Sunday, June 9, 2013

Queen-making in Early Medieval France and England

This thesis compares the functions of queen-making and the concepts of queenship in Anglo-Saxon England and West Francia in the early medieval period. The urge to inaugurate the king’s wife ritually to her position, in particular to anoint her as part of a rite of passage, seems to have arisen among the two peoples at more or less the same time. The present work assesses the significance of queen-making for both peoples, the possible exchange of coronation orders [ordines], and any cross-Channel influence which may have created conditions in which developments occurred. It addresses such questions as whether a concept of queenship existed, whether queenship was regarded as an office, and if there was any interdependence between queen-making rites and concepts of queenship. The work follows the chronological development of queen-making rites, surveying the entire early medieval period, from the conversions of both peoples to the late eleventh century. It takes as its starting point the period when a woman became a queen simply by virtue of the fact of her marriage with a king. We know of one queen’s consecration in the mid-eighth century, that of Bertrada, though the more regular consecrations of queens, including an element of unction, began in the mid- to late ninth century. The earliest queen-making rites were developed in Francia and were quickly adopted by the Anglo-Saxons who continued to use and develop them until the Conquest. The West Franks were more conservative in developing their king and queen-making rites and from the early tenth to the early twelfth centuries appear to have left their royal inauguration rites unchanged. The thesis analyses the ordines used in order to assess the purposes, and the political and religious significance, of queen-making. It surveys the surviving manuscripts containing the ordines, and the printed texts of those ordines for which no manuscripts survive. (Read entire post.)

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