Anna Yaroslavna

XI pageFrancePolitical figure

Anna (Agnes) Yaroslavna was born circa 1024. She was well-educated. The power and wealth of her father – the sovereign of one of the largest states of that time and her beauty attract¬ ed kings and Emperors of other countries. In 1034, she was proposed marriage by the brother-in-law of King Henry of France (later Emperor Henry III). But because of her young age nothing came of the matter. In 1048, ambassadors of King of France Henry I came to Kyiv to ask for Princess Anna’s hand. A year later, accompanied by a numerous retinue, she came to France with a rich dowry. The wedding service and corona¬ tion of Anna took place in a small old Reims Cathedral. She embraced Catholicism and was re-baptised Agnes.

She brought not only precious dowry but also refinement to France, and earned respect and esteem. The Popes Nicholas II and Gregory VII wrote letters to her expressing their deference.

After death of the king in 1060 Anna became the Queen Regent of her young son Philip I, the heir to the French throne. Signatures of Anna in Slavonic on many state documents of France, the oldest samples of the Ukrainian writing, have been preserved to this day.

Shortly afterward Anna married Earl Raoult de Crespy-Valois. For Anna Raoult left his wife Eleanor, but the marriage was recognised irregular. Of special interest is the characterisation of Anna given by Eleanor in complaint about her husband, “Queen Anna is the most charming and the best among the women of France.”

This attests that the Kyiv Princess was not per¬ ceived as a barbarian in France. Having lost her second husband Anna returned to her son and again became the regent. Only that time she signed not as the queen, but as “King’s mother.” Ceremonial coronation of Philip I took place in 1066, when he reached the age of fourteen. Later he married Bertha of Freisingen. France now had her new first lady, and at the beginning of the 1070 s Anna gradually left state affairs. Her last signature dates to 1075. And what happened to her next is a deep mystery.

Some historians affirmed that having with-drawn from state affairs Anna returned to Kyiv and died there. But in the 17 th century the burial place of the Queen was found in one of catholic monasteries in France. Every year on 6 September a church service is held for the repose of her soul in the monastery that she founded in Saint-Lys. The day is considered the day of her death.