Eleanor of Aquitaine: Why we should not forget the medieval era when searching for our most powerful queens.

The York Historian

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On the 9th September, Queen Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest reigning British monarch. Journalists marked the event with comparisons between the two queens, [1] whilst some historians chose to look back to the Tudor queens of England; Mary and Elizabeth. [2] Both Victoria and Elizabeth I expanded Britain’s oversea territories, were patrons of the arts, and successfully ruled without a husband over shadowing them. It is understandable such large characters dominate our historical view when we search for the strong female leaders of our past. However, our focus on these women, mean that powerful medieval queens often get forgotten. I am not attempting to say that they had any equal power to that of the more modern Queens – medieval queens were undeniably second to the king.

Dispelling a myth

Medieval queens were also not the weak and submissive figures they sometimes come across as. Such…

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