Beyond the Warrior Queen

Medieval women wielded spiritual and political power in subtly effective ways. 

Female foundation: Minster Abbey in Thanet, Kent. (Brian Gibbs/Alamy)This year’s 1,100th anniversary of the death of Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, has brought some welcome attention to the story of a powerful Anglo-Saxon woman. As a political and military leader, Æthelflæd is the kind of woman modern audiences are often surprised to find recorded in early medieval history. It would be encouraging if one effect of this anniversary were an increased awareness of the many different ways in which medieval women could be influential – in roles as culturally important, though perhaps less immediately appealing to modern sensibilities, as warrior queen.

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