Queen’s gold, an ancient tax on fines payable to the king, formed an important part of the medieval queen’s revenues and her rights, but evidence is often scarce and scattered. However, a number of writs in the National Archives offer the chance to analyse the demands for queen’s gold in a short period under the 14th-century queen Philippa of Hainault, the wife of Edward III, in terms of those liable and the difficulties involved with extracting payment. This paper will also consider the origins and limits of queen’s gold, and its role in queenly power and agency.
After the 14th-century plague pandemic created a chasmic shift in gender dynamics, the patriarchal reliance on a dominant masculinity created a counter-pressure against the equalizing rupture. In the 15th century, Western European masculinity reasserted itself through a series of antifeminist movements that combated the difficulties of the ‘new’ women (Aronstein 7). Victorian antiquarian John Pinkerton connected this phenomenon to a 15th-century Scottish queen, Mary of Guelders, claiming that her predominantly male court and counsel, ‘while awed by her authority, despised her sway as that of a woman’ (252). In this paper, I propose to link Robert Henryson’s Testament of Cresseid to antifeminist responses to Mary of Guelders, a link that helps expose the historical and ideological roots of Henryson’s vicious revision of Chaucer’s complex heroine.
St. Æthelthryth played a starring role in the 12th-century Liber Eliensis as the monastery of Ely’s glorious patron saint. Although the chronicle characterized St. Æthelthryth and her activities in ways typical of patron saints in the period, her virginal state added a significant dimension of vulnerability that can be clearly detected. This paper will argue that posthumous threats to the saint’s chastity were described in the Liber Eliensis in order to emphasize the monastery’s vulnerability at particular points of acute crisis in its history. St. Æthelthryth’s role in the Liber Eliensis demonstrates how patron saints literally embodied their monastic communities as they faced, and remembered, almost insurmountable challenges in their histories.
Although Boccaccio’s Il Filostrato would seem to have guaranteed the character Criseida an enduring reputation as an iconic unfaithful widow, the text’s female readers have found room in it for a subtle counter-narrative. This paper will focus on a manuscript of the Roman de Troyle (Il Filostrato‘s first French translation) commissioned by Marie de Clèves, the wife and then widow of Charles d’Orléans. Marie, out of evident admiration for her mother-in-law, the famous widow Valentina Visconti, adopted her device and motto (‘Rien ne m’est plus’) as her own. This paper proposes that the illumination program Marie commissioned, and the prominence of her mournful motto, permitted her to resist the story’s handling of widowhood.