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The crumbling remains of Alfred the Great's granddaughter - a Saxon princess who married one of the most powerful men in Europe - have been unearthed more than 1,000 years after her death.
The almost intact bones of Queen Eadgyth - the early English form of Edith - were discovered wrapped in silk, inside a lead coffin in a German cathedral.
Eadgyth - one of the oldest members of the English royal family - was given in marriage to the influential Holy Roman Emperor Otto I and lived in Germany until her death in 946AD, aged 36.
Yesterday, British archaeologists involved in the find hailed it as 'one of the most exciting historical discoveries in recent years'.
The bones have now been brought back to Eadgyth's native Wessex for scientific tests to fully confirm her identity.
Queen Eadgyth lived at the dawn of the English nation.
Her grandfather Alfred the Great was the first monarch to style himself King of the Anglo Saxons, while her step-brother Athelstan was the first King of the English.
Her bones were unearthed at Madgeburg Cathedral in Germany. The preliminary findings will be announced at a conference at the University of Bristol today.
Remains of one of the earliest members of the English royal family may have been unearthed in a German cathedral, a Bristol University research team says.
They believe a near-complete female skeleton, aged 30 to 40, found wrapped in silk in a lead coffin in Magdeburg Cathedral is that of Queen Eadgyth.
The granddaughter of Alfred the Great, she married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 929. She died 17 years later, at 36.
The team aims to prove her identity by tracing isotopes in her bones.
Professor Mark Horton, of Bristol's department of archaeology and anthropology, said: "We know that Saxon royalty moved around quite a lot, and we hope to match the isotope results with known locations around Wessex and Mercia, where she could have spent her childhood.
Queen Eadgyth's brother, King Athelstan, is considered to have been the first king of England after he unified various Saxon and Celtic kingdoms after the battle of Brunanburh in 937, Bristol University said.
After marriage, Queen Eadgyth lived in Saxony and had two children with Otto.
Their direct descendents ruled Germany until 1254 and formed many of the royal families of Europe that followed.
Otto succeeded his father as king of the Germans in 936. He arranged for his coronation to be held in Charlemagne's former capital, Aachen, where he was anointed by Hildebert archbishop of Mainz, primate of the German church. According to the Saxon historian Widukind of Corvey, at his coronation banquet he had the four other dukes of the empire, those of Franconia, Swabia, Bavaria and Lorraine, act as his personal attendants: Arnulf I of Bavaria as marshal (or stablemaster), Herman I, Duke of Swabia as cupbearer, Eberhard III of Franconia as steward (or seneschal), and Gilbert of Lorraine as Chamberlain. Thus from the outset of his reign he signalled that he was the successor to Charlemagne, whose last heirs in East Francia had died out in 911, and that he had the German church, with its powerful bishops and abbots, behind him. Otto intended to dominate the church and use that sole unifying institution in the German lands in order to establish an institution of theocratic imperial power. The Church offered wealth, military manpower and its monopoly on literacy. For his part the Emperor offered protection against the nobles, the promise of endowments, and an avenue to power as his ministeriales.
Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Oxfordshire (in the historic county of Berkshire). He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex, by his first wife, Osburga. In 868 Alfred married Ealhswith, daughter of Æthelred Mucil.
At the age of five years, Alfred is said to have been sent to Rome where, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV who "anointed him as king". Victorian writers interpreted this as an anticipatory coronation in preparation for his ultimate succession to the throne of Wessex. However, his succession could not have been foreseen at the time, as Alfred had three living elder brothers. A letter of Leo IV shows that Alfred was made a "consul"; a misinterpretation of this investiture, deliberate or accidental, could explain later confusion. It may also be based on Alfred's later having accompanied his father on a pilgrimage to Rome where he spent some time at the court of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, around 854–855. On their return from Rome in 856, Æthelwulf was deposed by his son Æthelbald. With civil war looming, the magnates of the realm met in council to hammer out a compromise. Æthelbald would retain the western shires (i.e., traditional Wessex), and Æthelwulf would rule in the east. King Æthelwulf died in 858; meanwhile Wessex was ruled by three of Alfred's brothers in succession.
Bishop Asser tells the story of how as a child Alfred won a prize of a volume of poetry in English, offered by his mother to the first of her children able to memorise it. This story may be true, or it may be a myth intended to illustrate the young Alfred's love of learning.
