Skip to main content

Medieval Queenship

Duration 6 weekly meetings
Tutor Dr Charlotte Pickard
Course code HIS21A5217A
Fee £235
Concessionary fee £188 (find out about eligibility and funding options)
Enrol now

Past generations of historians focused on kings: male rulers and their achievements in politics and war. The role of queens was frequently overlooked.

What was the role of the queen in the medieval world? This module will explore the notion of Queenship.

Through a series of case studies, ranging from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries and drawing examples from England, France, and Spain, we will examine the role that queens played in medieval society. Students will be introduced to a vibrant recent scholarship, which reinstates royal women in their rightful position as leaders in the medieval world - as mothers and consorts responsible for the perpetuation of royal lines - but equally importantly as strong political figures, even as rulers in their own right, and as patrons of religion and culture.

We will examine medieval queens in the wider context of women of the period, questioning the extent to which we are able to reconstruct their roles using male-dominated written accounts. Students will be introduced to modern approaches to studying Queenship, and explore a wide range of written source material and surviving material culture, to understand the power of the queen in the medieval ‘game of thrones’.

This course is for anyone with an interest in history and the enthusiasm to take that interest further. It operates as part of the Exploring the Past pathway, and will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help you to study other courses in the pathway.

Learning and teaching

This course consists of nine units divided into themes. Each unit comprises a two-hour face-to-face session. These sessions will include lectures, class discussions and group-work, source analysis activities and exercises to develop your academic skills.

There will also be an opportunity for learning outside of the classroom, facilitated by the university’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central.

Coursework and assessment

Students will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • a 500-word source analysis
  • a 1000-word essay.

Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • Bennett, Judith M. and Ruth Mazo Karras (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
  • Castor, H., She-Wolves: The Women who Ruled England before Elizabeth (London: Faber, 2010)
  • Carmi-Parsons, J. (ed.), Medieval Queenship (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1994)
  • Duggan, A. J. (ed.), Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1997)
  • Earenfight, T., Queenship in Medieval Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
  • Hilton, L., Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.