Making a Name for Herself: The Empress Matilda and the Construction of Female Lordship in Twelfth-Century England

  • Charles Beem
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


The first manifestation of female kingly sovereignty in English history occurred during the climax of the career of the empress Matilda, who pursued a sustained but ultimately unsuccessful bid to gain the English throne during the years 1139 to 1148. Matilda enjoyed a brief moment of glory, but as the preceding quote illustrates, one that caused contemporaries to both marvel at and condemn her exercise of kingly sovereignty. This chapter is concerned with how Matilda manipulated and transgressed the gendered distinctions existing between men and women in twelfth-century England, in her attempt to create a singular and viable public identity as a woman possessing the sovereignty of kingship.


Twelfth Century Eleventh Century English History Male Heir Political Weapon 
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© Charles Beem 2008

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  • Charles Beem

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