France’s Kyivan Queen

Anne of Kyiv married Henry I, king of the Franks, on 19 May 1051.

Mural depicting the daughters of Yaroslav the Wise, Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv. Anne is possibly the figure second from left. Wikimedia Commons.

Ukraine has been part of European history since before the Norman Conquest. Remarkably, in the middle of the 11th century, the queens of Norway, Hungary, France and Poland were all Kyivan Rus princesses. The first three were daughters of Yaroslav, Grand Prince of Kyiv and Ingegerd Olofsdotter of Sweden. The fourth was his sister, Maria.

Too little is known about these women, although Elisabeth, sometime queen to Harald Hardrada of Norway – the Norwegians called her Ellisif – makes fleeting appearances in some of the saga literature.

The best documented is Anne of Kyiv, queen to Henry I, king of the Franks. They married on 19 May 1051, following a lengthy Frankish diplomatic mission to the Kyivan Rus. Their son, Philip I, was born the following year. It was probably Anne who introduced the Greek name Philip to the west. 

When Henry died in 1060, with Philip aged eight, Anne emerged as a powerful figure, certainly acting as a de facto guardian to the young king in the first two years and possibly sharing the crown with him. 

Like her sisters and aunt, Anne would die a long way from her homeland, part of a little known generation of royal Kyivan women establishing bonds of blood across mainland Europe.