melisende of jerusalem


The Age of the Queen Regnant

The twelfth century is notable for the number of women who inherited the throne in their own right, exercising this right with varying degrees of success. Most would find male support necessary to establish their rule, but just as often these women were forced to take up arms against such men, whether they be husband, son, or cousin. Frightening, unprecedented, and remarkable, this age of formidable queens would not find its counterpart until the 16th century.

Urraca of Leon (1109-1126): the first queen regnant of a major Western power, Urraca inherited the kingdoms of Leon, Castile, and Galicia from her father, Alfonso VI. According to her father’s wishes, the widowed heiress married Alfonso I “The Battler” of Aragon, a marriage which would prove a bane to Urraca’s subjects and soon Urraca herself as the Aragonese king sought to assert himself in her kingdoms at the expense of Urraca’s power. In addition to her husband, Urraca’s rule was likewise challenged by her half-sister, Teresa of Portugal, and the supporters of her son, Alfonso Raimundez, in Galicia. Against such odds, Urraca prevailed, skillfully playing each side against another, and passed a kingdom peaceful and intact onto her son at her death.

Melisende of Jerusalem (1131-1153): the first queen of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, which she inherited jointly with her husband, Fulk of Anjou, and infant son, Baldwin, on the death of her father, Baldwin II. Melisende would champion the native nobility against Fulk and his personal retainers, asserting her personal power following a rebellion and garnering her husband’s respect and fear. Following Fulk’s sudden death, Melisende ruled on her own, continuing to do so even after her son had reached his majority, welcoming the Western armies on the Second Crusade. Her determination to maintain her personal power against her son’s encroachment would lead to armed conflict between them in her last years, resulting in a temporary partition of the kingdom.

Petronilla of Aragon (1137-1164): the first queen of Aragon, Petronilla was the only child of Ramiro II, known as “The Monk” who despite being a bishop was chosen as king following the death of his childless brother, Alfonso I. Ramiro abdicated in 1137, having concluded Petronilla’s betrothal to Ramon Berenguer IV of Barcelona, leaving his two-year-old daughter and her twenty-five year-old husband rulers of Aragon. Petronilla ruled alongside her husband until his death in 1162, abdicating two years later in favor of her seven-year-old son, Alfonso II. Her marriage brought about the union of the Crown of Aragon, over which her son would rule. The extent of Petronilla’s own power is unclear, frustratingly hidden beneath that of her husband’s and her son’s.

Empress Matilda (1141-1148): the only legitimate child of Henry I of England following her brother’s death, Matilda was recognized by her father as his heir.  To bolster her claim, she was remarried to Geoffrey of Anjou, a distasteful union to both, but one that served their mutual political interests. After her father’s death, Matilda’s claim was usurped by her cousin, Stephen. What followed was roughly a decade of civil war, known as the “Anarchy” with both side jockeying for the throne. Matilda achieved a brief triumph, having captured Stephen, and was acclaimed “Lady of the English”. Her fortunes soon changed and Stephen regained his throne. The struggle dragging on, Matilda began to champion the claims of her son, Henry FitzEmpress, instead of her own. Her efforts paid off and Henry came to the throne as Henry II following Stephen’s death. Matilda would spend the remainder of her life a valued adviser to her son.

Constance of Sicily (1194-1198): married to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI in her early thirties, Constance was recognized as heiress in Sicily by her childless nephew, William III. However upon his death, his bastard cousin, Tancred, seized the throne, supported by many who feared Hohenstaufen influence. Henry and Constance led several campaigns into Sicily, one of which resulted in Constance’s capture. Following Tancred’s death, they ascended the throne. Having given birth to a son, Constance turned against Henry, joining with the native nobility in resisting Hohenstaufen domination. Upon his unexpected death, she had her son, Frederick, crowned king and placed him under the guardianship of the pope shortly prior to her own death in 1198.

rionsanura  asked:

hlo, I like your post 122117875674 and I wondered if you had a list of similar posts and/or a book debunking misconceptions of medieval history that I could read? I am making my way through your "medieval history" tag and enjoying it immensely, but I thought I'd ask in case you had favorites you wanted to point to

Ahahaha, this ask is actually super well timed because I just finished four days at the IMC (International Medieval Congress) running around to sessions and taking gigatons of notes, so I have a shit ton of new stuff to discuss. This year’s theme was “The Other,” so there was an especially strong representation of papers on medieval women, medieval queer history, and other such things.

