Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Lauren Cengel
Title Partners in Rule: A Study of Twelfth-Century Queens of England
Department History
Advisor Amy Livingstone
Year 2012
Honors University Honors
Full Text View Thesis (1742 KB) Note: This is a very large file; it may be easier to download the file to your computer and open it from there.
Abstract Scholars have commonly assumed that the king, not the queen, was the only party able to wield significant authority in the governance of the country, and that men dominated the role of the queen in the political sphere. The queens of twelfth-century England provide a prime example of how the queen was not, in fact, powerless in the rule of her realm, but rather a significant governmental official who had the opportunity to take a complementary part in royal rule that suited her strengths. A study of the lives of queens Matilda II of Scotland (r.1100-1118), Matilda III of Boulogne (r.1135-1152), and Eleanor of Aquitaine (r.1154-1189) reveals much about what was expected from a queen in her relationship with the king in twelfth-century England, and demonstrates the changing nature of the queen's partnership with the king in rule. As the king's partner, the queen was expected to aid the king in certain aspects of rule, which included acting as the governmental head in the king's place, issuing charters and legislation, dispensing justice at court in her own right or in conjunction with the king, educating their children, patronage, and tempering the king's laws with mercy through intercession. Although the degree of partnership varied with each royal couple, evidence such as the writings of twelfth-century chroniclers, charters, and seals show that partnership of rule was expected of the relationship between king and queen, with each acting to his or her strengths. The examination of the reigns of Matilda II of Scotland, Matilda III of Boulogne, and Eleanor of Aquitaine will show how these queens acted as rulers in their realms, and what factors influenced their power and authority as queens of England.

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