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December Digital Seminar

5 December 2023


Seminar:  "Without  being  able  to  take  her  away"  -

Rethinking  the  Role  of  Queenship  &  Raptus  in  Medieval  Political Expansion,  1200 - 1415

Jessica Minieri (Binghamton University)



The abduction and confinement of royal figures was a constant factor of warfare and political negotiation in the lands of the Crown of Aragon in the Middle Ages. Single women with property and titles faced the greatest threat to their bodies since politically ambitious noblemen often forced such women into coercive marriages to gain political authority through them. In Majorca and Sicily from 1350 to 1415, the imprisonment, forced marriages, and abductions of royal figures allowed the Aragonese to take both kingdoms directly under their control. Two examples from this period – the abduction of Maria of Sicily in 1379 and the family of James III of Majorca in 1345 – demonstrate the ways in which this practice of abduction and captivity allowed King Pere IV of Aragon (1336-1387) and his sons, Joan I (1387-1396), and Martin I (1396-1410), to gain direct control to these territories by controlling the bodies and dynastic futures of both cadet branches of the House of Barcelona. 

In examining these cases, this paper will focus on the degree to which Aragonese expansionist policy was dependent on the marriages, sexuality, and reigns of monarchs of Sicily and Majorca as the Crown renegotiated its role in the wider Mediterranean world. This presentation will discuss the ways in which gender shaped the experience of captivity, as well as the motives for imprisoning two reigning monarchs in the span of a few decades. In comparison, both cases emphasize the ways in which gender, sexuality, and the threat of sexual violence shaped the experiences of both figures in captivity and how the House of Barcelona manipulated their royal captives.



Gwen Seabourne (TBC)


Seminar Timetable

17:00 – 17:10: Introduction (Chair)

17:10 – 17:55: Presentations

17:55 – 18:15: Q&A


Presenter bio

Jessica is a PhD candidate at Binghamton University in the Department of History. Her project focuses on the abductions, imprisonment, and forced marriages of royal women in the Crown of Aragon from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. Jessica’s work focuses on this problem of abduction and its implications for female succession, political culture, and political theology in the high and later Middle Ages. Her dissertation project, tentatively titled, "Stolen Bodies and Hollow Crowns: The Abduction and Forced Confinement in the Medieval Mediterranean, 1200-1415," examines this problem through the study of interconnected case studies in Aragonese controlled Majorca and Sicily.

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