© 2017

Anna of Denmark and Henrietta Maria

Virgins, Witches, and Catholic Queens

  • Employs a unique comparative approach to trace representations of queenship from the Jacobean through the Caroline periods

  • Challenges misogynistic readings of the early Stuart queens and their political and artistic activities

  • Appeals to scholars of queenship studies, gender studies, early modern drama, and the Jacobean and Caroline periods


Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)

About this book


This book examines how early Stuart queens navigated their roles as political players and artistic patrons in a culture deeply conflicted about the legitimacy of female authority. Anna of Denmark and Henrietta Maria both employed powerful female archetypes such as Amazons and the Virgin Mary in court performances. Susan Dunn-Hensley analyzes how darker images of usurping, contaminating women, epitomized by the witch, often merged with these celebratory depictions. By tracing these competing representations through the Jacobean and Caroline periods, Dunn-Hensley peels back layers of misogyny from historical scholarship and points to rich new lines of inquiry. Few have written about Anna’s religious beliefs, and comparing her Catholicism with Henrietta Maria’s illuminates the ways in which both women were politically subversive. This book offers an important corrective to centuries of negative representation, and contributes to a fuller understanding of the role of queenship in the English Civil War and the fall of the Stuart monarchy. 


Anna of Denmark Henrietta Maria Early Stuart England early Stuarts early Stuart Queens Jacobean Period Caroline Period fall of Stuart Monarchy Catholic queens early modern drama early modern masques

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Wheaton CollegeWheatonUSA

About the authors

Susan Dunn-Hensley is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Wheaton College, USA. Her essays on queenship and the sacred feminine appear in “High and Mighty Queens” of Early Modern England (Palgrave 2003) and in Walsingham in Literature and Culture from the Middle Ages to Modernity (2010).

Bibliographic information


“Anna of Denmark and Henrietta Maria combines careful research and fresh, accessible prose with an original comparative approach—in positioning these two queens side by side, this study yields numerous rich insights, illuminating more than any separate study could. Susan Dunn-Hensley examines the ways in which the two queens yielded power, and contextualizes the political, religious, and cultural challenges they faced. The result is an essential remedy to powerful narratives of these women as irrational, impractical, and unruly, which have influenced even recent scholarship.” (Jo Carney, Professor of English, The College of New Jersey, USA)