Reconsidering Agatha, Wife of Eadward the Exile

Reconsidering Agatha, Wife of Eadward the Exile

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Reconsidering Agatha, Wife of Eadward the Exile

Ian S. R. Mladjov

The Plantagenet Connection: Summer/Winter (2003)


The antecedents of Agatha, wife of Eadward the Exile and ancestress of Scottish and English monarchs since the twelfth century and their countless descendants in Europe and America, have been the subject of much dispute. Over the last half century alone, Agatha has been identified as a Hungarian, a German, and most recently a Russian princess. However, none of these identifications is entirely convincing. The present paper reevalu-ates the disparate testimony of the primary sources and the solu-tions proposed by modern scholars before proposing a new the-ory about Agatha’s ancestry.

After his conquest of England in 1016, the Danish King Cnut (1016–1035) sent the infant sons of his recently-deceased Anglo-Saxon opponent Eadmund II Ironside to Sweden with the object of having them eliminated while in exile. The princes (athelings) Eadmund and Eadward were not murdered by the Swedish king who helped them to make their escape when the danger from Cnut became imminent. After a stay in Russia, the athelings set-tled in Hungary. In 1054, the childless English king Eadward III the Confessor (1042–1066) decided to make the surviving athel-ing, Eadward, his heir, and summoned him from Hungary.

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