A Queen Between Two Realms: Blanca of Navarre as Sicilian Lieutenant and Navarrese Princess, 1402-1415

By Jessica Minieri

Cover Photo: Blanca’s initial on the ceiling of the Cathedral de Santa María la Real in Pamplona, Spain (Wikimedia Commons).

In 1402, Navarrese princess, Blanca (c.1387-1441), arrived in Palermo to marry the king of Sicily, Martí “El Joven” (r. 1390-1409), in an effort to secure his throne following the death of his first wife and co-ruler, Maria of Sicily (r. 1377-1401). The circumstances of this union began in the fourteenth century as the Aragonese royal house worked to unite its monarchy with Sicily in the decades following the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282-1302). Since 1302, Sicily was ruled by a semi-autonomous cadet branch of the Aragonese House of Barcelona that maintained its own monarchy, parliament, and political institutions. While Maria’s death in 1401 temporarily stalled hopes in Barcelona for a dynastic merge with Sicily, Martí’s place as king of Sicily and heir of his father in Aragon, Martín “El Humano” (r. 1396-1410), left that possibility open.

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LGBTQIA+ History: Issues of Terminology

By Gabrielle Storey

This piece is the second of four for Pride Month: in this discussion we briefly look at some of the issues around terminology in historical and art studies. We will be providing a specific reference piece for royal studies and sexualities at the end of the month!

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Book Review: The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his Daughter Mary by Melita Thomas

By Johanna Strong

With the growth of revisionist Marian work, scholars have begun to challenge the traditional view of Mary I, England’s first crowned queen regnant (1553-1558), as a religious zealot and tyrant. Instead, she has been revealed as a highly competent, politically savvy queen. In this revisionist scholarship, though, Mary’s personal relationship with her father, Henry VIII, is often overlooked or under-analysed. Melita Thomas’ The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and his Daughter Mary provides an answer to this oversight, adeptly exploring ‘how the personal and the political were woven into the tapestry of [Henry and Mary’s] relationship’ (page 24) from Mary’s birth in 1516 until Henry’s death in 1547.

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The Monarchs of Pride

By Holly Marsden

Cover Image: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/mar/08/rupaul-drag-race-transgender-performers-diversity

Happy Pride month! To celebrate, we are going to explore a very different kind of royalty…drag queens and kings! It is firstly important to understand why the festivals, street parties and rainbow splattered vodka bottles exist. Pride celebrates queer culture, history and activism in commemorating the Stonewall Riots, which took place on 28th June 1969. Police raids on bars that welcomed queer folk had become routine during the 1960s. In response to a raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, members of the city’s LGBTQIA+ community spontaneously demonstrated, and retaliated against violent police officers.

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Book Review: Before the Reign Falls: The Lost Words of Lady Jane Grey by David Black

By Johanna Strong

*This review contains spoilers, the inclusion of which were necessary for a proper analysis of the work’s plot and character development.*

As historians, we must stick to the facts. Occasionally, however, there comes a moment when every historian wonders “but what if…?”.

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The Mongolian Khatuns

By Katia Wright

Many scholars of Mongolian history focus on the politics and warfare which resulted in an empire that stretched from Egypt to China. However, the absence of women in these discussions does not mean that Mongolia’s women, and indeed their khatuns (or queens), had little political, social, or economic power. Royal Mongolian women were prevalent in all key aspects of their husbands’ and sons’ careers and could be incredibly influential throughout major political events. This can be seen most notably in the wives of Genghis Khan.

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Book Review: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

By Holly Marsden

Queenship and Francophilia in Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Tolstoy’s War and Peace was first published as a selection of short stories before its novel format in 1869. Beginning in July 1805 and ending in 1820, the epic story depicts the Napoleonic invasion of Russia and its effects on five aristocratic families. Although queenship is not a main focus of the novel, Tolstoy provides an interesting insight into the power of Russian queens and their cultural ties. It should be noted that this review references the Wordsworth Classics edition which is in translation, bringing with it the politics and challenges of reading in translation.

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The Age of Queens in Medieval Lanka

By Bruno M. Shirley (Cornell University)
Twitter: @brunomshirley

Lanka’s long twelfth century has been called many things: the “Augustine Age” of Sinhala-language literature; an Age of Reform for Buddhist institutional and intellectual lineages; a Golden Age of growing internal stability and external influence across the Bay of Bengal, at least under the long reign (c. 1153-86) of Parākramabāhu I. Mindful of the rapid succession of increasingly vulnerable monarchs following Parākramabāhu’s death, others have seen this period as one of gradual decline from instability into outright chaos, culminating in the eventual invasion of Parākramabāhu’s former capital Poḷonnaruva in c. 1215 and a permanent shift of power towards the island’s south.

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Book Review: The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England by Valerie Traub

By Holly Marsden

Valerie Traub’s sentiments towards queer queens in The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England works against scholarship that renders female homoeroticism invisible prior to the Enlightenment, arguing instead that representations of queer femme desire in publications increased in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. She refers to this growth as a ‘renaissance,’ intentionally and ironically using the term in opposition to the male-centric, heteronormative ideologies that the Renaissance represents. By ‘queering’ queenship, Traub has opened the possibility that early modern queens acted outside of heterosexual love and desire, a notion addressed in recent popular culture in terms of Queen Anne. Through literary and visual analysis, Traub questions how lesbian-like tropes were made intelligible to contemporary audiences. Her use of lesbian-like, a term coined by Judith M. Bennett, aids Traub’s aim not to situate modern lesbians in the past, but to trace the emergence and influences of this modern identity category. In doing so, Traub also introduces a queer theoretical approach which seeks to overturn the ‘impossible’ nature of early modern queer women which has been sold by heteronormative scholarship.

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