«The development of the family into a small unit in which descent was traced almost exclusively through the male line is regarded as a major turning ...»
álfgifu associated her soul's salvation exclusively with her former husband's family. Seven estates that passed to religious houses were given for her soul and King Edgar's soul, and one estate was given to Bishop áthelwold to pray for the souls of álfgifu and her mother.39 álfgifu may have mentioned her mother's soul because she had probably inherited Princes Risborough from her maternal line, but contemporary kinship strategies may also have played a role.40 Through her father, álfgifu was descended from a different branch of the royal family than Kings Alfred and Edgar, but through her mother she was closer in kinship to King Alfred. By asking Bishop áthelwold to pray for her mother's soul, álfgifu highlighted kinship unity with her deceased former husband (King Eadwig) and his brother (King Edgar). álfgifu's efforts met with rewards, as King Edgar demonstrated a personal interest in her salvation. After her death he donated one of the estates which he had received from her to Ely abbey, refounded by Bishop áthelwold in 970.41 Ealdorman áthelweard the Chronicler, brother of álfgifu These patterns of reciprocal gift-giving, linking álfgifu and King Edgar, long after the dissolution of her marriage to King Eadwig, may have acted as an instrumental act in strengthening kinship unity between the two branches of an extended kindred descended from King áthelwulf.
This perspective upon kinship informed the prologue of Ealdorman áthelweard's version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (written c.978 x 88), addressed to his cousin Abbess Matilda of Essen. áthelweard stated: `As our parents taught us Alfred was the son of áthelwulf, from whom we W., no. 8 (S 1484), p. 20, ls. 6±10.
Ibid., p. 20, ls. 26±31; p. 145; S 902 for identi®cation of áthelweard in álfgifu's will with Ealdorman áthelweard the Chronicler; cf. S.D. Keynes, The Diplomas of King áthelred `the Unready' (Cambridge, 1980), pp. 192 n. 139, 264 n. 64.
Mongewell (Oxon.) in W., no. 8, p. 20, ls. 26±7; S 738 for grant of Newnham Murren (Oxon.).
W., no. 8, p. 20, ls. 4±15, 25.
As note 34 for descent of Princes Risborough.
W., no. 8, p. 20, ls. 16±17; Liber Eliensis, ed. Blake, p. 116. See notes 35, 39, for relationships between álfgifu and Bishop áthelwold.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) 388 Andrew Wareham are descended.'42 Although he added the quali®cation of Matilda's descent from King Alfred and his own from King áthelred I, the reader is given the impression that the cousins were equally connected to Kings Alfred and áthelwulf. This formed the underlying theme for the rest of the prologue.
áthelweard discussed the marriages that connected his cousin Abbess Matilda to Alfred's branch of the royal family. He did not, however, begin with the marriage of Edward the Elder's daughter, Ealdgyth, to Matilda's grandfather, Emperor Otto I, but with the marriage of King Alfred's daughter, álfthryth, to Count Baldwin of Flanders. The names of all of Baldwin's and álfthryth's children are listed, and he ends this section with: `From álfthryth, Count Arnulf, your vicinus, is descended.'43 Vicinus is better translated as `kinsman', rather than literally meaning that Count Arnulf and Abbess Matilda were neighbours.44 Ealdorman áthelweard was perhaps seeking to draw attention to the equality of kinship between Matilda and Arnulf when measured in terms of distance from Kings Alfred and áthelwulf. Ealdorman áthelweard preferred to present both himself and his two cousins as co-descendants of Kings Alfred and áthelwulf, focusing upon the most prestigious kinship tie. Ealdorman áthelweard concentrated upon Count Arnulf's branch perhaps because it was in a genealogically senior position than other branches of this extended kin-network when measured in terms of distance from King Alfred: Arnulf was the direct male descendant of Alfred's daughter, whereas Matilda was descended from Alfred's granddaughter. By focusing upon Count Arnulf's descent, áthelweard perhaps sought to narrow the kinship divide of all three cousins with King Alfred and his direct descendants, reaching forward to Kings Edgar and Eadwig. Kinship was envisaged in terms of shared descent from a common ancestor, King áthelwulf, with the royal family as the dominant male line, and the families of Count Arnulf, Abbess Matilda and Ealdorman áthelweard as equal sub-lines.
