Friday, January 24, 2014

Queen Eadburgh, Saxon Serial Killer – England, 800


Eadburh (Old English: Ēadburh), also spelled Eadburg, (flourished 789-802) was the daughter of King Offa of Mercia and Queen Cynethryth. She was the wife of King Beorhtric of Wessex, and according to Asser's Life of Alfred the Great she accidentally killed her husband by poison. She fled to Francia, where she is said to have been offered the chance of marrying Charlemagne, but ruined the opportunity. Instead she was appointed as the abbess of a convent. Here she is said to have fornicated with an English exile. As a result she was eventually expelled from the monastery and ended her days begging in the streets of Pavia. [Excerpt from Wikipedia]

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Here is a more detailed account Eadburgh’s poisoning career and aftermath, taken from the medieval chronicle by Welsh monk John Asser and retold by Charles Dickens in “A Child’s History of England” (1851):

“This Queen Edburga was a handsome murderess, who poisoned people when they offended her. One day she mixed a cup of poison for a certain noble belonging to the court, but her husband drank of it, too, by mistake, and died. Upon this, the people revolted in great crowds, and running to the palace, and thundering at the gates, cried, “Down with the wicked queen who poisons men!” They drove her out of the country, and abolished the title she had disgraced. When years passed away, some travellers came home from Italy, and said that in the town of Pavia they had been a ragged beggar woman – who had once been handsome, but was then shriveled, bent, and yellow – wandering about the streets, crying for bread; and that this beggar woman; and that this beggar woman was the poisoning English queen. It was, indeed, Edburga; and so she died, without a shelter for her wretched head.”

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On John Asser, see


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