Medieval Queenship

Within the last ten years, there as been a small but growing body of scholarship devoted to exploring the role of the medieval queen within the court and in the kingdom at large. Historians agree that in the period until about 1050 the queen was often a central figure in royal administration. The very titles of early medieval officers of state – chamberlain, butler, and steward – provide evidence of the close relationship between the state and the royal household. In an age when the public and private realms were nearly synonomous, the queen's household role gave her surprising power in what we now see as governmental affairs. Charlemagne, in his Capitulaire de villis, naturally included the queen among his royal officials when he commanded 'we wish that anything ordered by us or our queen... or the ministers, seneshals or cupbearer... be executed to the final word.' Later, during the reign of Charles the Bald, Hincmar of Reims penned a treatise on the workings of the palace. He writes that the queen should have control of the royal treasury because the king was too busy to be burdened with 'domestic trifles'.

Want the full article and website archive access?

Subscribe now

Already a member? Log in now


The History Today Newsletter

Sign up for our free weekly email