Abbess Matilda may well have shared Ealdorman áthelweard's views,45 but the key issue is Edgar's response. A change can be detected in Edgar's attitudes towards kinship and descent c.966, but ®rst we need to sketch in the circumstances surrounding his succession and coronation. Anglo-Norman historians with access to good sources of information argued that because Edgar's coronation was delayed for seven years, his ®rst son, Edward the ñtheling, born before c.964, was less The Chronicle of áthelweard, ed. A. Campbell (London, 1962), pp. 1±2.
Ibid., p. 2.
C.T. Lewis and C. Short, Latin Dictionary (Oxford, 1879). The use of Anglo-Saxon personal names by Count Baldwin's descendants is interesting in this context.
E. Van Houts, `Women and the Writing of History in the Early Middle Ages: the Case of Abbess Matilda of Essen and áthelweard', EME 1 (1992), pp. 53±68.
Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) # Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Transformation of kinship and family throne-worthy than his half-brother, áthelred the ñtheling, born after c.964.46 Some of the details surrounding the circumstances of Edgar's three marriages lack plausibility, but the chronology and the doubts that arose over Edward the ñtheling's throne-worthiness were well known. With the exception of Edmund's succession in 924 and possibly Eadred's succession in 946, Edgar was the only other tenthcentury king to succeed as a ruler of Wessex and Mercia with no other surviving claimants to challenge his authority. Though he became king of Mercia in 955 and of Wessex in 959, Edgar was not crowned for the ®rst time until 962 or 966.47 The year 965 was marked by a new monastic programme, involving plans for forty new monasteries, which was perhaps followed in 966 by the coronation and a new interest in royal descent.48 In 966 King Edgar issued a new charter for the New Minster at Winchester, which had been founded by his grandfather, King Edward the Elder (d. 924).49 Although Edward and his father King Alfred had been buried at the New Minster, it was not used again as a royal mausoleum until King Eadwig's burial there.50 King Edgar also refounded Edward's nunnery at Romsey (Hants).51 Edgar was perhaps expressing a particular interest in descent, but not necessarily in terms of exclusive patrilineal descent from father to son, to the exclusion of extended agnatic kinship bonds. In the same year he recognized kinship with his former sister-in-law álfgifu, when he granted her two estates.52 Re¯ections of this new attitude towards kinship and descent can also perhaps be detected in a shift in naming patterns given to ñthelings. Before c.964 Edgar had named his ®rst son after his grandfather (Edward) and his second son after his father (Edmund), but instead of then moving to the next layer of kinship by naming his third son, born after c.964, after his uncles (Athelstan and Eadred), or after his great-grandfather (Alfred), he selected the name of his Eadmer, Vita Dunstani in Memorials of Saint Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, ed. W. Stubbs (London, 1874), p. 214; William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, the History of the English Kings, eds. R.A.B. Mynors, R.M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1998±9), I, 258; J.L. Nelson, `Inauguration Rituals', in eadem, Politics and Ritual in Early Medieval Europe (London, 1986), pp. 284±307, at pp. 298±300.
It depends upon whether 955 or 959 was taken as the starting date. 966 would ®t neatly with two seven-year cycles: accession to a united kingdom in 959, ®rst coronation in 966 and second coronation in 973.
J.S. Barrow, `The Community of Worcester, 991±c.1100', in N.P. Brooks and C.R.E. Cubitt (eds.), St Oswald of Worcester: Life and In¯uence (Leceister, 1996), pp. 84±99, at pp. 94±5 on dating of Easter `synod' where the monastic reform programme was announced.
R. Deshman, The Benedictional of áthelwold, Studies in Manuscript Illumination 9 (Princeton, NJ, 1995), pp. 195±204; A.T. Thacker, `Dynastic Monasteries and Family Cults: King Edward the Elder's Sainted Kindred', in Higham and Hill (eds.), Edward the Elder, pp. 248±63.
Chronicle of John of Worcester, eds. Darlington and McGurk, II, 416±18.
S 738; S 739; discussed in note 38.
# Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) 390 Andrew Wareham great-great-uncle, áthelred I, the direct male ancestor of Ealdorman áthelweard.53 By choosing the name `áthelred' as a suitable one for a throne-worthy son, King Edgar was perhaps seeking, among other things, to narrow the kinship divide with álfgifu and her brother, Ealdorman áthelweard. These developments may have strengthened the sense of kinship unity between the two families, and perhaps contributed to Ealdorman áthelweard's construction of an extended royal genealogy in the prologue to his Chronicle, drawing attention to descent from áthelwulf.
