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This volume, the first of a projected series, focuses on the theme of women and royal power. Each author has re-examined the available information about specific royal women and re-assessed their access to, or use of, power and authority. By doing so, the contributors also encourage us to reconsider previous interpretations of internal politics and international relations between medieval England, Flanders, and the kingdoms of the Iberian peninsula. Indeed, based on these contributions, it seems that notable royal women flourished in the Spanish kingdoms long before Isabella I. Taken as a group, the essays suggest that medieval women exercised certain types of royal power, or authority, within socially-accepted spheres, and that this phenomenon was more wide-spread than commonly thought. These essays are a valuable addition to previous political and institutional studies, which either have ignored the queen's role in government completely or placed an adverse interpretation upon her intervention. They examine how time, place, and attitudes determined a royal woman's means of expression, and suggest the ties of lineage that linked the kingdoms of Portugal, Flanders, England and Castile. The experiences evidenced in this volume indicate that medieval attitudes towards women and royal power were fairly consistent across a wide geographical area.
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