Anne de kiev and Raoul de Crépy: courtly love

In the eleventh century, it became difficult for kings to find a wife, the Church having hardened its positions by banning all marriage between cousins ​​up to the 7th degree. After two consecutive failures due to kinship, we ended up finding for King Henry I of France, widower and without descendants, a Russian princess, Anne of Kiev. Seduced by her great beauty, Henri married her in 1051, a marriage from which four children were born. Nine years later the king died, leaving the beautiful Slavic queen widowed, and free ...

After the death of her husband, Anne of Kiev retired to Senlis castle with her son Philippe, crowned king at the age of eight. Freed from political constraints by the regency of Baudoin, brother-in-law of Henri I, Anne can devote herself to the pleasures of hunting and social life. Very courted - she was only 35 years old - her beauty was incomparable. His charms earned him many admirers, including Count Raoul de Crepy, a powerful lord of France. A long and ardent kiss near a fountain, during a walk, sealed their love. The only downside, the count was married!

A coveted widow!

Never mind, Raoul as soon as he returned home dismissed his unfortunate wife under the pretext of adultery, and sent her to a convent. Free, he rushed to Senlis, seized the queen who was picking flowers in the open field, put her on her horse and carried her off as if it were a simple shepherdess! Arrived at Crépy-en-Valois, Raoul found a priest who immediately married them.

This kidnapping and union caused a great scandal in the kingdom. All were outraged by the conduct of the queen - who still had young children - fleeing with a man who was still married. Anne was found guilty of adultery, 3 years after the death of her husband Henri I.

The two lovers, indifferent to the tumult they had created, thought only of giving free rein to their amorous passion. But the repudiated wife of Raoul, learning of this marriage, fled from her convent to go to Rome to Pope Alexander II and plead her case, arguing of her fidelity to her husband, and begging him to intervene. The Pope, moved by so much distress and sincerity, ordered an investigation, which was conducted by the Bishop of Reims.

A rebellious couple

The bishop quickly concluded that the unfortunate was in good faith, and Raoul was ordered to separate from the queen and take back his rightful wife. Raoul categorically refused to comply and the sanction was immediate, the fiery count being excommunicated and his marriage with Anne annulled.

This sentence had no effect on the two lovers. Braving the wrath of the Church, Anne and Raoul remained united against all odds. They showed such determination to assume their love, roaming the kingdom without hiding and without showing the slightest remorse, that their union was finally admitted. Even King Philip, who had fallen out with his mother, ended up reconciling with the rebellious couple.

When the count died in 1074, the queen, despite her grief, resumed her place at court. Her son gave her back her title of queen mother without being able to participate in state affairs. She joined in death her lover two years later, and was probably buried in the abbey of Villiers. The chivalrous history of this extraordinary couple, braving the prohibitions of the time, is a rare example of modernity in these harsh medieval times.

For further

- Anne of Kiev, Queen of France by Jacqueline Dauxois. Renaissance press, 2003.

- Courtly love and chivalry: From troubadours to Chrétien de Troyes by Estelle Doudet. Librio, 2004.

- Courtly love and other stories by Edouard Brasey. Le pré aux clérs, 2007.