Canterbury Christ Church University is hosting two free public lectures this week on the role that medieval and early modern queens played in diplomatic relations throughout Europe.
The lectures are part of an international conference on the role of Premodern Queenship and Diplomacy in Europe, organised by Canterbury Christ Church University and Lancaster University, which will explore the involvement of queens in policy-making and politics throughout medieval and early modern Europe.
Louise Wilkinson, Professor of Medieval History, and Dr Sara Wolfson, Lecturer in Early Modern History at Christ Church, explained: “Traditionally, female involvement in diplomacy has focused upon the role of queens consort as pawns within marriage alliances and military treaties, or the foreign policy agenda of queens regnant. However, queens in the medieval and early modern period were central to developing international relations; promoting certain policies and people and balancing the intricacies of European politics. These women could act not only independently of male influence, but also on behalf of their own personal dynastic interests, placing them sometimes at odds with their marital allegiance.
“The conference and public lectures reflect the recent media interest in the influence that queens have had in the political history of this country. They will show that diplomacy was not a male-dominated area controlled by the monarch alone. They will also celebrate Canterbury’s links with these remarkable women.”
On Thursday 11 September Professor Jackie Eales, Canterbury Christ Church University, will be discussing Queenship in the Age of the Enraged Chess Queen.
Professor Eales will explore how in the late 15th Century the rules of chess were dramatically changed; as the queen piece was liberated from moving one square a time to being free to range across the entire board in one sweep. She will examine if this new rule change in the game of chess reflected new attitudes towards queenship, or was the female rule of Isabella of Castile and later 16th century queens firmly rooted in medieval precedents.
The next day, Friday 12 September, Dr Glenn Richardson, St Mary’s University, will examine the diplomatic roles, direct and indirect, played by Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn in the lecture: ‘I have performed the office of ambassador as your Highness sent to command’: Diplomacy and the Queens of Henry VIII, 1509-1539.
He will look at how and why Katherine was so important in formulating foreign policy during Henry VIII’s early years as he sought to make a name for himself in Europe, reviewing Katherine’s areas of responsibility and the formal and informal ways in which she expressed her authority as Queen of England in the international sphere.
The lecture will also explore how, as she displaced Katherine in Henry’s affections, Anne Boleyn sought to follow Katherine’s example in order to secure and then maintain her status as the second sovereign lady of his reign.
Both lectures are free, open to all and no booking is required.
Queenship in the Age of the Enraged Chess Queen
Thursday, 11 September, 5.30 – 7pm
Sidney Cooper Gallery, St Peter’s Street, Canterbury CT1 2BQ
‘I have performed the office of ambassador as your Highness sent to command’: Diplomacy and the Queens of Henry VIII, 1509-1539.
Friday, 12 September, 6 – 7.30pm
Powell Lecture Theatre, Canterbury Christ Church University
For more information on the conference Premodern Queenship and Diplomacy in Europe, please visit: www.premodernqueenship.com