Reigning Queens in Medieval Europe: When, Where, and Why

  • Armin Wolf


Europe still has seven monarchies. Today four of them have kings and three have reigning queens: the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But what of reigning queens in medieval Europe? Reigning queens are distinct from queens-consort, whose rights as the wife of a king are based on marriage while the rights of a reigning queen depend upon birth. Here I shall not consider consorts, no matter how much de facto influence they might have had; I also exclude queens who governed a kingdom temporarily as regents for their minor sons or absent husbands. Such cases happened fairly often and are examples of effective government by women. These regents would be a very good topic for another study,1 but this chapter is restricted to queens who reigned in their own right, although I shall include cases of failed claims to queenship. Such failures will help to answer the question with which my chapter begins: Reigning queens: when, where, and why?


Female Line Female Succession Male Cousin Royal Title Forced Resignation 
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© Armin Wolf 1986

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  • Armin Wolf

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