The old debate about the "incestuous" marriage for which Eustace was
excommunicated in October 1049 has not had an airing here for at least
some years now.
As far as is known his first marriage was to Godgifu (aka Goda),
daughter of the English king Æthelred II by Emma of Normandy, and widow
of count Drogo of Mantes & Vexin who died in 1035 (by whom she had
sons). There is no evidence that Eustace had any offspring by Godgifu,
although it has been unconvincingly speculated that they had a daughter
and even more implausibly that an illegitimate son of Eustace (Geoffrey
of Carshalton) was theirs together. Godgifu was evidently born by ca
1012 and may have been older than Eustace. It is not known when she died.
His other explicitly-documented wife was the Blessed Ida (died 13 April
1113), daughter of Godfrey II the Bearded of Bouillon, duke of Upper
Lorraine, by a lady named Uoda (aka Doda) who possibly belonged to the
comital family of Toul. Ida is believed to have been born ca 1040 though
this, like the origin of her mother, is not certain.
On the last day of the council of Reims, 5 October 1049, Pope Leo IX
excommunicated two counts, named Enguerrand ("Angilrai" in the sole
account of this) and Eustace, over marriages within forbidden degrees
("propter incestum"). At the same time the pope also forbade Balduin V
of Flanders from marrying his daughter (Mathilda) to William of Normandy
and the latter from accepting her as his wife.
Historians have generally assumed that one of the consanguineous unions
causing trouble in October 1049 involved Eustace II of Boulogne, but
have been divided over whether it was his earlier marriage to Godgifu or
a recent one to Ida. The possibility that it was to another lady - whose
name is unrecorded - in an interval between these two, and that Eustace
complied with the papal directive by repudiating her soon after October
1049, is not usually taken into account. His excommunication certainly
did not last through his marriage to Ida, who outlived him by around 20
years, since he was later threatened with the same sanction over a
The other count excommunicated in 1049 was almost certainly Enguerrand
II of Ponthieu (killed 1053), who had married William of Normandy's
sister Adeliza, countess of Aumale. She subsequently (as a widow or
divorcee) married Eustace of Boulogne's brother Lambert, count of Lens,
and later Odo III of Blois, count of Champagne.
Occasionally it has been suggested that the Eustace named in October
1049 was not the count of Boulogne but rather a namesake count of
Guînes. However, this is problematic because it relies on the
late-12th/early 13th-century chronicle written by Lambert of Ardres, a
very shonky historian, where Eustace of Guînes is represented as living
in high honour after the mid-11th century but also as having grossly
bullied the heiress of a vassal before March 1004 and as having married
the daughter of a chamberlain of Flanders well before such an office is
Accepting that Eustace II of Boulogne was the count who needed a drastic
papal measure to bring an end to an illicit marriage in 1049, the
possibility of a short-lived union with an unknown lady between Godgifu
and Ida seems to me the most likely explanation.
Eustace visited England in September 1051, when he was mentioned in the
Worcester (D) version of the Anglo-Saxon chronicle as having married the
sister of Edward the Confessor, see folio 73r here
"com eustatius up æt doferan se hæfde eadƿardes cẏnges sƿeostor to ƿife"
(Eustace arrived at Dover who had King Edward's sister as wife). The
preterite verb "hæfde" suggests that the marriage was over by that time
- or at any rate by the time of writing. This information was later
repeated in the Latin chronicle ascribed to John of Worcester (formerly
to Florence of Worcester), see p. 336 here
"bononiensis comes Eustatius [senior] qui sororem EADWARDI regis Godam
nomine in coniugium habuerat paucis doruuerniam applicuit nauibus"
(Eustace [the elder] count of Boulogne who had the sister of King Edward
in marriage arrived at Canterbury with a few ships), where the verb
"habuerat" is pluperfect also suggesting the marriage was understood to
be over in contrast to "applicuit" in the perfect tense. It is not very
credible that the saintly Edward would have shown the reported favour to
his sister's ex-husband or widower in 1051 if Eustace had defied the
pope to the point of being excommunicated over the marriage in 1049.
It is even less credible that Ida of Lorraine would have been the
partner in an incestuous union causing so much trouble with the pope.
She was the child of parents whose marriage had taken place before June
1040, when her mother's donation through her husband to
Sainte-Marie-Madeleine church at Verdun was confirmed along with gifts
by others presumably made over a period of several years beforehand.
According to her Vita written in the early 1130s Ida had an elder
brother and was thoroughly educated with a glowing reputation for her
manners, conduct and beauty before Eustace sent emissaries to ask for
her hand in marriage. After consultation she was handed over by her
"parentes" and taken to Boulogne for her wedding. If this means her
mother was still living it must have taken place by 1053, although the
term "parentes" could have covered her father (who died in 1069) and
step-mother (married to him in April 1054). In any event, Ida's eldest
son was probably born in the late 1050s.
The year 1057 often given for Eustace's marriage to Ida is specious.
This comes from a forced interpretation by Jacques Malbrancq in the 17th
century of an inscription in verse that had disappeared before his time
from the collegiate church of Notre-Dame at Lens, stating that canons
had been established there "Anno milleno ter deno bis minus uno". The
plain interpretation of this is the year 1000+(3x10)-(1x2) = 1028, but
Malbrancq took it to mean 1000+((3x10)x2)-1 = 1059. He thought that Ida
had instituted the canons two years after marrying Eustace, but he
overlooked their charter dated 1070 stating that this had been done by
their predecessors, i.e. by his father Eustace I and his mother Mathilde
Ida enjoyed a very high reputation for her pious life as Eustace's wife.
She had a long friendship with St Anselm, who would hardly have praised
her as extravagantly as he did in letters to her if her marriage had
been the cause of her husband's excommunication. This sort of
contretemps is never mentioned in the voluminous documentation of her
three famous sons, Eustace III of Boulogne, Godfrey of Bouillon the
great hero of the first crusade and Balduin I, king of Jerusalem. She is
often called St Ida, but this is a slight exaggeration as she is
officially recognised only as (informally) beatified. Her commemoration
on 13 April (formerly on 14 April in some places) is noted as of local
status, especially in Boulogne and Rouen. She died as a resident of her
own foundation, Notre-Dame-la-Capelle abbey at Les Attaques in the Pas
de Calais, and was initially buried (according to her own premonition)
in Saint-Michel priory at Le Wast. In 1669 her remains were taken to
Paris, with a rib sent back to Le Wast, and after being kept safe by a
nun through the Revolution her relics went to Sainte-Trinité abbey (La
Joie Saint Benoît) at Bayeux in 1808, where she is now venerated. None
of this is at all likely to have come about for a woman whose marriage
was ever considered illicit.
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