Search for content in message boards

William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders

William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 6:36PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 24 Nov 2014 6:37PM GMT
Surnames: Flanders, Normandy, Robertid
Does anyone have any good information explaining why pope Leo IX would not allow the marriage between William duke of Normandy with Matilda of Flanders in 1049? Secondly if the pope stated they could not marry but they did anyway were their children illegitimate? If not why? Thanks for any help on this.

Re: William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders

Posted: 21 Nov 2011 3:48AM GMT
Classification: Query
According to contemporary chroniclers Pope Leo IX did not give a reason. But the church’s objections would typically be based on consanguinity, affinity or spiritual affinity. Consanguinity is being related by blood within seven prohibited degrees at that time, affinity is relationship through a marriage and followed the same rules of consanguinity while spiritual affinity related to God-parentage. For centuries historians have believed his reasons to be based on consanguinity and that William and Matilda were related through a common ancestor. As it turns out their closest blood relationship is that they were third cousins (once removed). But W.H. Blaauw, in ‘Remarks on Matilda, Queen of William the Conqueror and Her Daughter Gundrada,' Archaeologia, Vol. 32, 1847, p. 110 pointed out that Matilda’s mother, Adela of France had been previously married to Richard III, 5th Duke of Normandy, William’s uncle. And although the marriage had probably not been consummated, under canon law a second-degree affinity existed between William and Matilda, which is much closer than third cousins and an additional impediment to the marriage.

Besides the affinity information, Blaauw’s article also joins several others commenting on the parentage of Gundrada, wife of William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey. Orderic Vitalis in his Ecclesiastical History stated that Gundrada was the sister of Gerbod the Fleming, Earl of Chester (who in turn was the son of another Gerbod, the Advocate of St. Bertin). The Hyde Chronicle confirms this. Sometime during the sixteenth century, however, a copy of a charter of Lewes Priory was found with an inserted passage leading many to assume Gundrada was a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders. Then in the 1840s Stapleton theorized that Gundrada was not a daughter of the Conqueror but rather of Matilda of Flanders by an earlier marriage. Further, that this was the reason for the papal ban on the marriage between William the Conqueror and Matilda—that Matilda had a still living husband. By the 1880s several historians had discredited both theories. These included Waters, Clay, and Freeman as well as Blaauw. There is much more detail to the discussion of Gundrada but as she was not the Conqueror’s daughter she could not have been the reason that his marriage to Matilda of Flanders was banned.

Because the marriage between William and Matilda did take place, by most accounts about 1053, defying the pope, all of Normandy came under papal interdiction that wasn’t lifted for several years. William and Matilda finally obtained a dispensation from pope Nicholas II in 1059 which act legalized the marriage and legitimized their children born during the interdict. I’ve yet to see any chronicler or later historian refer to their children as ever being illegitimate though.

I hope this helps.

Jim

Re: William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders

Posted: 18 Dec 2011 6:01PM GMT
Classification: Query
I got some time to look up affinity. You say one of the reasons for not allowing the marriage between William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders was third degree affinity. How would this be a reason?

Re: William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders

Posted: 22 Dec 2011 1:24AM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 22 Dec 2011 12:43PM GMT
It was second degree affinity. You have to first understand that the laws concerning consanguinity and affinity, as impediments to marriage, changed over time. So the number of prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity that would bar a particular marriage and the method of computing them would depend on the time in which the marriage was contracted. At the time of William’s betrothal to Matilda of Flanders the canon laws were the most restrictive at seven degrees (meaning you could not marry up to a sixth cousin or a wife’s sixth cousin). But William and Matilda had impediments of both consanguinity and affinity.

With respect to the affinity between them, unlike today, cannon law determined that affinity begat affinity. For one thing that meant the relatives of the wife became the relatives of the husband once the marriage was contracted—even if it wasn’t consummated. For example a wife’s children by a former marriage were the husband’s children, her parents were his parents, her in-laws from that marriage were now his, her cousins his cousins. In other words relationships through marriage were treated the same as if they were blood relations. What we might term today 'extended family' was to them at that time family.

Jim
per page

Find a board about a specific topic