(Un)exceptional women: queenship and power in medieval Europe

Historian article

By Gabrielle ‘Gabby’ Storey, published 25th August 2022

How was the power of a Queen described and how far did It extend? In this article some of the most important queens of the Medieval period are examined for the authority they were able to wield.

When we think of queens, the idea that they are extraordinary women, elevated to the highest status in the land, capable of wielding substantial amounts of power, abounds. Any historians of the monarchy can point out a dozen examples of queens who struggled in their royal career to exercise power, who have been consigned to the footnotes of history as solely the wife to a king and mother of royal heirs. But the opposite notion – that queens who did not struggle to exercise power were exceptional – does not hold true. Instead, queens ruled in many different ways, and the female exercise of power was commonplace, and not exceptional...

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