Originally posted by breakingdradles
I wonder how that family had King's in 2 countries that were brothers.
Must be a powerful family...
When Alfred died, Edward's cousin Æthelwold, the son of King Æthelred of Wessex, rose up to claim the throne and began Æthelwold's Revolt. He seized Wimborne, in Dorset, where his father was buried, and Christchurch (then in Hampshire, now in Dorset). Edward marched to Badbury and offered battle, but Æthelwold refused to leave Wimborne. Just when it looked as if Edward was going to attack Wimborne, Æthelwold left in the night, and joined the Danes in Northumbria, where he was announced as King. In the meantime, Edward is alleged to have been crowned at Kingston upon Thames on 8 June 900 
In 901, Æthelwold came with a fleet to Essex, and encouraged the Danes in East Anglia to rise up. In the following year, he attacked Cricklade and Braydon. Edward arrived with an army, and after several marches, the two sides met at the Battle of Holme. Æthelwold and King Eohric of the East Anglian Danes were killed in the battle.
Relations with the North proved problematic for Edward for several more years. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions that he made peace with the East Anglian and Northumbrian Danes "of necessity". There is also a mention of the regaining of Chester in 907, which may be an indication that the city was taken in battle.
In 909, Edward sent an army to harass Northumbria. In the following year, the Northumbrians retaliated by attacking Mercia, but they were met by the combined Mercian and West Saxon army at the Battle of Tettenhall, where the Northumbrian Danes were destroyed. From that point, they never raided south of the River Humber.
Edward then began the construction of a number of fortresses (burhs), at Hertford, Witham and Bridgnorth. He is also said to have built a fortress at Scergeat, but that location has not been identified. This series of fortresses kept the Danes at bay. Other forts were built at Tamworth, Stafford, Eddisbury and Warwick. These burhs were built to the same specifications (within centimetres) as those within the territory that his father had controlled; it has been suggested on this basis that Edward actually built them all.
Athelstan was groomed as king from an early age. This process was begun by Athelstan's grandfather, the ninth century king Alfred the Great. Alfred was king of Wessex with aspirations to bring England together under one monarch. Looking to the future he sent his grandson to the Midlands to be raised as a Mercian prince. Alfred's plan came to fruition in 924 on the death of Athelstan's father, Edward the Elder. Following on from the Mercian upbringing, Mercian councillors were sympathetic to Athelstan and gave him their votes when it came to choosing a new king. Inspite of inevitable opposition, Athelstan took the throne, and was to become the King of England, as Alfred had planned.
Originally posted by Kandinsky
At 36 he described her as being lucky to live so long!
For some years another prince enjoyed the hospitality of the Confessor; when his father Duncan was murdered by Macbeth, Malcolm III of Scotland was sent for safety to the English Court. There he may have met Margaret, his future Queen.
Originally posted by berenike
Statue from Magdeburg Cathedral said to represent Eadgyth and Otto I
Eadgyth grew up at the dawn of the 10th century, a period during which her half brother King Athelstan extended his rule over all of England and drew on his sisters to cement his influence among foreign rulers.
"He's well known for having a superfluity of half sisters, and he married them off to the ruling houses of the rest of the known world," Keynes said.
Eadgyth was destined for Duke Otto of Saxony, a warlord's son who would eventually rise to become the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.
Tradition holds that she and her younger sister Adiva were both presented to Otto, who was invited to pick which one he liked best. Eadgyth's looks and charm won out over her sister's youth.
Keynes groaned when asked whether Eadgyth could be compared to Diana, whose marriage to Prince Charles in 1981 captured the world's imagination.
But then he read from the chronicle of Hroswitha of Gandersheim, a contemporary of the princess, who said Eadgyth was "resplendent with a wondrous charm of queenly bearing."
Then followed a particularly florid passage in which German nun writes: "Public opinion by unanimous decision rated her the best of all women who existed at that time."
Before the invention and adoption of the printing press, almost all books were copied by hand, which made books expensive and comparatively rare. Smaller monasteries usually had only a few dozen books, medium-sized perhaps a few hundred. By the ninth century, larger collections held around 500 volumes and even at the end of the Middle Ages, the papal library in Avignon and Paris library of Sorbonne held only around 2,000 volumes.
Originally posted by berenike
reply to post by ViperFoxBat
I'm guessing that it's a reference to her piety or scholarship
Originally posted by Kandinsky
The popular impression is short people and short lives...neither are true.