Co-Operation, Co-Rulership and Competition
: Queenship in the Angevin Domains, 1135-1230

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is a comparative study of the ways in which four royal women, Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria of Navarre, and Isabella of Angoulême, navigated the personal and political spheres of the Angevin domains. This examination analyses, through the lenses of co-operation and competition, the co-ruling relationships the women formed with their husbands and sons, and their relationships with one another as mothers and daughters-in-law. This research demonstrates how the exercise of power by women fluctuated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and how female rulership developed and changed in England and France. The first two chapters of this thesis provide a background and overview of the topic under study, outlining the context for the analysis of political activities and partnerships in the succeeding chapters. The third chapter investigates how the four women of this study worked with their husbands to rule, introducing new models of rulership which have their foundations in Woodacre’s work on the queens regnant of Navarre. It also examines sole rulership and how the women operated as heiresses and constructed affinities. The fourth chapter continues this analysis of partnerships and models of rulership by examining how Matilda, Eleanor, and Isabella worked with their sons to govern successfully. It will also demonstrate how Berengaria accessed power despite her childlessness. Chapter five highlights the competitive aspects between mothers and daughters-in-law by analysing their access to lands, revenues, and titles, as well as their access to ceremonies and public visibility. An investigation into the religious patronage of the four women will be undertaken here as well. This study demonstrates that queenly power fluctuated in this period due personal relationships as well as political partnerships and changes in governance. This thesis also demonstrates that female rulership was an essential component to the functioning of the Angevin monarchy, and that each of the four women engaged with different facets of rulership to establish their own spheres of authority.
Date of Award26 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorEllie Woodacre (Supervisor) & Katherine Weikert (Supervisor)

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