Some highlights:

I am still hearteyes af over the fact that I got to hear Ruth Mazo Karras (an academic heroine of mine, and whose books I have extensively recommended for people curious about the medieval history of sexuality) give a paper, and I also bought her book, Sexuality in Medieval Europe (I should have got her to sign it for me, heh).  She is definitely still the starting point for reading on gender, sexuality, marriage, mlm, and other questions in a medieval context,(and apparently she is accepting a position at Trinity College in Dublin next year, so I will not-so-lowkey hope she needs a postdoc research fellow, because PICK MEEEE). But Dr. Rachel E. Moss at Oxford University is also working on questions of medieval homosociality (and medieval rape culture, which I found really fascinating) and gender/cultural/sexual social and family history of the medieval era, and she also has a blog.

Amy Ogden at the University of Virginia works on medieval gender representations in studies of saints (including arguably trans/female to male individuals who became monks and how they are treated in clerical writing – in short, these authors struggle to overcome gendered/binary essentialism, but there is also a recognized genre of texts around women becoming/posing as men in order to become closer to God, and this is a cause of concern but also admiration. In other words, arguably transgender medieval figures are not represented universally negatively, but as an aspiration and even an idealisation of holiness). Martha Newman at the University of Texas is also working on similar questions and the case of Joseph of Schanau, a 12th-century Cistercian monk who, after his death, was discovered to be biologically a woman. Prof. Newman has identified some similar themes in Joseph’s treatment by the clerical writer Engelhard of Langheim, and she has a book coming out next year on it. Furthermore, Blake Gutt at Cambridge is studying a medieval French vernacular romance, Le roman de Saint Fanuel, that seems to depict a female-to-male protagonist and saint, who becomes pregnant and gives birth to St. Anne, the mother of Mary (thus, as he put it, “grafting a transgender branch onto the Holy Family”) and does other really interesting work on the reading of medieval texts through transgendered and genderqueer lenses.

Natasha Hodgson, whose work I have also recommended before (and who I also got to see give a paper… this was basically nerd utopia, okay) works on gender and the crusades, including representation of crusading masculinities and women and the crusades. (She is also a person who I am just gonna sit over here and hope needs a postdoc researcher.) Charlotte Pickard works on power and patronage among medieval noblewomen in northern France (another research area/interest of mine), and Harriet Kersey works on the legal and landowning status of women (particularly heiresses) in England.

There was also another session on women and literacy in the Middle Ages, mostly focusing on letters received by medieval queens, and Danielle Park works specifically on crusaders’ wives and gave a paper on the correspondence between Bernard of Clairvaux and Queen Melisende of Jerusalem (for multiple generations in the 12th century, the inheritance/rule of the crusader kingdom in Jerusalem, in fact, passed through/was centered in women. Also, Bernard is probably the actual patron saint of mansplaining, but never mind.)

Anyway, not all of these researchers have published books (although many do), but it will at least point you in the direction of the work they’re doing, and the kind of questions that are being asked in the academic study of medieval history these days. (There were also a ton more amazing panels on otherness as constructed through race, religion, and so forth, that I could not get to because there are literally about 350 sessions at this thing over 4 days). There were also papers given on the shared chivalric culture between Christians and Muslims, the medieval literary genre of “Saracen romances,” and the other ways in which the West has interpreted that encounter and experience. And I can say with 100% more confidence after this conference, which I would have said with 100% confidence beforehand anyway, that anyone who wants to tell you The Medieval View on anything is a) wrong, and b) Wrong. The “medieval view” is ridiculously diverse; the era spans 1000 years (500-1500 is the generally agreed time period) over a vast geographic span and countless cultures and societies, and constitutes, in many cases, a far more nuanced, colorful, and challenging portrait of a flourishing intellectual life and dealing with topics than the “It Was Just The Way Things Were in the Dark Ages” crowd that I hate (uh, strongly dislike) so much would ever have you believe.

So anyway. Happy digging.


inspirational historical women: queen melisende of jerusalem {1105-1161}

Melisende began her reign with her father at the end of his life. In 1129 she married Fulk V of Anjou (France). In 1131, they became joint rulers of Jerusalem, although Fulk outshone Melisende and effectively ignored her. In the mid 1130s this changed. Rumors flew, accusing Melisende of having an affair with Fulk’s biggest rival, the rebel Hugh II. Fulk chose to believe the rumors and provoked a war against Melisende and her supporters. But her forces prevailed, and her fortunes changed. She insisted on strong peace-terms, which included her admission to the inner councils of the kingdom. She was given great leeway in promoting the arts and in founding a huge abbey. Thereafter, wrote the historian William of Tyre, Fulk “never tried to initiate anything, even in trivial matters, with her foreknowledge.”

After Fulk’s death Melisende became regent for her 13 year old son, Baldwin.

But by now, however, she had had a taste of real power and she became determined to hold unto it. 1145 was the year Baldwin was to celebrate the attainment of his majority. Melisende ignored the date, easing him out of every place of influence, omitting his name from public acts.

