Brihtric Meaw - Snaw

Tewkesbury Abbey
Tewkesbury Abbey - Photo ©
Philip Halling
, September 2006

Brihtric, the son of Algar lord of Gloucester, sumamed Meaw (Snow), from the extreme fairness of his complexion, born about 1030, was an Anglo-Saxon thegn and possessor of large domains in England. He had been sent on an embassy from King Edward the Confessor to the Count of Flanders. Matilda fell desperately in love with him, and offered herself to him in marriage! Disgusted by her forwardness, he declined the flattering proposal and she kept her wrath warm till she was in a position to ruin the man she had so passionately loved.

'Who, when she was maiden,
Loved a count of England,
Brihtric Mau he was named,
Except the king was no richer man.
To him the virgin sent a messenger,
His love for her to obtain:
But Brihtric refused Maude.'


She had no sooner become the Queen of England than she induced William to confiscate, on some pretence, all Brihtric's estates, and obtained the greater proportion for herself and the remainder of his holdings passed to Fitz Hamon. The unfortunate Brihtric was arrested at his house at Hanley, in Worcestershire, on the very day Saint Wulfstan had consecrated a chapel of his building, dragged to Winchester, and died in a dungeon!

Thus, then, does it appear that Matilda, after having enjoyed for fourteen years the greatest happiness as a wife and mother, had secretly brooded over the bitter memory of the slight that had been offered to her in early youth, for the purpose of inflicting the deadliest vengeance in return on the man who had rejected the love she had once condescended to offer. It is confirmed by the records of the Domesday-book, that Avening, Tewkesbury, Fairford, Thornbury, Whitenhurst, Nailsworth and various other possessions in Gloucestershire, belonging to Brihtric, were granted to Matilda.

Matilda, moreover, deprived Gloucester of its charter and civic liberties, merely because it was the city of the unfortunate Brihtric.

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