contributor.author: Heather Tanner

title.none: Campbell, ed., Encomium Emmae Reginae (Tanner)

identifier.other: baj9928.0102.004 01.02.04

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Heather Tanner, Lake Forest College, tanner@lfc.edu

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2001

identifier.citation: Campbell, Alistair, with a supplementary introduction by Simon Keynes, eds. Encomium Emmae Reginae. Camden Classic Reprints, Vol 4. Originally published in Royal Historical Society Publications, Series 3. London: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Pp. cli, 112. $64.95 0-521-62307-3. ISBN: $24.95 0-521-62655-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 01.02.04

Campbell, Alistair, with a supplementary introduction by Simon Keynes, eds. Encomium Emmae Reginae. Camden Classic Reprints, Vol 4. Originally published in Royal Historical Society Publications, Series 3. London: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Pp. cli, 112. $64.95 0-521-62307-3. ISBN: $24.95 0-521-62655-2.

Reviewed by:

Heather Tanner
Lake Forest College
tanner@lfc.edu

This reprint of the Encomium Emmae Reginae is most welcome. Not only does it make an important eleventh-century source of English and women's history more readily available, but Simon Keynes' supplementary introduction provides a helpful and thorough discussion of the historical issues raised in this work. As Keynes points out in his preface, recent new editions of eleventh-century texts and new studies of Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor, early medieval queenship, and numismatics, necessitate a new look at the Encomium as a historical source. Keynes' introduction admirably complements the strengths of Campbell's literary and philological analysis, and his detailed discussion of the manuscript tradition.

Keynes' organizing framework is a description of Emma's career under each king, with a excursus into analyzing the Encomium, before turning to Edward the Confessor's reign. Avoiding vilification and panegyric (of Emma or the other major figures) these sections detail what is known of Emma's activities, as well as analyzing her prominence at the court and in political events. Keynes' expertise with the Anglo-Saxon royal acta is judiciously used to elucidate Emma's status, and carefully balanced with the evidence of the chronicles and Emma's ecclesiastical patronage. He notes her effective use of gifts of luxurious textiles, church plate, and other ornaments. His discussion of the dynamics of the situation in 1035-42 is nuanced and particularly helpful in understanding not only the encomiast's handling of the events but also in appreciating the difficulties Emma faced in maintaining her power and status at Cnut's death.

Keynes pauses his narrative at 1042, and turns to an analysis of the Encomium itself: its author, the date of the work, the manuscript tradition, the structure and story, and then an interpretation. This choice of structure unfortunately leads to repetition (both stylistically and in content) when Keynes turns to his discussion of the story. However, Keynes advances a very persuasive interpretation of goal and context of the Encomium: Yet the purpose of the Encomium Emmae was not to establish Harthacnut's claims against Harold Harefoot, or against the atheling Edward, or indeed to establish the legitimacy of one party as opposed to another; for it was not merely the succession which mattered in 1041-2, but the very survival of the political order. The Encomium was intended for consumption by men and women who were already beholden to the Anglo-Danish cause: they did not need to be told that the Scandinavian conquest of England was justified, and they did not need to be reminded of Emma's place in the political regime which they supplanted; rather, they needed to be reminded of the circumstances in which Danish rule had been established in England, and the needed to be told that Emma stood for the furtherance of Cnut's political intentions. (lxxi). This interpretation not only elucidates the silences and artifices of the encomiast, but it also accounts for the relatively restricted circulation of this text after the Norman conquest.

In the concluding section, Keynes reviews the evidence for Emma's role in her son Edward the Confessor's reign and argues against any longstanding ill-will between the two and that her eclipse of 1043 was short-lived.

Throughout, Keynes doesn't overburden the narrative by delineating the points of difference among contemporary sources and scholarly interpretation of key events. I particularly liked the balance achieved in elucidating events from the Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Danish, Danish and Norman contexts. The footnotes provide a wealth of information and the bibliography is quite helpful. While Keynes frequently refers to the work of Pauline Stafford in the footnotes, I would have liked to have seen an additional section which dealt with the issues of Anglo-Saxon queenship, particularly since Emma played such an active role in the politics and kingdom in the second quarter of the eleventh century. While slightly flawed in its organization, the new introduction is a welcome addition to the fine edition and translation produced by Alistair Campbell.