Baldwin put up with this mother’s actions until 1152. Complaining to the high court of the kingdom that his mother would not let him rule, he demanded that the realm be divided between mother and son. This is what happened. Melisende ruled Judaea and Samaria and Baldwin the north.

The division didn’t last for long. While Melisende’s supporters urged the Franks to take account of her efficient administration and ability to rule, it was Baldwin who held the right to rule. This alone was enough to gain greater support for his cause. After a brief military campaign against her, he overwhelmed his mother’s army. Her last stronghold was the cramped confines of the Tower of David in Jerusalem.

In spite of their past disagreements, mother and son were reconciled, and she remained one of his closest advisers until her death.

But these rivalries greatly damaged the future of the crusader’s Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Muslims took great tracts of territories from the crusaders during the period of Melisende’s troubled reign. As a result, Jerusalem never again let a woman rule. When in 1186 a woman actually inherited the crown, her husband was effectively elevated to rule in her place.

Index of Mini-Biographies  -Ordered by name

1.       Adela of Normandy letter (1109) 

2.       Adelaide del Vasto (c1075 – 1118) 

3.       Adeliza of Louvain (c1103 –1151)

4.       Æthelburg, Queen of Wessex (c.673 – 740)

5.       Agnes of Antioch (1154 – c.1184)

6.       Agnes “Black Agnes” Randolph (c1312 – 1369)

7.       Aliénor de Poitiers (c1445 – 1509) 

8.       Anna Porphyrogenita (963 – 1011)

9.       Anne of Kiev (c1030 – 1075)

10.     Beatriz “La Latina” Galindo (c1465 – 1534)

11.     Bertha of Holland (c1055 – 1093)

12.     Bertrade de Montfort (c1070 – 1117)

13.     Börte Üjin, Mongol Khatun (c1161 – 1230)

14.     Catherine of Siena, Saint (1347 – 1380)

15.     Christine de Pizan (c1364 – 1430) 

16.     Clare of Assisi, Saint (1194 – 1253)

17.     Clementia of Hungary (1293 – 1328)   

18.     Constance of Aragon (1179 – 1222) 

19.     Cymburgis of Masovia (1397 – 1429) 

20.     Dagmar of Bohemia (c1186 – 1212)

21.     Dervorgilla at war (1315 – 1316)

22.     Elizabeth Báthory (1560 – 1614)

23.     Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint (1207 – 1231) 

24.     Elizabeth of Poland (1305 – 1380) 

25.     Elizabeth Richeza of Poland (1286 – 1335)

26.     Emma of Normandy (c985 – 1052)

27.     Fredegund, Queen Consort of Neustria (?-597)

28.     Gisela of Swabia (c990 - 1043)

29.     Hedwig Jagiellon (1457 – 1502) 

30.     Helena of Serbia (c1109 – c1146)

31.     Inês de Castro (1325 – 1355) 

32.     Irene of Athens (c752 – 803)

33.     Isabella MacDuff (c1285 – c1313)  

34.     Isabella of France (1295 – 1358)   

35.     Isabella of Hainault (1170 – 1190)  

36.     Isabella of Valois, child bride (1396) 

37.     Isabella of Villehardouin (c1263 – 1312)

38.     Jeanne “the Hatchet” Laisné (1456 - Unknown)

39.     Jeanne de Montbaston, her smutty art (1300’s) 

40.     Jelena of Bulgaria (c1310 - c.1376)

41.     Joan of Acre (1272 - 1307)

42.     Joan of Kent (1328 – 1385)

43.     Joan, Lady of Wales (c1191 – 1237)

44.     Joanna “la Flamme” of Flanders (c1295 – 1374)

45.     Joanna I of Naples (1326 – 1382)

46.     Judith of Brittany exhumation (982 – 1017)

47.     Marfa Sobakina, Tzarina of Russia (1552 – 1571)

48.     Margaret of Scotland, Saint (c1045 – 1093)

49.     Margery Kempe (c1373 – 1438)   

50.     Marguerite Porete (Unknown – 1310)

51.     Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina (c1350 - 1394)

52.     Marie de France (1100’s) 

53.     Matilda of England, Empress (1102 – 1167)

54.     Matilda of Tuscany ‘love’ letter (1089)

55.     Melisende of Jerusalem (1105 – 1161)

56.     Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (c1583 – 1663)

57.     Olga of Kiev (c890 - 969)

58.     Rogneda of Polotsk (962 – 1002)

59.     Sanchia of Provence (c1228 – 1261)

60.     Shajar al-Durr, Sultana of Egypt (Unknown – 1257)

61.     Sorghaghtani Beki (late 1100’s – 1252)

62.     Tamar the Great of Georgia (1160 – 1213)

63.     Theophanu, Holy Roman Empress (c955 – 991)

64.     Trota of Salerno and women’s medicine (1100s) 

N.B. There is a great deal of other work on this page (both mine and reblogged) about the daily lives, activities and representations of women in the medieval and early modern periods. This list is just to index the mini-bios that I have personally written so far. I have many fascinating women I intend to write about going forward but if you have suggestions please feel free to inbox me.  

