© 2018

Premodern Rulers and Postmodern Viewers

Gender, Sex, and Power in Popular Culture

  • Janice North
  • Karl C. Alvestad
  • Elena Woodacre

Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Janice North, Elena Woodacre, Karl C. Alvestad
    Pages 1-19
  3. Reappraising Female Rulers in the Light of Modern Feminism(s)

  4. Questions of Adaptation: Bringing Premodern Queens to the Page and Screen

  5. Undermining Authority: Rulers with Conflicted Gender and Sexual Identities

About this book


Pop culture portrayals of medieval and early modern monarchs are rife with tension between authenticity and modern mores, producing anachronisms such as a feminist Queen Isabel (in RTVE’s Isabel) and a lesbian Queen Christina (in The Girl King). This book examines these anachronisms as a dialogue between premodern and postmodern ideas about gender and sexuality, raising questions of intertemporality, the interpretation of history, and the dangers of presentism. Covering a range of famous and lesser-known European monarchs on screen, from Elizabeth I to Muhammad XII of Granada, this book addresses how the lives of powerful women and men have been mythologized in order to appeal to today’s audiences. The contributors interrogate exactly what is at stake in these portrayals; namely, our understanding of premodern rulers, the gender and sexual ideologies they navigated, and those that we navigate today. 


Medievalism Women's history presentism medieval film and television premodern rulers in popular culture early modern queenship Empress Matilda Isabella of Angoulême medievalism and feminist ideology gender in The White Queen Juana I Queen Christina Elizabeth I in film Muhammad XI Olaf II Haraldsson

Editors and affiliations

  • Janice North
    • 1
  • Karl C. Alvestad
    • 2
  • Elena Woodacre
    • 3
  1. 1.AltoonaUSA
  2. 2.Department of HistoryUniversity of WinchesterWinchesterUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.Department of HistoryUniversity of WinchesterWinchesterUnited Kingdom

About the editors

Janice North is an independent scholar and specialist in medieval and Golden Age Iberian literature.

Karl C. Alvestad is Lecturer in History at the University of Winchester, UK. 

Elena Woodacre is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History at the University of Winchester, UK. 

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Premodern Rulers and Postmodern Viewers
  • Book Subtitle Gender, Sex, and Power in Popular Culture
  • Editors Janice North
    Karl C. Alvestad
    Elena Woodacre
  • Series Title Queenship and Power
  • Series Abbreviated Title Queenship and Power
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages History History (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-68770-4
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-88656-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-68771-1
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 351
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 12 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Early Modern Europe
    History of Medieval Europe
    Gender and Sexuality
    Cultural History
    Film History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Premodern Rulers and Postmodern Viewers is a timely and important collection of essays. Throughout the book, its authors deliver a wide range of essays and methodologies (including transmedia, fandom, feminism, and visual culture); the resulting book offers thoughtful, insightful, and much-needed analysis of premodern women in modern representations. This will be an excellent book for both students and their teachers, offering both rigorous, cutting-edge scholarship as well as critical analysis which fills an important gap in existing scholarship.” (Andrew Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Lincoln, UK)

“This original and innovative collection of essays sheds new light on enduring questions and on the relationship between media and the history of queenship.” (Núria Silleras-Fernández, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA)