Jennifer Ott is the author of her current work in process, Wolf Wild Heart, the story of Medieval Queen - Anne of Kiev
Lesson in Love from a Medieval Queen
For most of my life, my greatest interest has been the subject of love. Even so much, I was turned down for a Masters study program because as I have been told, “Love and caring is not a scholarly curriculum.” I have always asserted it should be. However, I have found fiction and the art of story telling to be way to study love in all its aspects.
Throughout my life, I have written many books and screenplays with various love stories – passionate lovers to the lonely and desperate., from romantic love to the love of the planet and humanity, and yet, it took my latest main character to give me the greatest lesson of love and that is Anne of Kiev.
When I set out to write the book Wolf Wild Heart, I anticipated writing a book about the love between King and Queen and their empowered marriage. This was not the story Anne of Kiev wanted me to tell. As I grew blocked as a writer, trying to force her story, she opened up her tale of love.
Anne of Kiev wished to tell an all-encompassing love story which defied politics and religion. Regardless of being a queen during the height of patriarchy, she stayed true to her love convictions.
To understand Anne of Kiev and her story is to start with her father, Yarolsav the Wise. Anna was said to be close to her father, and some sources claim she was his favorite among all his children. His fatherly devotion and the education he provided her resulted in a young woman who had confidence and strength of heart. This would serve her well when betrothed to King Henry 1st of France.
Imagine being a young woman sent away from home to marry a man twenty years her senior and a man she had never met, wondering if she would ever see her beloved father again or even her home Kiev. This must have been a terrifying experience as she took the slow journey by carriage to France.
Regardless of our circumstances, we can choose love. We can find something to love in most all people, whether or not they ignite our romantic fire. While Henry 1st of France proved himself easy to love and an empowering King, Anne of Kiev discovered passion in another man – Count Raoul de Valois.
Anne of Kiev found herself in the precarious situation of loving two men – one her husband, the King and the other the King’s noble. A love affair would risk her life as well as the life her of her lover. It was simply out of the question.
So, the question, is it possible to love two people, or even more? The answer is yes, yes but differently.
Love is not a singular devotion. It is not an energy that is woven with inclusivity, but love is as the air breathes exclusivity. When we truly love, we love all, not a select few. What I am referring to here, is not “free love” in the sense of physical intimacy, but in free love...love. Just love. We love and care for another.
In writing, Wolf Wild Heart, I learned of Anne of Kiev’s marriage to Henry 1st of France, yet her, let’s call it, admiration for Count Raoul de Valois. It’s hard to hide the love within our heart when so many want to wear it on their sleeve, and so it must have been difficult for a young woman betrothed to a king, crushing on a noble.
To Anne of Kiev’s credit, she not only remained loyal to Henry, their marriage is marked as a Medieval success story and even a love story. Despite her expanding heart and simmer passions, she stayed true to Henry and Henry elevated her by giving her a place and a voice in his court. Not all love stories relay tales of passion, but stories of steadiness and empowerment, loyalty over lust. This in itself can be seen as a great love.
However, falling in love is the most sublime feeling in life. Nothing…nothing really compares. While the desire of this love is so powerful, if true, many will sacrifice for the sake and the safety of their lover. In true love, we want the best for the other and not succumb to our lustful desire.
According to all historical research, Anne of Kiev and Raoul de Valois had admiration for one another, and yet did not engage in any romantic liaison until Henry passed away. They remained loyal to Henry and true to love itself, only coming together when free to do so. Eventually, their love defied the French crown and even the Catholic clergy. The power of their love conquered all except death.
Anne of Kiev not only had a first husband, in which by all historical accounts she was loyal, but a lover in her second husband. We can’t forget her children, especially her son, the future King Philip (the Amorous). What lessons would such a woman teach a son about love?
Love is devout loyalty. When one cares for another would not to bring heartache into their life. They would stand beside one against all adversity.
We can chalk Anne of Kiev’s story up to Medieval chivalry, which we may not be able to relate in modern times, and yet the lesson here is this: When we open our hearts to love, we open it up to love all with no bias. We honor love and we respect the power of passion – something not to enter into lightly.
Surprisingly, when it comes to love, we live in precarious times. We fear giving another an embrace, believing the other could take it the wrong way. We are timid of offering compliments, fearing we will be rejected. Today, many are afraid to express love, as it could result in either rejection or a crime.
So, what can we take away from Anne of Kiev’s story?
Love is love and we can’t approach it with expectation. We can’t expect others to return our affection. We can’t expect others to love us the same way we love them. However, if we love…if we truly love, we can demonstrate it with a smile and simple kindness. We can show it with honor and respect and have the faith…the faith in love…that others will return in kind.