Book Review: Virtuous or Villainess? The Image of the Royal Mother from the Early Medieval to the Early Modern Era, eds. Carey Fleiner and Elena Woodacre

By Victoria Rasbridge

Virtuous or Villainess? The Image of the Royal Mother from the Early Medieval to the Early Modern Era, edited by Carey Fleiner and Elena Woodacre, is the second of two volumes that explore the subject of royal motherhood in Palgrave Macmillan’s Queenship and Power series.

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King George III and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in Netflix’s Bridgerton

By Amy-Jane Humphries

In 2022, Bridgerton returned to Netflix to popular acclaim. The role of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of Great Britain was once again masterfully played by Golda Rosheuvel, who expertly balances the queen’s performative frivolity with the fragility that lay at the heart of the monarchy, within the royal marriage itself. While Queen Charlotte has a prominent role in both seasons of the show, King George III, played by James Fleet, makes only fleeting yet often heart-rending appearances in the show. The relationship between George III and Queen Charlotte has long fascinated historians, and Charlotte is of enduring interest to queenship scholars. The scenes that the couple share in the show are especially significant because they are so infrequently represented on screen.

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The Queen of Canada: Dominating the Dominion or a Dated Role?

By Jessica Storoschuk

With Victoria Day (celebrated in Canada on the Monday closest to May 24, the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth) and a royal visit for the Platinum Jubilee wrapped up, the question of the monarchy in Canada is becoming increasingly prominent. Canada, with Victoria and Elizabeth II, has had a queen as sovereign for 104 years of its 155-year existence. These queens’ relationships with Canada differed greatly, and Canadians’ view of them has also changed substantially throughout the decades.

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Le sacre des reines/The sacrament of queens

By Louise Gay

Sacrare: to dedicate to a deity; to dedicate, as a curse, to a divinity. The Latin verb derives from sacer (-cra, -crum), formerly sacros, which designates what belongs to the world of the divine, opposed to what is specific to everyday human life (the profanum). The transition from one to the other takes place through rites. It also designates what cannot be touched without defiling or being defiled. (Larousse Etymological dictionary)

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Mary II and Asian luxury goods

By Amy Lim

For a few short years in the 1690s, Mary II’s Water Gallery at Hampton Court was the most sophisticated and influential interior in England. Created from a Tudor water gate on the banks of the river Thames, the queen used it as a retreat from the dust and noise of Sir Christopher Wren’s building works on the main palace.

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Book Review: Æthelflaed, The Lady of the Mercians by Tim Clarkson

By Catherine Capel

The ever-growing field of queenship has brought to light many queens and noblewomen who have been largely ignored in historical scholarship or have been misunderstood, with their narratives shrouded in stereotypes of cruelty, disillusions of power, and sexual scandal. One such royal woman who has been garnering renewed attention is Æthelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great and his wife Ealhswith, the wife of Æthelred Lord of the Mercians and most commonly known as ‘Lady of the Mercians’. Tim Clarkson’s book evaluates her life and the political and military epochs within which she lived, paying close attention to how she interacted with the world around her.

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No Reign: Mary, Queen of Scots on Screen

By Jessica Storoschuk

Mary, Queen of Scots has remained a popular historical figure in the centuries since her death and remains so to this day. She has appeared in countless television shows and feature films, both as a protagonist and as a secondary character. Despite leading Scotland in a politically turbulent period (both internally and externally), Mary Stuart is largely seen on both the large and small screen as an emotional and heedless figure, with the focus in films such as the 1971 and 2018 Mary, Queen of Scots on her romantic relationships and relatively scant attention paid to her reign save for one television show, Reign, that is typically dismissed offhandedly.

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Film Review: The Princess Diaries & The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

By Catherine Capel

The Princess Diaries, released 2001, and its follow up sequel The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, released 2004, were based upon the popular book series of the same name written by Meg Cabot. The films depict the struggles of American teenager Mia Thermopolis, portrayed by Anne Hathaway, as she grapples with her newfound identity as a princess. Her grandmother, previously queen consort and now queen regent Clarisse Renaldi, played by Julie Andrews, rules the fictional kingdom of Genovia until Mia reaches her age of majority. Clarisse plays an important role in Mia’s navigation of the complex and often turbulent realm of queenship.

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Book Review: Blanche of Castile by Lindy Grant

By Gabby Storey

The life and career of Blanche of Castile, queen of France, rivals that of her illustrious grandmother, Eleanor of Aquitaine: perhaps no surprise to Eleanor, who in 1200 selected Blanche to marry the heir to the French throne, Louis (later Louis VIII). Grant’s thorough and captivating biography of Blanche (2016) is long awaited: the last major work on her was Elie Berger’s 1895 biography Histoire de Blanche de Castille, Reine de France. Given Blanche’s long political career as consort, regent, and queen mother, her adeptness for political negotiation, and her greatness as a ruler for her son, Louis IX, it is surprising that there was such a gap between Berger’s and Grant’s works.

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Studying Medieval Queens and (In)fertility

By Emma Trivett

Being a mother was a crucial role for medieval queens, and maternity continues to be a central theme in queenship studies. Scholars of queenship have explored how queens were able to exercise authority and influence through their role as mothers and, recently, Kristen Geaman and Theresa Earenfight have drawn attention to how queens without children cultivated alternative roles to biological motherhood by acting as religious patrons and political intercessors.[1] So far, historians have only really considered royal fertility when queens failed to have children. Yet, many of the medieval queens whom we might recognise as being successful mothers also struggled with fertility problems or experienced concerns and pressure to be fertile at some point in their lives. Historians need to take into account the realities of reproduction and uncertainties around fertility when we think about queens and the expectation of motherhood for queenship. 

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