Publication – Simon MacLean, « Ottonian Queenship »

This is the first major study in English of the queens of the Ottonian dynasty (919-1024). The Ottonians were a family from Saxony who are often regarded as the founders of the medieval German kingdom. They were the most successful of all the dynasties to emerge from the wreckage of the pan-European Carolingian Empire after it disintegrated in 888, ruling as kings and emperors in Germany and Italy and exerting indirect hegemony in France and in Eastern Europe. It has long been noted by historians that Ottonian queens were peculiarly powerful – indeed, among the most powerful of the entire Middle Ages. Their reputations, particularly those of the empresses Theophanu (d.991) and Adelheid (d.999) have been commemorated for a thousand years in art, literature, and opera. But while the exceptional status of the Ottonian queens is well appreciated, it has not been fully explained. Ottonian Queenship offers an original interpretation of Ottonian queenship through a study of the sources for the dynasty’s six queens, and seeks to explain it as a phenomenon with a beginning, middle, and end. The argument is that Ottonian queenship has to be understood as a feature in a broader historical landscape, and that its history is intimately connected with the unfolding story of the royal dynasty as a whole. Simon MacLean therefore interprets the spectacular status of Ottonian royal women not as a matter of extraordinary individual personalities, but as a distinctive product of the post-Carolingian era in which the certainties of the ninth century were breaking down amidst overlapping struggles for elite family power, royal legitimacy, and territory. Queenship provides a thread which takes us through the complicated story of a crucial century in Europe’s creation, and helps explain how new ideas of order were constructed from the debris of the past.


Simon MacLean studied for his undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the University of Glasgow, and his PhD at King’s College London. He is now a professor in the School of History at the University of St Andrews, teaching and researching the history of Western Europe in the early Middle Ages, especially the ninth and tenth centuries.

Table des matières :

1: Queens and dynasties in post-Carolingian Europe
2: English queens and native queens in post-Carolingian Francia and Saxony, 917-939
3: An Ottonian queen at the West Frankish court, 939-954
4: The three families of Queen Gerberga, 950-965
5: Writing Ottonian queenship I: Adelheid and the conquest of Italy, 951-973
6: Writing Ottonian queenship II: Liudprand of Cremona and Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim
7: Theophanu and the ‘dominae imperiales’, 972-991
8: Inauguration and office in the reign of Cunigunde, 1002-1024
9: The end of Ottonian queenship?

Informations pratiques :
Simon MacLean, Ottonian Queenship, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017. 272 Pages | 10 black and white maps and genealogies. 234x153mm. ISBN: 9780198800101. Prix : 65 £.

Source : Oxford University Press

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