Queenship in Medieval Europe

Written by Theresa Earenfight
Review by Marina Oliver

A survey of how queens acquired and used power and influence, and the changing nature of queenship is a topic needing more than one volume to do it justice. The author has created a synthesis of existing research, quoting from many essays and monographs and some primary sources (Notes occupy 30 pages; further reading and bibliography, 46 pages.)

The limited number of examples leads to oversimplification, a confused chronology, much repetition, supposition and assumption, plus unsupported and controversial statements. A few statements I checked made me suspicious of the general accuracy:
p. 9, Vatican City is a contemporary ‘monarchy’?
p. 217, Edward V ‘was crowned immediately.’ He was initially accepted as king, but there was no coronation.
Did Richard III ‘usurp’ the throne? Many scholars would disagree, yet it is stated as fact.
p. 218, Henry Tudor and Elizabeth of York were ‘closely related’, as Edward III was ‘a common ancestor.’ Edward was seven generations back from Elizabeth, five from Henry.

I would have preferred less generalisation and more queens than the few well-known ones featured in support of the author’s interpretation.