The scoring system was open to interpretation, of course. Some categories are self-explanatory (the number of children, total years of marriage etc) but the question of status was a bit more subjective, depending on whether they were the wife or consort of a king, whether they ruled in their own right, whether they were of noble birth.
But it's not that which is interesting - these women were not defined by their husbands/circumstances. They bore many children, lived to good ages, raised successful children, and ruled in their own right or as regents.
They suffered tragedy and the loss of children (one, probably, by drowning and others on the battlefield) and one of our ladies had to identify the mutilated remains of her partner. Another had to tolerate rejection in the marriage bed but all of them demonstrated steadfast loyalty.
Some were put aside, for politics, or suffered marriages of convenience. But all showed mettle, and deserve to have their stories told. With card games, there is usually a winner. But who can pick a champion from all these wonderful women? My fellow authors and I championed two each, chosen because we've written about them.
First up, Mercedes Rochelle:
Gytha Thorkelsdóttir, wife of Earl Godwine of Wessex and sister of Earl Ulf (who was married to Canute’s sister Estrid).
Gytha was an aristocrat who married a commoner, even if he was an earl. She was the mother of 5 earls, A KING, and a queen. After the Norman Conquest, she led a revolt against William along with two of her sons.
Edith Swan Neck - Faithful common-law wife to Harold Godwineson, she was put aside when he was obliged to marry Ealdgyth of Mercia for reasons of state. After Hastings, the monks of Waltham called upon Edith to identify Harold’s mangled body by the marks only a wife would know.
Aelfgifu of Northampton is the handfast first wife of the Danish king Canute the Great.
But what of her rival, Emma? ~
Paula tells us that Edith was a benefactor of churches, she was resilient in the face of rejection by her husband (even though she warmed his feet for him!) and managed to escape the same fate as her brothers. She was a schemer who plotted to put her brother on the throne and sentenced to death a man who didn't like that brother. She was extravagant, but also determined ~ when her family was exiled she stayed with the husband who banished them.
Ealdgytha (Aldith), wife of Harold Godwinson, daughter of Earl Alfgar of Mercia, ex Queen of Wales.
Aldith provided an heir for Harold, (also called Harold) and a daughter for Gruffudd called Nest. She had noble Mercian blood. She unified the north and the south by her marriage to Harold.
Thanks Paula. And now for my own two ladies:
Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, wife of the lord of Mercia, a woman who ruled Mercia on her husband's behalf and then on her own, though she was never named 'queen.'
Aethelflaed was a woman in a man's world. Even though her marriage was an arranged one, she stayed loyal to her adopted land of Mercia, fighting the Viking invaders and building fortified towns. She even led an army into Wales to avenge the death of a friend.
Aelfthryth, wife of the earl of East Anglia and then wife of King Edgar, was a consecrated queen, but with none of the power wielded by Aethelflaed. She found that power when she became regent for her son, Aethelred (the Unready) and was a strong influence in her grandson's life, being cited as the woman who brought him up.
(For those who like to know such details, the illustrations used for Emma and Aethelflaed are portraits of those women. The others, I'm afraid, are just representations of Saxon ladies.)
I hope you've enjoyed looking through this little pack of cards. If you would like to know more, please do read the books, where you can find out more about these remarkable ladies:
And thanks to my guests! Find out more about the authors: