15 February 2022 (12:00 BST / 13:00 CET)
Seminar: The Prerogatives, Lands, and Revenues of England's Early Queens, 850-1000
Matthew Firth (Flinders University)
(Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians; British Library Board, Cotton MS Claudius B VI, f.14 r.)
In the years 850–1000, English queenship was increasingly defined by a set of traditional prerogatives, lands and revenues. Though the evidence is fragmentary and, at times, inconclusive, these are, nonetheless, an important aspect of the transition of queenship from a conceptually nebulous role for which we have little extant diplomatic evidence, to something approaching an ‘office’. This seminar will examine the evidence for these prerogatives, with particular reference to two of pre-Conquest England’s most politically active queens-consort: Eadgifu (d. c.966), the third consort to King Edward the Elder (d. 924), and Ælfthryth (d c.1000), third consort to King Edgar the Peaceful (d. 975). Both women are named in charters and wills which detail instances of their involvement in land exchange and paid intercession. As much of this was linked to ecclesiastical institutions and church reform, the seminar will go on to survey the queen’s role in the patronage and maintenance of religious houses and the close links that existed between English queens- consort and certain abbeys. To close, it will consider what of this evidence can be brought to bear to illuminate how queens of the tenth century financed their households and, ranging forward to their eleventh century successors, the extent to which these prerogatives can be considered to exist on a continuum.
12:00 – 12:10: Introduction (Chair)
12:10 – 12:55: Presentation
12:55 – 13:25: Q&A
Matthew Firth is a researcher of early medieval English history and literature and is a final year PhD candidate at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. His published works have appeared in The Court Historian, Royal Studies Journal and English Studies, among other venues, and focus on England’s pre-Conquest kings and queens and their legacies. He has a particular interest in how royal reputation was transmitted, adapted and memorialised of in the histories of later medieval writers. Matthew is currently writing a book for the Routledge Lives of Royal Women series, entitled Early English Queenship, 850–1000: Potestas Reginae.