Women in history

A field unploughed – the complicated story of a medieval land dispute

Admit it: one doesn’t really expect medieval ladies to have names like Felicia or Joyce. They sound way too modern, don’t they? And yet today we will spend some time with two ladies with these names. Joyce was the mother of Felicia, but due to events I think we can safely say that there was …

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La Dame Sans Merci – oops, la Dame de Coucy

We tend to believe that medieval rulers had a lot of time for their sons, not so much for their daughters. Leaving aside the fact that medieval kings (and queens) did not exactly sit around and act the doting parents – little princes and princesses were often set up in their own household albeit frequently …

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A series of Hapsburg Doñas

By now, the regular followers of my blog know I a) have a thing about strong women b) am very interested in the Hapsburgs. (I am also somewhat crazy about the medieval period and the seventeenth century, but as today’s post has NOTHING to do with these periods, I am glossing over these addictions of …

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The loyal sister – the life of a renaissance princess

In 1568, a little Swedish princess saw the light of the day. I am proud to report she is a namesake of mine and was therefore baptised Anna. There, dear readers, all similarities between me and this princess end, but hey, one must work with what one has, right? Anna was the daughter of Prince …

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Elizabeth who? A reflection on the life of a medieval woman

Most of us are destined to pass through this life and be quickly forgotten, buried in the huge drifts of human life that border history. Only those that truly stick out—whether for good or bad—get a moment or two of air-time, and for obvious reasons most of these highlighted people tend to be rulers. And …

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From royal sweetheart to Iron Lady

In October of 1611, Karl IX, king of Sweden, died. And no, one should not judge this gentleman by his umm…creative hair-do. Karl was a competent (if rather ruthless) man who used religion as an excuse to wrest the Kingdom of Sweden from his nephew, Sigismund, leaving behind a realm in order, a half-grown son …

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A baby, a baby, a kingdom for a baby – or when the bishop did his duty

In 1134, Alfonso I of Aragón died, without heirs to his body. Regular readers of this blog may remember Alfonso from a previous post about Queen Urraca—or you may not, seeing as Iberian history is infested with kings named Alfonso and it is quite difficult to keep track of all of them. Anyway: Alfonso’s marriage …

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Of Easter witches and dire death

I just spoke to one of my colleagues who asked me if I was already comfortably seated on my broomstick. “Not yet,” I told him. “Some hours to go before the annual get-together:” “Ah. And do you use GPS or a more traditional compass?” I snorted. “I just point the broom in the right direction, …

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Of golden camels and shortchanged heiresses

In 1204, a certain Marie de Montpellier married King Pedro II of Aragón. This was her third marriage, and I dare say we can safely conclude Marie was rather unlucky in love—or at least in marriages. But before we start dissecting her marital unions, we need some background. Marie was the daughter of Guillaume of …

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Is she Violent? No, she's Violante

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder what our dear ancestors might have been high on when naming their children. Take, for example, the royal custom in medieval Castile of naming their little princesses Urraca. Urraca is Spanish for magpie, and my main objection to the name is how harsh it sounds. Urraca is an onomatopoeic …

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