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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

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

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