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Sue Cameron on Emma of Normandy

Episode 7 of 9

Whitehall journalist Sue Cameron chooses William the Conqueror's aunt, Emma of Normandy. With Matthew Parris. From 2017.

Twice Queen of England and mother of two kings, but have you heard of Emma of Normandy?

Doyenne of Whitehall and Westminster journalists, Sue Cameron names William the Conqueror's aunt as her great life.

Matthew Parris explores the time 1,000 years ago when England was emerging as a new nation in the decades before the Norman invasion, when the country's Anglo Saxon rulers were beset with Viking invasions. Emma, herself of French Viking descent, was pitched into a maelstrom of war and politics, when she crossed the channel as a teenage bride in 1002.

Joined by medieval historian Vanessa King of Goldsmiths, University of London, Sue and Matthew conjure the fortunes of a woman who emerged as a key powerbroker and kingmaker. Emma bestrode early English court politics for half a century during her life, and for years afterwards. Married first to Aethelred, the Saxon king, she was promptly summoned to marry his successor after his death in 1016, the Danish king of England, Canute, who's alleged to have ordered the waves to cease.

Sue Cameron imagines what it must have been like for Emma in the midst of these turbulent times, trying to protect the sons she had with both kings, while advancing their position at court.

Producer: Mark Smalley

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May 2017.

Available now

30 minutes


Role Contributor
Presenter Matthew Parris
Interviewed Guest Sue Cameron
Interviewed Guest Vanessa King
Producer Mark Smalley


  • Tue 16 May 2017 16:30
  • Fri 19 May 2017 23:00
  • Thu 23 Sep 2021 18:30
  • Fri 24 Sep 2021 00:30
  • Sat 25 Sep 2021 07:30
  • Sat 25 Sep 2021 17:30
  • Sun 26 Sep 2021 05:30

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