FEMALE Ealdgyth (Aldgitha)

Wife of Eadmund Ironside, king of England.

In 1015, the ealdorman Eadric Streona invited to his quarters two thegns of the Seven Boroughs, Sigeferth and Morkere, sons of Earngrim, and caused them to be murdered there. King Æthelred took possession of their property, and had Aldgitha, Sigeferth's widow, taken to the town of Malmesbury. while she was held there, Eadmund the aetheling came and married her against his father's will ["Hoc anno, cum apud Oxenafordam magnam haberetur placitum, perfidus dux Edricus Streona digniores et potentiores ministros ex Seovenburhgensibus, Sigeferthum et Morkerum, filios Earngrimi, in cameram suam dolose suscepit, et occulte eos ibi necari jussit; quorum facultates rex Ægelredus accepit, et derelictam Sigeferthi, Aldgitham, ad Maidulfi Urbem deduci præcepit: quæ cum ibi custodiretur, venit illuc Eadmundus clito, et, contra voluntatem sui patris, illam sibi uxorem accepit, ..." John Worc. s.a. 1015 (1: 170); ASC(E) s.a. 1015; Wm. Malmes., c. 179 (1: 213); only John of Worcester gives the name of Sigeferth's widow]. On the possibility that the name Ealdgyth is an error, see the Commentary section.

Date of birth: Unknown.
Place of birth:

Date of death: After 1016.
Place of death: Unknown.
Ealdgyth had children born in 1016 and/or 1017, and was therefore still living in 1016.

Father: Unknown.

Mother: Unknown.

In his genealogical appendix, John of Worcester refers to her as a certain woman of noble descent ["... Eadmundus successit, qui duos filios, Eadmundum et Eadwardum, ex quadam nobilis prosapiæ foemina habuit; ..." John Worc., 1: 275]. For some unconvincing statements about the parentage of Ealdgyth, see the Commentary section.


(1) Sigeferth, thegn of the Seven Boroughs, d. 1015.

(2) m. 1015, Eadmund II "Ironside", d. 1016, king of England, 1016.

See the page of Eadmund II for details.

MALE Eadmund, b. 1016, d. 10 January, bef. 1057;
perhaps m. NN of Hungary.

MALE Eadweard "the Exile", b. 1016×7, d. 19 April 1057;
Agatha, living 1067.


Is the name Ealdgyth an error?
While several sources state that Eadmund married the widow of Sigeferth, only John of Worcester gives her name (see above). What causes concern is that Sigeferth's brother also appears to have married a woman with the uncommon name Ealdgyth [Will of Wulfric, in Sawyer (1979), xix, 55 (#29)]. Thus, the possibility has been suggested that when John of Worcester gave the name of Sigeferth's wife, he erred by instead giving the name of the wife of Sigeferth's brother Morcar [Freeman (1870-9), 374, n. 2; Sawyer (1979), xxiii].

Supposed brother: NN, a king in Wales.
Geoffrey Gaimar states that Eadmund married a sister of one of the Welsh kings ["Mes cist Eadmund avna gent; / Si guereiad mult vassalment. / Od lui se tindrent les Waleis. / Si prist la sour a vn des reis;" ("But this Eadmund gathered men, / And fought manfully. / With him the Welsh held. / He took [to wife] the sister of one of their kings.") Gaimar, 4219-22]. Although Geoffrey had access to sources no longer in existence, he is not generally considered a reliable source. Certainly, the name Ealdgyth is not Welsh.

Supposed father (no evidence offered, improbable): Olaf Skotkonung, d. 1021×2, king of Sweden.
Supposed mother (no evidence offered, improbable): Edla, of Vendland.
[Ronay (1984), 45; Ronay (1989), 53 & n. 2 (p. 193)] No justification is given for these relationships, and there does not appear to be any good reason to accept Ronay's statement. The name Ealdgyth, is English, not Swedish.

Falsely attributed mother: Ælfthryth.
Falsely attributed grandmother: Wulfrun.
Falsely attributed daughter by Sigeferth: Ælfgifu, m. Ælfgar, d. 1062×5, earl of East Anglia and Mercia.
[Swanton (2000), 293 (genealogical table)] Swanton's table is apparently based on a misinterpretation of a genealogical table given by Sawyer in his discussion of the family of Wulfric Spot [Sawyer (1979), xxxviii-xliii, with genealogical table on p. xlii]. There, in a partly conjectural genealogy, it is suggested that Wulfrun's daughter Ælfthryth was the mother of Ealdgyth, wife of Morcar (brother of Sigeferth), and that the latter two were the parents of Ælfgifu, wife of Ælfgar. Here, Swanton is confusing Morcar's wife with Sigeferth's wife.

Falsely attributed father: Morcar, d. 1015, brother of Sigeferth.
Falsely attributed mother: Ealdgyth, supposed daughter of Wulfric Spot.
["Siferth, according to Florence, was his brother - he calls them sons of Earngrim - but, strange as it may appear to the ideas of modern times, this connection (if it existed) does not necessarily preclude the marriage of Siferth with his brother's daughter." Robertson (1872), 187 n. 1; relationship also shown on table, p. 189] This supposed marriage of uncle to niece is nowhere documented, and is not believable.


ASC = Charles Plummer, Two of the Saxon Chronicles parallel, based on the earlier edition by John Earle, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1892-9). ASC(A) indicates the "A" manuscript of the chronicle, and similarly for the other manuscripts.

Freeman (1870-9) = Edward A. Freeman, The History of the Norman Conquest of England (5 vols. + index vol., Oxford, 1870-9)

Gaimar = Thomas Duffus Hardy & Charles Trice Martin, ed. & trans., Lestorie des Engles solum la translacion Maistre Geffrei Gaimar, 2 vols. (London 1888-9).

John Worc. = Benjamin Thorpe, ed., Florentii Wigorniensis monachi chronicon ex chronicis, 2 vols., (London, 1848-9). (The work formerly attributed to Florence of Worcester is now generally attributed to John of Worcester.)

Robertson (1872) = E. William Robertson, Historical Essays in connection with the Land, the Church, &c." (Edinburgh, 1872).

Ronay (1984) = Gabriel Ronay, "Edward Aetheling, Anglo-Saxon England's Last Hope", History Today 34.1 (Jan. 1984): 43-51.

Ronay (1989) = Gabriel Ronay, The Lost King of England: The East European Adventures of Edward the Exile (Woodbridge, 1989).

Sawyer (1979) = P. H. Sawyer, Charters of Burton Abbey (Anglo-Saxon Charters 2, Oxford, 1979).

Swanton (2000) = Michael Swanton, ed. & trans., The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (London, 2000).

Wm. Malmes., Gesta Regum = William Stubbs, ed., Willelmi Malmesbiriensis Monachi De gestis regum Anglorum. libri quinque; Historiæ Novellæ libri tres, 2 vols. (Rolls series 90, 1887-9). [I lack easy access to the more recent edition of William of Malmesbury's work edited by Mynors, Thomson, & Winterbottom.]

Compiled by Stewart Baldwin

First uploaded 20 June 2010.

Minor revision uploaded 27 June 2010 (added falsely attributed father, from reference pointed out by Todd Farmerie).

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