Queen Cordelia
Queen Cordelia was a legendary Queen of the Britons, as recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a cleric and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography and the popularity of tales of King Arthur...

. She was the youngest daughter of Leir
Leir of Britain
Leir is a legendary ancient king of the Britons, as recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth. His story is told in a modified form by William Shakespeare in the play King Lear. In the drama, some names are identical to those of the legend Leir is a legendary ancient king of the Britons, as recounted by...

 and the second ruling queen of pre-Roman Britain
British Iron Age
The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron-Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ireland, and which had an independent Iron Age culture of...

. There is no independent historical evidence for her existence.

Cordelia was Leir's favourite daughter, being the younger sister to Goneril and Regan. When Leir decided to divide his kingdom between his daughters and their husbands, Cordelia refused to flatter him. In response, Leir refused her any land in Britain or the blessing of any husband. Regardless, Aganippus, the King of the Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, courted her and Leir granted the marriage but denied him any dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

. She moved to Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and lived there for many years.

Leir was eventually exiled from Britain and fled to Cordelia in Gaul, seeking a restoration of his throne which had been seized by his other daughters' husbands. She raised an army and invaded Britain, defeating the ruling dukes and restoring Leir. After Leir's death three years later, her husband Aganippus died and Cordelia returned to Britain and was crowned Queen.

Cordelia ruled peacefully for five years until her sisters' sons, Cunedagius
Cunedagius was a legendary king of the Britons, as recounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth. He was the son of Henwinus, Duke of Cornwall, and Regan, the daughter of King Leir....

 and Marganus
Morganus was a legendary king of the Britons as accounted by Geoffrey of Monmouth. He was the son of Maglaurus, Duke of Albany, and Goneril, the daughter of King Leir....

, came of age. The dukes of Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 and Alba
Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. It is cognate to Alba in Irish and Nalbin in Manx, the two other Goidelic Insular Celtic languages, as well as similar words in the Brythonic Insular Celtic languages of Cornish and Welsh also meaning Scotland.- Etymology :The term first appears in...

ny, respectively, they despised the rule of a woman when they claimed proper descent to rule. They raised armies and fought against Cordelia, who fought in person at numerous battles. She was eventually captured and imprisoned by her nephews. In her grief, she committed suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

. Cunedagius succeeded her in the kingship of Britain in the lands southwest of the Humber
The Humber is a large tidal estuary on the east coast of Northern England. It is formed at Trent Falls, Faxfleet, by the confluence of the tidal River Ouse and the tidal River Trent. From here to the North Sea, it forms part of the boundary between the East Riding of Yorkshire on the north bank...

. Marganus ruled the region northeast of the Humber. Civil war broke out between them soon after.

The story was used by Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 in his play King Lear
King Lear
King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

. Before Shakespeare it was also used in Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser
Edmund Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English...

's epic The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene is an incomplete English epic poem by Edmund Spenser. The first half was published in 1590, and a second installment was published in 1596. The Faerie Queene is notable for its form: it was the first work written in Spenserian stanza and is one of the longest poems in the English...

and in the anonymous play King Leir
King Leir
King Leir is an anonymous Elizabethan play about the life of the ancient Celtic king Leir of Britain. It was published in 1605 but was entered into the Stationers' Register on 15 May 1594...

. The popularity of Cordelia at this period is probably because her role as a heroic queen was comparable to Queen Elizabeth I.
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