IN its 950 years, Richmond citadel has seen many curious goings-on, however maybe none has been extra curious than the carryings-on between its founder and the daughter of King Harold.
Gunhilda, probably the most stunning lady within the kingdom, was holed up in a nunnery, going blind, when she fell in love with Rely Alan, the creator of the citadel and probably the most highly effective man within the north. She left her nunnery for him, and co-habitated with him for maybe 20 years, after which when he died, she moved onto his brother, who was additionally known as Alan.
“I imagine that Gunhilda was maybe not solely a lovely orphan princess in peril, however she was additionally very resourceful, enjoying her hand exceptionally properly,” says Colin Grant, of Richmond Civic Society, in response to our article a fortnight in the past concerning the historical past of the citadel and the occasions which is able to have a good time its anniversary when the pandemic lifts.
“I hope that throughout the many thrilling actions and enjoyable deliberate for later within the 12 months, Gunhilda might be elevated from the sidelines of historical past and might obtain some recognition, alongside Rely Alan, within the 950th celebrations.”
Gunhilda’s father was Harold who, after all, was the final Anglo-Saxon king of England. He was shot within the eye on the Battle of Hastings in 1066, and his defeat allowed the Duke of Normandy, who was generally known as William the Bastard, to turn out to be William the Conqueror.
Earlier than William might totally have claimed to have conquered England, he wanted proof that Harold was useless, and so one in all Harold’s mistresses was known as in to determine the physique. This mistress is believed to have been Edith Swanneck – often known as Edgiva the Truthful – who was not solely the nation’s most stunning lady but additionally its wealthiest, as she owned a lot of East Anglia.
Edith is claimed to have recognized Harold’s physique by a “non-public mark” – maybe a tattoo over his coronary heart that learn “Edith and England”.
It was factor the tattoo was over his coronary heart as there was not a lot else left of him, poor fellow: he’d misplaced an arm, half a leg, had one eye gouged out and the opposite had a unclean nice arrow protruding from it.
Edith and Harold had no less than 5 youngsters, one in all whom was Gunhilda.
“After the turmoil of 1066, her mom despatched Gunhilda to Wilton Abbey, close to Salisbury, for her personal security and to be schooled by the nuns,” says Colin. “Edgiva died someday after 1066, so Gunhilda, with each her mom and father useless, was on the mercy of the Normans. A nun’s behavior would have been excellent to disguise her identification.”
Certainly, because the daughter of the useless Anglo-Saxon king, the Normans may need checked out Gunhilda in the way in which that Vladimir Putin seems to be at a rival politician. Gunhilda was in her late teenagers and had inherited her mom’s beauty, and she or he might turn out to be a focus for the opposition to the invaders.
However, within the sanctuary of the nunnery, she was protected from any makes an attempt to get rid of her, though she did start to go blind till she was visited by St Wulfstan, the Bishop of Worcester, who was the final surviving pre-Conquest bishop.
“He thought he owed it to her father’s reminiscence to assist her, so he made the signal of the cross earlier than her eyes and her sight was restored,” says Colin.
Her mom’s estates and nice wealth couldn’t so simply be restored. William the Conqueror had seized Edith’s lands and handed it out to his favourites, together with Rely Alan, who had led the Breton military into battle. Alan, who had purple hair and so was generally known as “Rufus”, was given elements of East Anglia and land between Ure and Tees in North Yorkshire, primarily based on the village of Gilling West.
From Gilling West, Alan deliberate to construct an enormous citadel on a splendid hill – a “riche mont”, in his French tongue – to point out the natives how they’d been conquered by a mighty energy.
But when Gunhilda might in some way hook-up with Rely Alan she might get her arms on what had been her mom’s.
“Gunhilda’s relationship with Rely Alan might have began with love at first sight on a go to to the nunnery by him, or it might have been a particularly shrewd transfer by her,” says Colin. “The connection not solely enabled her to legitimise her declare to her mom’s appreciable inheritance and, by forming a liaison with a wealthy Norman nobleman, it additionally eliminated the Normans’ concern that she could be a menace to them.”
So Gunhilda had skilled the complete gamut of feelings: her father killed, her mom useless and dispossessed, her sight in peril, her life in peril. However she turned it throughout: her sight was saved by the bishop, and her security was assured by the rely, in addition to her way of life – Alan was in all probability one of many wealthiest folks ever to stay in Britain.
To cement their relationship, a daughter, Matilda, was born in 1073, two years after Rely Alan had began constructing his citadel at Richmond.
For 20 years, Gunhilda loved stability till in 1093, Alan died, aged about 53, and the citadel handed to his brother, additionally known as Alan however as he had black hair, he was generally known as “Niger”.
As soon as once more, Gunhilda had to consider methods to safe her future. The Archbishop of Canterbury informed her that she was a lapsed nun, that she wanted to cleanse her coronary heart and discover security as soon as extra within the arms of the Lord.
However there was a much more thrilling various…
“Gunhilda ignored the Archbishop’s recommendation and developed her relationship with, and sought the safety of, Alan the Black,” says Colin.
Gunhilda appears to have lived just a few extra years within the safety of Alan the Black, however was in all probability useless earlier than he died in 1098 when the citadel was handed on to a 3rd brother, Stephen, Rely of Tréguier. Hers is a curious story, from a really totally different time, however regardless of being born on the defeated Anglo-Saxon aspect she managed to outlive and certainly prosper within the Norman period as Richmond citadel started its rise on its stronghold above the Swale.