15 March 2022


Panel: A ‘Fresh’ Perspective? Comparison as a Core Methodology in Medieval Queenship Studies

Paula Del Val Vales (University of Lincoln), Anaïs Waag (University of Lincoln), and Gabrielle Storey (University of East Anglia)
















(From the thirteenth-century manuscript Tumbo del monasterio de los Santos Justo y Pastor de Toxos Outosdisplaying King Alfonso IX of León and his wife, Berenguela of Castile; Madrid, Archivo Histórico Nacional, Códices, L. 1002, f. 28r.)



In 1928 March Bloch published his seminal article ‘Toward a Comparative History of European Societies’, advocating the application of the comparative methodology to historical research and pushing forward a debate on the importance of this method for the advancement of the discipline of history. Since its publication, almost a century ago, many scholars have applied this methodology to their own research, identifying both the advantages and inconveniences of its use – a notable recent example is Chris Wickham’s 2009 article ‘The Problems of Doing Comparative History’. Within the field of medieval queenship, however, it is a largely underused methodology. Thus far, scholarship has focused on bibliographical or regional approaches to medieval queens and queenship, with numerous edited collections allowing for important connections to be drawn across time and space. Nonetheless, it is still infrequent to encounter individual scholars who undertake comparative studies of queens from different medieval kingdoms or polities. Moreover, when comparison is applied, such a methodology is rarely discussed in its own right.


This panel seminar aims to bring forward a much-needed conversation on the place of comparative studies within the field of medieval queenship and royal studies more broadly, a conversation which will hopefully contribute to a collectivereflection and lively discussion on historical research.



Ellie Woodacre


Seminar Timetable

17:00 – 17:10: Introduction (Chair)

17:10 – 17:30: Anaïs Waag, "Comparing Queens Regnant Across Space and Time: Opportunities and Challenges"

17:30-17:50: Gabby Storey, "Mothers and Daughters-in-Law: The values of comparing royal women and their rulership "

17:50-18:10: Paula Del Val Vales, "Southern Versus Northern Queenship? Reflections over the Comparative Study of Thirteenth-century Queens Consort and Their Households"

18:10 – 18:25: Q&A


Presenter bios

Paula Del Val Vales is a second year PhD candidate at the University of Lincoln. Her thesis is a comparative study of thirteenth-century queens’ households and courts across Castile, England and the Crown of Aragon; for which she has been awarded a Postgraduate Fellowship abroad by the ‘La Caixa’ Foundation. Paula holds a BA in History from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, where she obtained the Premio Extraordinario de Grado, and a MA in Medieval Studies with Distinction from King’s College London. She is a member of several international research groups and projects, and a founding member of the young medievalist researchers’ association ‘Asociación JIMENA’ based at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid. Through her research, Paula aims to explore the queens’ establishments, resources, revenues, personnel and networks; and she is also working on the first ever edition of the household and wardrobe accounts of the English queen Eleanor of Provence.


Dr. Anaïs Waag is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of History and Heritage at the University of Lincoln. She specialises in gender studies and women's history, with a particular focus on power – its management and representation – and political communication, which she approaches from a comparative perspective. She completed her doctoral research at King's College London, under the supervision of Dr Alice Taylor (KCL) and Dr John Sabapathy (UCL). Her thesis, ‘Forms and Formalities of Thirteenth-Century Queenship: A Comparative Study’, examined how female power was formally and publicly expressed in England, France and the Iberian Peninsula. She is currently working on the Leverhulme-funded project ‘Female Royal Rulership in Theory and Practice: Queens Regnant, 1109-1328’. A comparative study of the earliest female claims to royal thrones in Aragon, Castile-Leon, England, France, Jerusalem, Navarre, Portugal, Scotland, and Sicily, this project examines female royal rulership in the Middle Ages, and aims to shed new light on both the symbolic and practical means by which royal heiresses across medieval Western Europe and the Mediterranean managed, represented, and manipulated royal power. 


Dr. Gabrielle Storey is a historian of Angevin queenship, with a particular interest in familial relations and the exercise of power and authority. Her wider interests focus on gender and sexuality in the medieval period in Western Europe. She is currently working on the production of a monograph from her thesis which is a comparative study of Angevin queens, focussing on co-rulership, competition, and co-operation with their royal husbands and sons. She is also producing a biography of Berengaria of Navarre to be published in 2023. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Winchester and the University of East Anglia, and Public Engagement Officer for the Institute of Historical Research London Society for Medieval Studies seminar.