• Heather J. Tanner
  • Laura L. Gathagan
  • Lois L. Huneycutt
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The introduction offers a contextualization of the essays within the volume by a careful, selective analysis of the last thirty years of scholarship on elite women. In providing a rationale for the book, it touches on the foundational works in the field, tracing the trajectory of the study of women and power while questioning long-held assumptions of historians. Among the historiographical issues problematized here are the divide between private and public spheres, the conventional definitions of “hard” power and “soft” power, the preferencing of patrilineage and primogeniture as inheritance structures, and modern suppositions about medieval governance. This section also briefly examines primary sources such as writs, charters, and letters, as evidence of the “background noise” of theoretical misogyny that, while seemingly pervasive, was regularly ignored. The introduction closes with a synopsis of the volume’s essays, demonstrating the internal logic of the collection and new approaches to study medieval elite women.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather J. Tanner
    • 1
  • Laura L. Gathagan
    • 2
  • Lois L. Huneycutt
    • 3
  1. 1.The Ohio State UniversityMansfieldUSA
  2. 2.SUNYCortlandUSA
  3. 3.University of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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