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Title:Practices and performances of queenship: Catherine of Aragon and Margaret Tudor, 1503-1533
Author(s):Beer, Michelle
Director of Research:Hibbard, Caroline M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hibbard, Caroline
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Symes, Carol L.; Crowston, Clare H.; Neal, Derek
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):British History
Scottish History
English History
Henry VIII
James IV
Catherine of Aragon
Margaret Tudor
material culture
court culture
Abstract:This dissertation explores the reigns of two early sixteenth-century queens consort of England and Scotland, Catherine of Aragon (r. 1509-1533) and Margaret Tudor (r. 1503-1513). It examines the responsibilities, rights, duties, and actions of Catherine and Margaret within their sixteenth-century dynastic context, without a teleological focus on the controversies of their later lives. As the first wife of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon has often been portrayed as a pious and ultimately tragic figure whose reign has been overshadowed by her inability to bear a male heir. Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister and queen of James IV, has had her reign continually cast in the shadow of her husband’s tragic early death and her later disastrous career as regent of Scotland. Despite being the common subjects of popular histories, Catherine and Margaret are in fact understudied queens, neither of whom has been the subject of scholarly monographs for over fifty years. This work is the first to consider Catherine and Margaret since the emergence of a robust field of queenship studies, which has combined women’s and gender history with the study of international court culture and politics. This study argues that the particular type of female authority available to queens in monarchical, dynastic regimes must be understood by considering the practices and performances of queenship that allowed queens to accumulate the moral, political, and social capital necessary to act as the public partners of their husbands. In juxtaposing Catherine and Margaret’s reigns, I show that pre-modern queenship shared common challenges, themes, and traditions across borders, while also illuminating how native traditions and personal circumstances could create opportunities and problems for individual queens not encountered by their peers. The first two chapters of this work focus on the financial resources and material culture that formed the basis for important practices of queenship by Catherine and Margaret, including the administration of lands, extension of their presence at court through livery, and participation in gift exchanges, which established them as queens consort and enabled them to extend their patronage at their husbands’ courts. I argue that the resources available to each queen were heavily dependent upon both historical traditions of queenship in England and Scotland, and on the personal circumstances of each woman at her royal court. The final four chapters then show how Catherine and Margaret accumulated social and political capital by successfully performing expected queenly virtues including magnificence, hospitality, patronage, and piety. My dissertation argues that areas traditionally considered problematic for queens—their marital relationships, their foreignness, their dependence—were in fact assets that allowed them to succeed as the public partner of the king. My work expands our understanding of queenship and reassesses the definition of a successful queen consort.
Issue Date:2014-05-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Michelle Beer
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-05-30
Date Deposited:2014-05

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