Anna, princess of Russia, queen of France

29 Jan
Anna, princess of Russia, queen of France

In the year of our Lord 1048, Henry I, king of France, had decided to marry again. At first he wanted to marry his relative’s daughter, but the Pope said “No way!”, out of fear of inbreeding (most royal families were all relatives back then). So Henry sent emissaries all over Europe to find a suitable bride. Perhaps the emissaries got lost during their travels, because they’ve found an unlikely bride for a catholic French king – Russian orthodox princess Anna of Kiev, daughter of Yaroslav the Wise. Unlike most princesses of the time, Anna could read and write and even ride a horse. It took a while to get the things arranged, but in 1050 Anna of Kiev had married Henry and became “Anne of Rus, Queen of France”.

Even while her husband was still alive, Anna was actively participating in the affairs of France. She gave birth to 4 children, including the next king of the Franks, Philip I. After Henry’s death she has managed to govern France all by herself for a while. Yet being a woman, she didn’t get a chance to do it for long.

Some time after Anna’s death, the French have introduced the Salic Law, an interpretation of an older custom which specifically prohibits any property to be owned by a woman. By extension it means that any time a king of France dies, the crown goes to the closest relative from the male line (brother, uncle or cousin), bypassing the dead king’s wife or any of his daughters. The law was put in place to prevent an English queen to become the queen of France as well, thus ruling both countries and was the primary reason for the 100-year war between France and England. Because of the Salic Law, while there’s still Elizabeth the II, the ruling queen of England, all French queens after Anna could only reign, not rule.

But Anna’s biggest accomplishment wasn’t the fact that she could rule France all by herself. She introduced the name “Philip” into Western culture. “Philippos” means “lover of horses” in Greek. So if your name is Phil, please give your thanks to Anna. Just don’t get any crazy ideas about horses, ok?


Posted by on January 29, 2016 in History, Kings and Queens


2 responses to “Anna, princess of Russia, queen of France

  1. George Dare

    January 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Wikipedia article about Anne implies that pretty much all French kings were her descendants. So the kings of the Franks were half-Russian? Seriously?


  2. Yuris

    February 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Yes, Anna’s son Philip the 1st was of Capetian dynasty, the most senior line in all dynasties of France, so all future French kings were his descendants. Intermarriages were common those days. Anna herself was a daughter of a Russian duke and a Swedish princess.

    Because of the Salic Law, the Capetians were later replaced by Valois and then again by Bourbons.

    But it gets better! Kiev, the city Anna was from is the capital of Ukraine. So you could claim that all French kings were half-Ukrainian, eh?



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