Ole Larson's Folks

This is the story of my 33rd(!) great-grandmother, Judith Martel (844-870 C.E.). That was her English name; she was also known as Judith of France, and as Judith of Flanders. We are related through my paternal grandmother, Anna Moen, according to the research of cousin Orrin Moen.

Judith was the first daughter of Charles the Bald, Holy Roman Emperor and grandson of the emperor Charlemagne. Are you with me so far? There is also a close connection (newly discovered, and  Judith Martel is just one of several connecting threads) back in these ancient times, with ancestors of my maternal grandfather, Dan Myers. Stay tuned for more on this fascinating development.

Getting back to Judith: when she was twelve years old(!), her father expediently married her off to the King of Wessex (England), Ethelwulf, at that time 45 years of age and a widower. Trouble was, Ethelwulf died before Judith even reached puberty. Ethelwulf’s son Ethelbald succeeded to the throne of Wessex, and soon married Judith himself. This earned them the censure of the Church, on the grounds of “consanguinity” (incest (!) – not a correct judgment, biologically).

The same year that the marriage was annulled (860), Ethelbald died. So, by the age of sixteen, Judith was twice Queen of England (part of it anyway), twice widowed, and childless. She sold her properties in Wessex and moved back to her father’s court. He sent her to the monastery at Senlis, presumably intending to marry her off again when the politically correct opportunity presented itself.

Judith, however, had other ideas. She eloped with Baldwin (later Baldwin I, Count of Flanders) around Christmas of 861. Not surprisingly, her father was furious; the couple was forced into refuge at the court of another noble relative. Eventually, the Pope himself intervened on Judith’s behalf, and the family was reconciled.

Baldwin I and Judith Martel had three children, one of whom (Baldwin II) became an ancestor of not only Anna Moen and myself, but a slew of royal personalities, including (ironically, through later alliances) the reigning Queen of England, Elizabeth II. Judith died at the age of 26, a short but eventful life, to put it mildly.

So there you have it – we are cousins of the Queen.

Pilgrims Galore - with scandal
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