Ottonian queenship

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This is the first major study in English of the queens of the Ottonian dynasty (919–1024). The Ottonians, a family from Saxony, 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, ruling as kings and emperors in Germany and Italy and exerting indirect hegemony in France and Eastern Europe. Historians have long noted that Ottonian queens were peculiarly powerful—indeed, among the most powerful of the entire Middle Ages. Their reputations have been commemorated for a thousand years in art, literature, and opera. This book offers an original interpretation of Ottonian queenship via 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. Ottonian queenship has to be understood as a feature in a broader landscape, and its history is intimately connected with the unfolding story of the royal dynasty. The book 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.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages247
ISBN (Electronic)9780192520494
ISBN (Print)9780198800101
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2017


  • Ottonian
  • Cunigunde
  • Adelheid
  • Theophanu
  • Otto I
  • German history
  • Early medieval
  • Consors regni
  • Queenship
  • Carolingian


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