Wednesday 4 May 2011

An Anglo-Saxon Queen

"Dignified and reserved, not inclined to talk freely with just anyone, likewise not easily approachable, she spoke quietly, and, with her cloak of seriousness and modesty, never with shouts or laughter or a raised voice. When offended, she curbed or hid her anger by holding her tongue, in order to give hope. She diligently read religious and secular books, and she herself excelled in the writing of prose and verse. In the arts of painting and needlework she was, as they say, another Minerva. She could speak the general language used in Gaul, as well as Danish and Irish, as though they were her mother-tongues; and in all these she attained not merely an average standard but perfection. When faced with some distressful or squalid scene, she could barely pause for a moment but immediately made a suitable comment on it to the company."

The Life of King Edward who rests at Westminster, trans. Frank Barlow, (1992), p.23.

The Queen in question is Edith, wife of Edward the Confessor. Thus spoke her official panegyrist, who is probably stretching the truth a little (she may well have spoken French and Danish, which was literally her mother-tongue in that her mother was Danish - but Irish seems unlikely). Considering she was possibly the great-granddaughter of a bear, her queenly dignity is especially admirable.

See also: her other biggest fan.

No comments: