[Image from the Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, 14th century]
[Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Her birth date is uncertain, as is the identity of her mother. Her father was Robert I of France, but which of his wives, Aelis of Maine or Béatrice of Vermandois, was her mother remains under debate. She married Duke Rudolph of Burgundy in 921 or thereabouts. The couple had a son named Louis and possibly a daughter named Judith.
In July 923 her husband was elected and crowned King of West Francia. This was in large part due to the support of Emma’s brother Hugh the Great, and it has been implied that it was due to his sister’s influence. A few months later, Emma had herself crowned and consecrated as well,** making her the first Frankish queen that we know to have been officially crowned. There were several attempts on the part of the Vermandois family to restore the Carolingian Charles the Simple to the throne, but Emma and Rudolph squashed them all.
Emma took a very active military role on several occasions. In 927, she managed the defense of Laon, a key city in defending the couple’s hold on the realm, and led military offensives from there. She refused to leave the city when Rudolph surrendered to Herbert of Vermandois and agreed to give the city to him. Despite this, Emma held onto Laon until papal intervention forced her out. Four years later she captured the city of Avalon and two years after that in 933 she led the siege of Château Thierry, which then surrendered to her, not to Rudolph.
Emma remained a very active queen up until her death in November of 934, when she was in the middle of helping her husband put down the revolts of some of his vassals.
*Which was nonexistent since she died before her husband.
**I want to emphasize this: she had herself crowned. This was her own idea and on her own initiative, not her husband’s.
Stafford, Pauline. Queens, Concubines, and Dowagers: the King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1983.
Emma of France - Medieval Lands (Charles Cawley)
Rudolph of Burgundy - Medieval Lands (Charles Cawley)
Emma of France - Wikipedia
Rudolph of Burgundy (Emma's husband) - Wikipedia
Robert I of France (Emma's father) - Wikipedia
Béatrice of Vermandois (possibly Emma's mother) - Wikipedia
Hugh the Great (Emma's brother) - Wikipedia