A global lockdown is not enough to stop Rex Factor! For the first time, we do a full episode via Skype, meaning Ali is in charge of his own recording equipment! After a slightly chaotic first ten minutes, we have an extended Correspondents Corner with lots of messages from listeners and then previews of some of our bonus content with a clip from our most recent Privy Chamber episode (on Matilda of Flanders) and our most recent special episode (Chateau Gaillard). Normal service will resume next time when we review Matilda of Scotland.
We leave the Saxons behind and enter the Norman era. Matilda of Flanders was the first of the Norman consorts, bringing some prestigious French royal genes to the illegitimate William the Conqueror. Matilda was a trusted partner of William in Normandy and enjoyed great status as Queen of England after 1066. Revered for her piety, Matilda also had an independent streak and would clash with William when their eldest son, Robert, rebelled. Who will come out on top? And will Matilda start the new era off with the Rex Factor?
We're not reviewing a person in this special episode but a castle - Chateau Gaillard in Normandy, built by Richard the Lionheart in 1196. The most advanced castle of the age, Ali is in his happy place as we explore why Richard decided to build it and what makes the castle so special. It was also the subject of a dramatic siege as Philip Augustus of France tried to capture the supposedly impregnable castle from King John of England, while later finding itself dragged into a royal scandal and (in a way) Scotland!
Ealdgyth of Mercia is not a famous name, but her episode is full of Rex Factors. As consort to Harold Godwinson, she was the last Anglo-Saxon consort and her story has plenty to fascinate: Lady Godiva, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn and a Welsh/Mercian alliance, and of course the dramatic events of 1066. So will the Saxons go out on a high or is Ealdgyth another queen who will remain lost to history?
With Edith of Wessex we come to the dramatic events of 1066 and the fall of the Anglo-Saxons. Edith was the daughter of the powerful earldoman, Godwin, sister to Harold Godwinson and queen consort to Edward the Confessor. Things got off to a shaky start with Edward, but Edith was able to establish herself as a powerful figure at court and tried to position herself for the succession. But when 1066 throws everything into chaos, will Edith be able to ride out the storm?
When is a consort not a consort? When she's Ælfgifu of Northampton! Ælfgifu was married to Cnut while he was king but it was his other wife, Emma of Normandy, who was considered the consort. We decide to take a look at events from Ælfgifu's perspective, revealing a remarkable woman who was for a long time Emma's chief rival, with her dramatic life taking her from a powerful midlands dynasty all across Cnut's North Sea Empire and back again in a battle for dominance. But does she count as a consort and does she deserve the Rex Factor?
Emma takes us from the dark days of Vikings invasions under Æthelred the Unready to the threshold of 1066. Her remarkable and dramatic life saw her twice be Queen Consort, Queen Stepmother and Queen Mother! Emma was often forced to fight to retain her power as England veered between Saxon and Danish rule, but would she do enough to come out on top and gain the Rex Factor?
We're back with the Saxons this week, reviewing Ealdgyth, consort to Edmund Ironside. Ealdgyth was from a prominent midlands family who fell out with King Æthelred the Unready in the difficult period of Viking invasions. We find out how these family links drove her into both danger and power amidst Saxon division and Viking invaders and decide what role she might have played in the. chaotic years of 1013-16.
We take a brief diversion from the Saxons to investigate the Viking consort of Sweyn Forkbeard, Sigrid the Haughty. Or is it? There is much debate about the true identity of Sweyn's wife (or wives) and whether Sigrid even existed at all as much of what we know of her comes from the Icelandic sagas. To help us unpack all of this and learn more about the sagas, we are joined by John and Andy from the Saga Thing podcast. Was Sigrid really Sweyn's wife? Did she really exist? And, most important of all, does she have the Rex Factor?
Saga Thing is a podcast reviewing all the sagas of the Icelanders which you can find here https://sagathingpodcast.wordpress.com
John Churchill is arguably Britain's greatest ever general but there was much more to his life than that. Born a year after the execution of Charles I, he started his career at the hedonistic court of Charles II, was a key figure in the Glorious Revolution, dabbled with the Jacobite cause and was not only the commander of Queen Anne's army but also one of the key figures in her government for most of the reign. We look at his life as a whole as well as famous victories such as the Battle of Blenheim.