Index of Mini-Biographies - Ordered by date

1.     Fredegund, Queen Consort of Neustria (?-597)

2.     Æthelburg, Queen of Wessex (c.673 – 740)

3.     Irene of Athens (c752 – 803)

4.     Olga of Kiev (c890 - 969)

5.     Theophanu, Holy Roman Empress (c955 – 991)

6.     Rogneda of Polotsk (962 – 1002)

7.     Anna Porphyrogenita (963 – 1011)

8.     Judith of Brittany exhumation (982 – 1017)

9.     Emma of Normandy (c985 – 1052)

10.   Gisela of Swabia (c990 - 1043)

11.   Anne of Kiev (c1030 – 1075)

12.   Margaret of Scotland, Saint (c1045 – 1093)

13.   Bertha of Holland (c1055 – 1093)

14.   Bertrade de Montfort (c1070 – 1117)

15.   Adelaide del Vasto (c1075 – 1118) 

16.   Matilda of Tuscany ‘love’ letter (1089)

17.   Trota of Salerno and women’s medicine (1100s) 

18.   Marie de France (1100’s) 

19.   Matilda of England, Empress (1102 – 1167)

20.   Adeliza of Louvain (c1103 –1151)

21.   Melisende of Jerusalem (1105 – 1161)

22.   Adela of Normandy letter (1109) 

23.   Helena of Serbia (c1109 – c1146)

24.   Agnes of Antioch (1154 – c.1184)

25.   Tamar the Great of Georgia (1160 – 1213)

26.   Börte Üjin, Mongol Khatun (c1161 – 1230)

27.   Isabella of Hainault (1170 – 1190)  

28.   Constance of Aragon (1179 – 1222) 

29.   Dagmar of Bohemia (c1186 – 1212)

30.   Joan, Lady of Wales (c1191 – 1237)

31.   Clare of Assisi, Saint (1194 – 1253)

32.   Sorghaghtani Beki (late 1100’s – 1252)

33.   Shajar al-Durr, Sultana of Egypt (Unknown – 1257)

34.   Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint (1207 – 1231) 

35.   Sanchia of Provence (c1228 – 1261)

36.   Isabella of Villehardouin (c1263 – 1312)

37.   Joan of Acre (1272 - 1307)

38.   Isabella MacDuff (c1285 – c1313)  

39.   Elizabeth Richeza of Poland (1286 – 1335)

40.   Clementia of Hungary (1293 – 1328)   

41.   Isabella of France (1295 – 1358)   

42.   Joanna “la Flamme” of Flanders (c1295 – 1374)

43.   Marguerite Porete (Unknown – 1310)

44.   Jeanne de Montbaston, her smutty art (1300’s) 

45.   Elizabeth of Poland (1305 – 1380) 

46.   Jelena of Bulgaria (c1310 - c.1376)

47.   Agnes “Black Agnes” Randolph (c1312 – 1369)

48.   Dervorgilla at war (1315 – 1316)

49.   Inês de Castro (1325 – 1355) 

50.   Joanna I of Naples (1326 – 1382)

51.   Joan of Kent (1328 – 1385)

52.   Catherine of Siena, Saint (1347 – 1380)

53.   Maria Angelina Doukaina Palaiologina (c1350 - 1394)

54.   Christine de Pizan (c1364 – 1430) 

55.   Margery Kempe (c1373 – 1438)   

56.   Isabella of Valois, child bride (1396) 

57.   Cymburgis of Masovia (1397 – 1429) 

58.   Aliénor de Poitiers (c1445 – 1509) 

59.   Jeanne “the Hatchet” Laisné (1456 - Unknown)

60.   Hedwig Jagiellon (1457 – 1502) 

61.   Beatriz “La Latina” Galindo (c1465 – 1534)

62.   Marfa Sobakina, Tzarina of Russia (1552 – 1571)

63.   Elizabeth Báthory (1560 – 1614)

64.   Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba (c1583 – 1663)

N.B. There is a great deal of other work on this page (both mine and reblogged) about the daily lives, activities and representations of women in the medieval and early modern periods. This list is just to index the mini-bios that I have personally written so far. I have many fascinating women I intend to write about going forward but if you have suggestions please feel free to inbox me.