Skip to main content


I came to university as a mature student, progressing from the award-winning 'Exploring the Past' pathway in 2011.

Research interests include:

  • 10th to 12th century female power and authority.

  • Royal and noble inheritance, female succession and regnant queenship.

  • Diplomacy and peacemaking

  • Dynastic marriage alliances.


2016: Cardiff University, Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Ancient & Medieval History. Dr Paul Webster (supervisor). Dissertation: The Empress Matilda and the English Throne: Succession, Gender and Power. Distinction. 

2019: Cardiff University, Master of Arts Medieval British Studies. Dr Bronach Kane and Dr Paul Webster (supervisors). Dissertation: To Have and To Hold: An Examination of dynastic Royal Marriage in the Twelfth Century between the kingdom of England, the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Anjou. Distinction.


Review of Colette Bowie, The Daughters of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, Royal Studies Journal, vol.2, issue 1, May 2015

Review of Carl Watkins, Stephen, Royal Studies Journal, vol.3, issue 2, December 2016

Online Publications

Eleanor of Aquitaine: 20th & 21st century approaches. January 2016.

Princess Alys of France: a Twelfth-Century Patty Hearst? February 2017

Procopius' Secret History: a realistic account of the reign of Justinian and Theodora. March 2017.

Significance of Royal Marriages to England's kings between 1066-1399. July 2017.

Publication in Edited Collection

“Regnant Queenship and Royal Marriage between the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Nobility of Western Europe”, in A Companion to Global Queenship, E. Woodacre (ed.), ARC Humanities Press, July 2018.

Papers Presented

“Empress Matilda c.1102-1167. Heiress to England and Normandy.” Championing Her Story: Championing forgotten women in Women’s History Month Conference. Cardiff University, 18th February 2019.

“Melisende of Jerusalem. A Female King?”. Cardiff University Society for Women Graduates: Inaugural Postgraduate Research Conference. Cardiff University, 6th June 2019.

"Diplomatic Marriage in the Duchy of Normandy", Virtual Noblewomen Network Conference. 17th September 2020.

Professional Memberships

Member of the Royal Studies Network

Member of the Noblewomen Network


Research interests

Current research projects include:

Forthcoming publications in edited collections

“Betrothed and Betrayed: The Unconventional Life of Princess Alys of France 1160-1220” will be published in Queens in Waiting: Potential and Prospective Queens, Ambitions and Expectations, S. Betts and C. McKenzie (eds.).

“From Child Bride to Royal Widow: The Captivating Case of Princess Margaret of France 1157/58-1197” will be published in English Consorts: Power, Influence, Dynasty. A. Norrie, C. Harris, J. Laynesmith, D. Messer, and E. Woodacre (eds.).

Both of these publications are forthcoming for the Queenship and Power series by Palgrave MacMillan.

Forthcoming Conference Papers

“Melisende and Sibylla: Two Medieval Queens of Jerusalem”, jointly with Prof. Helen Nicholson. Eileen Younghusband Memorial Lecture, Cardiff University, June 2021.

“Emma of Normandy: A noblewoman who laid “the Disturbances of War to Rest’”, Noblewomen Pushing the Boundaries III: Royal Women, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, July 2021.

Seminar Paper

The Medieval Mediterranean: Local and Global Perspectives 15th December 2020 "Queenship studies across the Medieval Mediterranean and Western Europe". Confirmed panel of speakers: Dr Anais Waag (Leverhulme EC Fellow at the University of Lincoln), Paula Del Val Veles (PhD candidate, University of Lincoln), Hayley Bassett (PhD candidate, Cardiff University).  



‘Inter-dynastic Marriage Alliances – Law, Diplomatic Practice and Policy in Normandy and England 911-1204’

Marriages between royal dynasties, powerful magnates and important neighbours offered opportunities to cement alliances, extend influence and strengthen authority. There is a general assumption that pre-modern, political marriage is well-explored in academia, but this is inaccurate. The concept that marriage produced dynastic ties between nobles and royal families has been touched upon but the role and function of marriage in diplomacy, particularly redressing legal wrongs and enforcing restitution, is significantly under-explored.

Focusing upon the Duchy of Normandy from its inception in 911 to the loss of Normandy by King John in 1204, this thesis will consider the purpose marriage alliances served in diplomatic practice, Norman tradition and political policy in the region. It will examine the different contexts under which marriages were proposed, negotiated and agreed, regardless of whether the union actually took place. 

The Duchy of Normandy provides a unique opportunity to examine both noble and royal approaches to marriage diplomacy, as Duke William II of Normandy conquered England in 1066 and his successors inherited both the Norman duchy and the kingship of England.



Dr Jenny Benham

Lecturer in Medieval History

Paul Webster

Dr Paul Webster

Exploring the Past Coordinator