Rusian genealogy

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Edward “the Exile” of England

b. unknown – d. 1057 [1]


For years scholars have debated the identity of Agatha, wife of Prince Edward the Exile of England, who was son of Edmund II Ironside, king of England. This mystery has seemingly reached a conclusion, I believe, in recent years with the arguments of René Jetté and Norman Ingham. [5] These two scholars make the convincing argument, following the primary sources, that Agatha was another daughter of Jaroslav Mudryi and that she was married to Edward during his exile in Rus′. This was clearly a dynastic marriage of the sort made by Jaroslav with exiled royalty in the middle third of the eleventh century, and thus deserves to be discussed here.

In late 1016 Edmund “Ironside” was poisoned and Knud, who came to control nearly the entire Baltic and North Sea region, became king of England. Adam of Bremen records that Edmund’s young sons, Edmund and Edward, were sent into exile in Rus′. [6] Their path there was actually more circuitous than Adam describes; they first went to Olof Skötkonnung in Sweden, only moving on to Rus′ after Knud deposed Olof in 1028. [7] An exiled prince in Rus′ was not an uncommon occurrence, coming through Rus′ in this time period were exiles from Sweden, including Olof Skötkonnung; from Norway, St. Olaf, and his son Magnus, and Olaf’s brother Harald Hardrada; and from Hungary, Andrew and his brother Levente. Jaroslav took advantage of the majority of these opportunities to build relations with these exiles and expand the reach of Rus′. These exiles might someday again rule the lands of their birth, at which time a Volodimeroviči princess would be in place as an influential figure in their kingdom. To that end, he married his daughter Agafia (as she would have been known in Rus′) to Edward “the Exile.” This was a gamble on Jaroslav’s part. The goal of dynastic marriages was to advance the political policy of the kingdom or of the family (though these were often coterminous) and a marriage with an exile was not immediately advantageous. However, the marriage would become advantageous for Jaroslav should Edward succeed to the English throne, at which time Jarolav would become the king of England’s father-in-law and his daughter would be the queen.

Edward and Agafia went to Hungary with or in the wake of Agafia’s sister Anastasia, and her husband Andrew (a similar sitution in which Jaroslav married one of his daughters to an exiled royal; see the next entry for more information). [8] Edward and Agafia had three children, Edgar, Christine, and Margaret, the significance of whose names is discussed elsewhere. [9] Some twelfth–century chronicles record Edward and Agafia living in Hungary [10] because this is where they were found by Edward “the Confessor” in 1054 when he asked Edward the Exile to return to England and become his heir. [11] The couple and their children then returned to England, arriving in 1057 only to have Edward the Exile die mysteriously before he could be confirmed as heir by Edward the Confessor. [12] Agafia then took charge of the family and moved them to Scotland, where her daughter Margaret was married to Malcolm III, king of Scotland. There has been much interest in Margaret in recent scholarship because she was such an active queen and clearly an influential woman in the Middle Ages. [13] Agafia lived with her daughter until her death, potnetially continuing to be an inluential part of her life. Agafia's heritage is recorded in the Leges Edwarde Confessoris, which states that she was the daughter of the Rusian king Jaroslav. [14] The purpose of the work is even more interesting than its plain statement of Agatha's origin. The document was created to codify Margaret's royal heritage so that she might rule for her daughter Mathilda, [15] which was also required for Mathilda’s marriage to Henry I, king of England, in 1100. [16]

Agafia's marriage to Edward the Exile was a gamble on Jaroslav's part, but it was a calculated one. It was also one that nearly paid off perfectly, since Edward was recalled to England to be heir to Edward the Confessor. What did happen was beneficial for Rus′ as well, though not immediately for Jaroslav. The prestige of Margaret a half–Rusian princess ruling in Scotland increased the renown of Rus′ in western Europe. Additionally, Rusian blood was considered good European royal blood for the purposes of Agafia's granddaughter’s marriage to the king of England accordiing to the Leges.

In an interesting postscript to this particular dynastic marriage, there is evidence that Rusian cousins in western Europe were involved with one another. Edgar “Aethling,” son of Agafia and Edward the Exile, and Philip, king of France, corresponded in the fourth quarter of the eleventh century. The Anglo–Saxon chronicle records that in 1074 Philip sent Edgar a letter in Scotland where he was staying with his sister Margaret, the queen, and “ordered him to come to him, and he would give him the castle at Montreuil so that afterwards he could daily do ill–turns to those not his friends.” [17] The relationship between the two has always puzzled historians. [18] Edgar was the last or one of the last of the Saxon royal blood in Norman–occupied England, and perhaps that alone would have made him an ally of the French king should he wage war against the Normans. But as they are first cousins their relationship was more than just a bond of mutual interest, but also a familial relationship. Thus, the dynastic marriage of Agafia Jaroslavna sheds light on multiple historical mysteries in medieval England.


  1. Birth/Death: Jette, 418.; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle s.a. 1057.[↑]
  2. Father: Adam of Bremen, liii, 51, 92.[↑]
  3. Mother: unknown.[↑]
  4. Marriage to Agafia Iaroslavna: Conjectural based upon when later children are born and when Agafia and Edward travel to Hungary.; Jetté.; Ingham.; Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, s.a. 1057, listed without date.[↑]
  5. Jetté, "Is the Mystery of the Origin of Agatha, Wife of Edward the Exile, Finally Solved?"; and Ingham, “"Has a Missing Daughter of Iaroslav Mudry Been Found?"” Nazarenko also addresses this issue, coming to the conclusion that Edward was initially in Rus′, but married someone else. Nazarenko, Drevnjaja Rus′ na meždunarodnyx putjax, 499–501. There is also the recent article, online, of Stewart Baldwin which surveys the wide range of theories in impressive detail and comes to the conclusion that "pending further discoveries, Agathat's parentage remains unknown." See the article at:[↑]
  6. Adam of Bremen, liii, 51, 92.[↑]
  7. Jetté, “"Is the Mystery of the Origin of Agatha, Wife of Edward the Exile, Finally Solved?"” 418.[↑]
  8. Ingham, “"Has a Missing Daughter of Iaroslav Mudry Been Found?"” 234–35.[↑]
  9. See the discussion on onomastics in Christian Raffensperger, ““Rusian Influence on European Onomastic Traditions.”” In Imenoslov: Istoricheskaia semantika imeni. (Moscow: Indrik, 2007), pp. 116–34.[↑]
  10. Ibid., 234–25.[↑]
  11. Jetté, “"Is the Mystery of the Origin of Agatha, Wife of Edward the Exile, Finally Solved?"” 418.[↑]
  12. Ibid., 419.[↑]
  13. Pauline Stafford, “"The Portrayal of Royal Women in England, Mid–Tenth to Mid–Twelfth Centuries,"” in Medieval Queenship, ed. John Carmi Parsons (Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 1994), 153–54, for example. [↑]
  14. Ingham, “"Has a Missing Daughter of Iaroslav Mudry Been Found?"” 252–54. [↑]
  15. Ibid.[↑]
  16. Jetté, “"Is the Mystery of the Origin of Agatha, Wife of Edward the Exile, Finally Solved?"” 419.[↑]
  17. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 209.[↑]
  18. Ingham, “"Has a Missing Daughter of Iaroslav Mudry Been Found?"” 269n99.[↑]