After c.960 nobles who shared bonds of kinship with the royal family drew attention to the importance of the patriline and extended bonds of kinship with agnates and royal kinsmen at the expense of matrilineal (descent traced through mother's line) and cognatic (linked by a common male or female ancestor) associations. These strategies and royal kinship ideologies perhaps lay behind Ealdorman áthelweard's construction of a genealogy, which traced the descent of his own immediate family and his cousins from King áthelwulf. Descent was constructed in terms of a forward progression from a single ancestor, a ®xed point within a kinship matrix, rather than working backwards from each individual to a different combination of ancestors (ego-centred kinship).
These developments perhaps provided a key step towards the creation of the agnatic kinship and descent system within this aristocratic circle during the second half of the tenth century, replacing ego-centred kinship and bilateral descent.
Non-royal testators The combination of various kinship strategies and shared royal and aristocratic involvement in gift-giving to royal abbeys and nunneries provided the context for the formation of new kinship values within this aristocratic circle, but what of those nobles, who although they belonged to the premier rank of the aristocracy, did not share recognized bonds of kinship with the royal family?
Will of áthelgifu, St Albans Abbey archive, c.990 áthelgifu, who disposed of around forty hides of land, upheld her will with a gift to the king and queen which was equivalent to the heriot of the very highest noble rank in early eleventh-century England.54 álfgifu asked that her favoured heir, Leofsige, perhaps her son or nephew, Keynes, Diplomas, p. 164.
S 1497; The Will of áthelgifu: a Tenth-Century Anglo-Saxon Manuscript, ed. D. Whitelock with appendices by N. Ker and Lord Rennell (London, 1968), p. 7, ls. 3±4; Brooks, `Arms, Status and Warfare', in Communities and Warfare, p. 145.
Early Medieval Europe 2001 10 (3) # Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 # Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2001 Fig. 4 Family tree of áthelgifu
should be allowed to enter royal service.55 He perhaps became ealdorman of Essex and East Anglia c.994±1002. 56 For all these connections, though, áthelgifu was not a royal kinswoman. She did not seek to establish spiritual ties with the royal family or to donate estates in her testament to abbeys and nunneries founded by the royal family. She arranged to be buried at St Albans abbey, whose monks were charged with the salvation of her own and her husband's souls.57 In return St Albans received ®fteen hides on her death. The other main block of áthelgifu's bequests, comprising eighteen hides of land, was bequeathed to Leofsige.
He was asked to arrange for food grants from the estates to be given to St Albans abbey on áthelgifu's commemoration day.58 It included a barrel of ale not only for the souls of áthelgifu and her husband, but also for the souls of her brother and her parents.59 On the death of Leofsige half of these lands were to pass to his child if he had one, with the remainder descending to St Albans. There may have been the expectation that Leofsige's child would continue to donate food gifts from these lands, thereby drawing attention to a unilineal line of descent over three generations.60 áthelgifu also emphasized the importance of a wider network of ties between kinsmen in association with a group of minsters. From the ten hides, over which álfnoth received life tenure, he was asked to give Hitchin minster a smaller proportion of food renders than those which Leofsige was to donate to St Albans.61 Another agnate, álfwold, possibly áthelgifu's nephew, received life tenure over ®ve hides, from which he was to make food donations to Welwyn and Braughing minsters every Lent. His food gifts to these minsters were relatively smaller than the grants made by Leofsige and álfnoth to other houses.62 The communities at Braughing and Welwyn were to recite only around a quarter of the number of masses and psalms which were to be performed by the monks of St Albans for the salvation of áthelgifu and her husband.
There was a fourfold hierarchy: álfwold and álfnoth made smaller donations (than Leofsige) to religious houses which were to play a less áthelgifu, p. 11, l. 39. The problem arises from the absence of kinship terminology, but the common Leof stem in the names of áthelgifu's sister's son (Leofwine) and her kinswoman (Leofrun) suggests that Leofsige was a close male relative, from the next generation.
Hart, `Ealdordom of Essex', pp. 136±8.
áthelgifu, p. 7, l. 5; p. 11, l. 38.
Ibid., p. 9, ls. 23, 27; p. 11, ls. 29±31; pp. 65±6, 68±70.
Ibid., p. 11, ls. 34±5.
Ibid., p. 11, l. 36.
Ibid., p. 7, ls. 10±12. If Leofsige was áthelgifu's nephew, then this line of descent operated through her sibling.
Ibid., p. 9, l. 20. álfwold was also given a toft to share with his father álfheah, putatively identi®ed with áthelgifu's brother, ibid., p. 10 n. 13; p. 11, l. 34. áthelric and álfheah, who witness alongside each other in S 517 and S 536, may be the husband and the brother of áthelgifu, respectively.