© 2019

Medieval Elite Women and the Exercise of Power, 1100–1400

Moving beyond the Exceptionalist Debate

  • Heather J. Tanner


  • Reconceptualizes the categories, definitions, practice, and periodization of women’s exercise of power

  • Examines women in positions of both secular and religious authority

  • Offers a variety of case studies that cover women’s patronage of art and literature, the role of women in establishing dynasties, the impact of bureaucracy, and the influence of female religious communities, among other topics


Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Heather J. Tanner, Laura L. Gathagan, Lois L. Huneycutt
    Pages 1-18
  3. Charlotte Cartwright
    Pages 91-111
  4. Theresa Earenfight
    Pages 271-293
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 295-310

About this book


For decades, medieval scholarship has been dominated by the paradigm that women who wielded power after c. 1100 were exceptions to the “rule” of female exclusion from governance and the public sphere. This collection makes a powerful case for a new paradigm. Building on the premise that elite women in positions of authority were expected, accepted, and routine, these essays traverse the cities and kingdoms of France, England, Germany, Portugal, and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in order to illuminate women’s roles in medieval power structures. Without losing sight of the predominance of patriarchy and misogyny, contributors lay the groundwork for the acceptance of female public authority as normal in medieval society, fostering a new framework for understanding medieval elite women and power.


Medieval Women Ann McNamara Suzanne Wemple primogeniture central Middle Ages monarchy lordship queenship Royal women Medieval queens Viragos Queen Anne Emma of Ivry Countess Ermengard of Brittany Constance of Antioch Isabella de Clare female religious communities Salian queens Catherine of Aragon

Editors and affiliations

  • Heather J. Tanner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

About the editors

Heather J. Tanner is Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University, USA. She is the author of Families, Friends and Allies: Boulogne and Politics in Northern France and England c. 879–1160.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Medieval Elite Women and the Exercise of Power, 1100–1400
  • Book Subtitle Moving beyond the Exceptionalist Debate
  • Editors Heather J. Tanner
  • Series Title The New Middle Ages
  • Series Abbreviated Title The New Middle Ages
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-01345-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-01346-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVII, 310
  • Number of Illustrations 3 b/w illustrations, 3 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Medieval Europe
    History of Early Modern Europe
    Women's Studies
    Medieval Literature
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