Article

The Political Traditions of Female Rulership in Medieval Europe

Amalie Fößel

in The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe

Published in print August 2013 | ISBN: 9780199582174
Published online March 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199582174.013.030

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

The Political Traditions of Female Rulership in Medieval Europe

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  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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This article sketches the political traditions of female rulership in medieval Europe. A brief introduction containing preliminary remarks on the history of research is followed by overviews of perceptions of gender and power and of the construction of queens as wives, mothers, and rulers. Coronation orders conceived of queenship with reference to biblical women and formulated a concept of participation in royal rulership that persisted through the high Middle Ages. The article then turns to differing traditions of political practice. Women could exercise political power through different functions and in diverse ways: as wives, as regents, or as reigning queens legitimated through inheritance and ruling in their own right. The mechanisms and strategies for obtaining and exercising power are illustrated by a few selected examples.

Keywords: female rulership; queen consort; reigning queen; coronation orders; female elite; empress; queenship; regency; royal succession; inheritance

Article.  8184 words. 

Subjects: History ; Gender and Sexuality ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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