout the ordination, Ermentrude is repeatedly compared to Sarah from the Bible, and Mistry concludes that this is an attempt from Hincmar and Charles the Bald to bless the Carolingian dynasty with heirs through Ermentrude. This is because Sarah struggled to have children until she reaffirmed her faith, showing that royal fertility and dynastic survival was entwined with devout faith.[8] Mistry points out that Hincmar also developed an ideology for the behaviour of queens in his ordination and other works. Mistry analyses how Ermentrude was expected to be ‘loveable like Rachel, wise like Rebecca, loyal like Sarah.’[9] This list for how to be a good queen was common in Carolingian times, as John Eriugena praised Ermentrude for her chastity, piety, and constant prayer, all virtues reminiscent of biblical women.[10]

Additional informationEdit

Ermentrude had a gift for embroidery and an interest in religious foundations. She was described by a contemporary, John Scottus Eriugena, as a 'strong woman' (femina fortis).[11] Two letters written in her name survive, and a further five that were addressed to her.[12] She had associations with several convents, including Chelles and Avenay, and was involved in twelve charters issued by King Charles the Bald.

In August 866, Ermentrude was consecrated, over twenty years after becoming queen. It has been suggested that this reflected her husband's desire for more children.[13] Ermentrude died on 6 October 869.[13] She was buried in the Basilique Saint-Denis, Paris, France.

Marriage and issueEdit

She and Charles married in 842. Their children were:

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 100.
  2. ^ Nelson, J (1986). Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe. London. pp. 7.
  3. ^ Mistry, Zubin (2019). "Ermentrude's consecration (866): queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility". Early Medieval Europe. 27 (4): 567–588. doi:10.1111/emed.12373. ISSN 1468-0254.
  4. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 86.
  5. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 99.
  6. ^ Stafford, P (1983). Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. London. p. 112.
  7. ^ R. Stone and C. West (2015). Hincmar of Rheims: Life and Work. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 14.
  8. ^ Mistry, Z (2019). "'Ermentrude's Consecration (866): Queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility'". Early Medieval Europe: 18.
  9. ^ Mistry, Zubin (2019). "Ermentrude's consecration (866): queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility". Early Medieval Europe. 27 (4): 567–588. doi:10.1111/emed.12373. ISSN 1468-0254.
  10. ^ Mistry, Zubin (2019). "Ermentrude's consecration (866): queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility". Early Medieval Europe. 27 (4): 567–588. doi:10.1111/emed.12373. ISSN 1468-0254.
  11. ^ Herren, Michael (1993). Iohannis Scotti Eriugenae Carmina. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. p. 72. ISBN 1855001624.
  12. ^ "Ermentrud of Orleans". Medieval Women's Latin Letters. 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  13. ^ a b Jane Hyam, 'Ermentrude and Richildis', in Charles the Bald, Court and Kingdom, ed. Margaret Gibson and Janet Nelson (London, 1981), 153.
  14. ^ Jackman 2015, p. 3.

SourcesEdit

  • Jackman, Donald C. (2015). Three Bernards Sent South to Govern II: Counties of the Guilhemid Consanguinity. Editions Enlaplage.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mistry, Zubin, ‘Ermentrude’s Consecration (866): Queen-making rites and biblical templates for Carolingian fertility’ Early Medieval Europe 27 (2019), pp. 567-588.
  • Nelson, Janet, Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe (London, 1986).
  • Stafford, Paul, Queens, Concubines and Dowagers: The King’s Wife in the Early Middle Ages (London, 1983).
  • Stone, Rachel and West, Charles (eds.), Hincmar of Rheims: Life and Work (Manchester, 2015).

Further readingEdit

  • Hincmar of Rheims, De Ordine Palatii (On the Governance of the Palace) (882), trans. by P.Dutton in Carolingian Civilisation (2nd ed.) (Toronto, 2004), pp.516-532.
  • Sedulius Scottus, On Christian Rulers (trans. by R.W Dyson) (Woodbridge, 2010).
Preceded by
Judith of Bavaria
First following the Treaty of Verdun
Queen of Western Francia
843–869
Succeeded by
Richilde of Provence