'Ab les man junctes e genolls en terra': Intercession and the Notion of Queenship in Late Medieval Catalonia
Did medieval women who wore the crown share a common notion of queenship or recognize their own membership in a privileged group? Throughout medieval Europe the most salient images of queenship were those of wife, mother, and intercessor, familiar to the general population through Biblical and literary sources. This essay suggests that medieval Mediterranean queens were, in fact, aware of the power and influence that their role as intercessor afforded them. Two texts composed by the Aragonese queen Violant de Bar are used to shed light on a notion of queenship seemingly understood by her contemporaries, both male and female. The proemi or prologue of the queen's address on judicial reform to the Catalano-Aragonese corts generals of 1388- 1389 and a lengthy letter (1421) to queen Marfa of Castile reference the responsibilities of the queen in mediating tensions and hostilities between the king and his rivals. From these documents, one gleans that queenship in early fifteenth-century Mediterranean Europe appears to have been viewed by its practitioners as a divinely-appointed office that entailed grave responsibility, as well as influence, by means of its emphasis on intercession.
This article is from Catalan Review 20 (2006): 211. Posted with permission.