• The Lonely Afterlives of Early English Queens

    Matthew Firth (see profile) , Cassandra Schilling
    Middle Ages, Literature, Medieval, Queens, English literature--Old English, 425-1789, Beowulf, Ethelfled, -918
    Item Type:
    Permanent URL:
    Queens were important figures within the court communities of pre-Norman England, their status defined by their relationship to the king, whether as queen-consort, queen-mother, queen-regent, or queen-dowager. These were positions with an attendant degree of prestige and authority, but a vulnerability to the vicissitudes of the king’s fortunes. Often this would lead to periods of exile from the court community. Such exiled queens could find refuge on their own lands or other communities, such as abbeys and foreign courts. This removal from the centre of power allowed the king to minimise or control any vestigial queenly status or authority, and guard against the exiled queen becoming a locus for alternative political factions. These queens-in-exile form the focus of this article, which seeks to establish not only the patterns and contexts that allowed such social isolation to occur, but queens’ emotional responses to it. Here there are four interlinked concepts: social isolation (exile), emotional isolation (loneliness), social loneliness (the absence of community), and emotional loneliness (the absence of a close individual). These are observable across the experiences of an array of literary and historical pre-Norman queens, from Beowulf and Elene through to royal women, such as Æthelflæd (d. 918), Eadgifu (d. c.966), and Emma of Normandy (d. 1052). Through the analysis of such experiences, it is possible to construct cultural perspectives on the exercise of queenly authority, on queenly vulnerability, and on queenly affect.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    11 months ago
    Share this:


    Item Name: pdf s11061-022-09739-4.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 301