The Grave of Eadgith

Eadgith (910-946), daughter of King Edward the Elder of England and first wife of Emperor Otto the Great (912-973). According to the chronicler Widukind they had a very close relationship and Otto was devastated when she died in 946. Eadgith had been a major political operator within the future Holy Roman Empire, and like many royal consorts in this period was “sharing in the burden of rule”.

Otto remarried in 952, a decision that destroyed the relationship with Liudolf, his son with Eadgith. Liudolf gathered many disaffected nobles and his rebellion brought the regime of Otto the Great close to collapse. The Magyars invaded in the wake of Liudolf’s rebellion which culminated in the battle on the Lechfeld in 955, one of those important forks in the road in medieval Europe.

Eadgith was buried in the cathedral of Magdeburg, next to her husband, another sign of their close relationship. Her burial place was moved several times. A rather impressive funeral monument was created in the early 16th century, though it was generally believed that the actual bones had been lost. The grave was opened in 2008 and found to contain a lead box with an inscription stating that these were the actual remains of Eadgith. Further detailed analysis revealed that the body found had likely grown up in the South of England, had lived a life of relative luxury, eating well and riding a lot. From that was concluded that these were indeed the remains of Eadgith.

More on Eadgith in the History of the Germans Podcast, specifically episode 5 “The Father, the Son and the Uncle” Links are here: https://history-of-the-germans.captivate.fm/listen

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