Early Germanic queenship

Macfarlane, Fiona Margaret (1982) Early Germanic queenship. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

During the period from the rise of the Merovingian dynasty in Frankia to the death of Charles the Fat and the effective end of the Carolingian Empire, each of the principal Germanic peoples, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Lombards, Ostrogoths and perhaps also Visigoths, saw, on at least one occasion, the exercise of political power by a queen. It is hoped to show that not only did all these women have in common, to a greater or lesser degree, the means they used to achieve power and the ends they pursued while in possession of it, but also that their eminence was only a development of the possibilities which were available to even these v?omen whose place in history is quite obscure. The marks of queenly status in terms of title, ceremony and regalia were not fixed throughout the period, though a certain grandeur does seem to be held in common, as does the title 'regina'. Female coronation as such, however, was a Carolingian development, and the first Anglo-Saxon queen known to have been crowned was a Carolingian princess, participant in a diplomatic marriage. Marriages for diplomatic or other political reasons, whether overt or concealed, are another feature common to all the peoples, though a personal element in the choice of bride cannot always be ruled out" Once married, queens seem always to have played a very similar role in the management of the court and the economic side of the royal household, apparently even acting as, in some measure, the keeper of their husband's treasury. Many, if not definitely all queens, also interested themselves in the cultural and religious life of the court, a few even going so far as to achieve sanctity. It is possible to assume furthermore, that a great majority of queens enjoyed, for a time at least, some measure of influence over the conduct of their husbands. In the cases of those queens who achieved real political power, generally as a kind of regent rather than in their own right, much of their power seems to come from the same roots, to be a more complete utilisation of the possibilities available to any royal wife, rather than something completely new. Ruling queens dispensed/ patronage, gathered and dispensed riches, and even on occasion led military expeditions. There was, however, nothing "feminine" about the policies they pursued, as their interest in, for example, the preservation of their own power and the power of their descendants, can be paralleled in most, if not all, of the male rulers of the period. If there were likenesses between the reasons for marriage, the status of queens, their duties and their chances for power in the various Germanic kingdoms, there were also similarities in the unfortunate ends which could befall these women. In an era when life frequently appears to have been held comparatively cheap, divorce or simple abandonment by their husbands could be the least of their problems. Despite the overall similarities between the queens of the different peoples, within the Franks themselves, the kingdom m.ost intensively studied, there appear to be some rather marked differences between the Merovingian dynasty and the Carolingians who succeeded them, particularly concerning the kind of women they married and the kind of power their queens controlled. On closer examination, however, these differences appear largely circumstantial, based, among other things, on change in the international situation and on a fortuitous series of adult successions. Over the whole period and the whole area, however, a pattern of queenship seems to be established, with particular regard to the duties expected of a queen and the opportunities presented to her.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: C P Wormald
Keywords: Medieval history
Date of Award: 1982
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1982-72028
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 13:19
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 13:19
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72028

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