Queen Emma of Normandy was not the first consecrated queen of England, but she was the first to emerge from her husband’s shadow and the traditional roles of queen consort and mother. Her name appears on charters and in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, but it is the Encomium Emmae Reginae that Emma had commissioned after the death of her second husband, King Cnut that provides the most insight into the office of queen during the late Anglo-Saxon time period. The work serves as a ‘how to manual’, a ‘speculum reginis’ for an 11th century queen and subsequent queens of England.
‘The office of queen-lieutenant in the medieval crown of Aragon is particularly interesting because it appears to be unique in pre-modern Europe’
The game of chess burst upon medieval western society via the sophisticated cultural and intellectual carrefour of Iberia, the place where the chess queen first attained her pre-eminent status. Both chess and queen-lieutenancy required a nuanced understanding of rules and conventions, skill and courage. This paper examines the political careers of mother and daughter, Violant of Bar and Yolande of Aragon, using the rich metaphor of chess to explore their power to circumvent and manipulate traditional socio-political norms.
The association between the body of a queen or powerful lady and the right to rule over the territory with which she is associated is evident in Chrétien de Troyes’ romances, and particularly clear in the marriage of Yvain to the widow Laudine. In this paper I shall demonstrate that, in addition to her symbolic function, Laudine embodies the chief characteristics of sovereignity which Yvain himself lacks. Primarily, these consist of: concern for her domain; public performance of sovereign duties; and the cultivation of trustworthy sources of counsel. I will use the non-romantic relationships which each spouse values highly – particularly those with Lunette and Gauvain – and we will see that Chrétien depicts sovereignty not only as the quality of worthy individuals, but the product of carefully-nurtured networks of loyalty, reciprocity and counsel-giving. One of Yvain’s chief failings is that he does not realise that, in marrying Laudine, he has not married into the position of sovereignty, but he has married sovereignty itself.