The lioness roared: The problems of female rule in English history
AuthorBeem, Charles Edward
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation examines a series of specific problems affecting England's queens regnant, which arose because of their gender. As queens regnant fulfilled the office of king, we shall refer to them as female kings, and examine their careers within the context of English kingship. The analysis offered here combines gender analysis with political history to explain how female kings were able to perform a male gendered role. The introduction surveys secondary literature concerned with European kingship and queenship, and gender studies of European women, to create an historical context within which to examine female rule in English history. While this dissertation does not include an original study of the career of Elizabeth I (1558-1603), the introduction demonstrates how gender analysis has transformed current understanding of Elizabeth I's efforts to rule a male dominant state, and seeks to apply this methodology to England's other female rulers: the empress Matilda, "Lady of the English" (1141-1148), Mary I (1553-1558), Anne (1702-1714), and Victoria (1837-1901). The main issue tying these various chapters together is the construction of female sovereignty through time. The changing social and legal status of women over the course of English history affected the strategies by which all these women attempted to mitigate social antagonisms and legal restraints to female rule, a historical problem peculiar to England's female kings. In the second chapter, the empress Matilda's efforts to create a singular identity outside the bonds of marriage are identified for the first time, while in the third chapter, Mary I's efforts to create a viable model of female rulership in her anomalous position as a single woman are explored. The fourth chapter examines the marriage of Queen Anne and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, and suggests how precedent and personality contributed to the further evolution of female kingship. The final chapter revisits Queen Victoria's Bedchamber Crisis of 1939, and suggests how gender affected the outcome of a curious and misunderstood political crisis, offering a unique example of the further evolution of female kingship in British political history.
Degree ProgramGraduate College