Judith of Flanders

Judith of Flanders

Judith of Flanders (844 – 870) was a daughter of the Frankish king Charles the Bald. Through her marriage to two kings of Wessex she was first a queen, then later through her third marriage to Baldwin, she became Countess of Flanders.

Judith was born in October of 844, the daughter of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, and Ermentrude.

Her father gave her in marriage to Ethelwulf, King of Wessex on October 1, 856 at Verberie sur Oise, France. Soon after, Ethelwulf's son Ethelbald forced his father to abdicate. Following Ethelwulf's death on January 13, 858, Ethelbald married his widowed stepmother Judith. However, the marriage was annulled in 860 on the grounds of consanguinity.

Elopement

Judith eloped with Baldwin in January 862. They were likely married at the monastery of Senlis before they eloped. The couple was in hiding from Judith's father, King Charles the Bald, until October after which they went to her uncle Lothair II for protection. From there they fled to Pope Nicholas I. The pope took diplomatic action and asked Judith's father to accept the union as legally binding and welcome the young couple into his circle - which ultimately he did. The couple then returned to France and were officially married at Auxerre.

Baldwin was accepted as son-in-law and was given the land directly south of the Scheldt to ward off Viking attacks. Although it is disputed among historians as to whether King Charles did this in the hope that Baldwin would be killed in the ensuing battles with the Vikings, Baldwin managed the situation remarkably well. Baldwin succeeded in quelling the Viking threat, expanded both his army and his territory quickly, and became one of the most faithful supporters of King Charles. The March of Baldwin came to be known as the County of Flanders and was for a long time the most powerful principality of France.

uccession

Judith and Baldwin had a son, Baldwin II, Count of Flanders, born in 864. Judith died in 870.

Judith in fiction

Judith is a significant character in "The Marsh King", a juvenile historical novel by C. Walter Hodges, which gives her a fictional son by her marriage to Ethelbald.

Judith is also depicted in 'Judith of France' and the sequel, "Journey for a Princess" both by Margaret C. Leighton.


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