The difficult life of the queen: What did the ideal queen look like and what shaped her?

The difficult life of the queen: What did the ideal queen look like and what shaped her?
The difficult life of the queen: What did the ideal queen look like and what shaped her?

Every queen was primarily a woman, and they did not have it easy in the Middle Ages. The reason for their inferiority can already be found in the biblical book of Genesis. According to her, in short, Eve seduced Adam and thus closed the gates of paradise to humanity. Her sin was then inherited by all her daughters, who therefore have to pay for it.

The apple game

A certain dislike of the opposite sex is already evident in Paul of Tarsus as the author of the letters contained in the New Testament. And what did he start Saint Augustine he finished Otherwise, an intelligent and sensitive author in his own right Confession he discusses at length how his mate hindered his path to salvation, as well as his sinful desires. On the Paul-Augustin axis, the conviction arose that behind all evil it is necessary to look for a woman.

The female members of the fairer sex felt this philosophy literally and figuratively on their own bodies. Contemporary historian Jacques Rossiaud it sums it up in the words: “A man goes to a woman as he goes to stool: to satisfy a certain need,” The common speech of workers and craftsmen from the 14th century, which has cute turns like “jump her” whose “arrange”.

Moon Curse

In this concept, a woman does not even participate in the creation of a child. It is only a vessel in which the offspring will grow up. However, what bothers her the most is the fact that she is menstruating. For example, leprosy in a child was explained by the fact that the parents did not abstain from sexual intercourse during the period of the woman’s “uncleanness”.

Quite possibly, however, this fear has its roots elsewhere. At a time when the male and female worlds were much more separated, the fair sex must have been seen as a very special creature. The baby whimpered in the cradle, the father heard only a tearful wail, but the mother immediately knew if he was hungry or needed to be changed. The world of women was mysterious, intuitive and no wonder it inspired a certain awe. After that, it was easy to believe that these strange creatures also perform a whole range of magical practices, for example to control men more easily. And the refined imagery also offered specific recipes.
A wife who wanted to enslave her partner was supposed to buy a live fish and insert it into her vagina. When the animal was ready, it was enough to prepare it for its mate, and he became an obedient puppet after eating it.

Humble Saint

But let’s go back to children, because their birth was the main female task, especially for queens. We know several cases from history when the monarch got rid of his wife because of her infertility. For example “iron and gold” Přemysl Otakar II. pushed away Markéta Babenberská after an eight-year childless union. Almost all medieval women felt this pressure, and we can clearly see its reverberations in songs, legends and folk literature. Even the Bible is clear in this regard: if the Lord wants to punish some “daughter of Eve”, he will lock her womb. The fear of childlessness was almost extreme among queens, as this inability could have far-reaching consequences.

Even success on the delivery bed, which is a variant of a man’s success on the battlefield, did not guarantee any idyll. Many queens suffered separation from their offspring when it was decided that they would be educated away from home. For example Saint Agnes was entrusted to the Cistercian nuns of Třeboň at the age of just three and Princess Drahomíra she had to endure her sons being raised by an unloved mother-in-law.

The chronicles have preserved for us how the ideal queen copes with such a loss. The crowned mother mourns the child’s departure, which he has preserved for us in a particularly suggestive way Petr Žitavský in my The Zbraslav Chronicle. Here he describes how Queen Margaret, the wife of Emperor Henry, lamented the departure of John of Luxembourg:

“Light of mother’s eyes, O thou, my beloved son
my sweet child, surely it is crueler than death
that this is how I should say goodbye to you and that perhaps my eye will never see you in the future!
Ah, death means it to me!’

In addition, the queen is said to have died of grief after her son’s departure.

Modern mothers

However, in her time, Markéta acted as an apparition. With their mother-in-law, they directly interfered in the education of Jan of Luxemburg, which was quite unusual. The “ordinary” queen nursed the baby, and the rest was more or less taken care of by an army of nurses and attendants. At a later age, monastic education or education at another royal court sometimes started. (Here it is enough to recall John’s son Charles IV.) However, this does not mean that the ideal queen did not have a warm relationship with the child (and especially with the sons).

Chronicler Petr Žitavský probably never saw the celebrated Mrs. Markéta, did not know her, and made up her words himself. So when he wrote about her that a pearl of virtue always shone in her mind and that she was free from any guile and became the ornament and mirror of all ladies, he presents his opinion. He directly pretends to us what he thinks the queen should look like.

Beautiful, virtuous, educated

As already stated, the regent was supposed to be a decoration. The two poles of female beauty in the Middle Ages are great-grandmothers Eva and virgin Mary. However, it is a very incongruous pair: a sinner and a saint. Even in this we clearly see the duality of how women were perceived in the Middle Ages. The corrupt great-grandmother is naked in paradise, and the Middle Ages thus discovers the female body through her. On the contrary, in the case of Mary, the object of admiration is the face. So, with a considerable degree of exaggeration, we can say that the ideal queen had the body of the great-grandmother Eve and the face of the Virgin Mary.

Furthermore, the ruler had to be virtuous, because her transgression would cast a bad light not only on her, but also on her husband or son. He expresses it beautifully, for example Phoenicia (Phoenicia) in love with Cligès in the work Chrétien de Troyes:

“I’d rather be broken around
than Isolde and Tristan
maybe remind us of our love.
Their shamelessness scares me
I’m too embarrassed to tell.

I wouldn’t want it for the world
lead the life she led.
Love led her to shame,
the heart had one master
but two masters her body.’

It was possible (for example verbally) to attack a man through a woman’s body. Law books describing the crime of rape have preserved a wide variety of medieval swear words. It is extremely interesting how men insulted each other by verbally attacking the virtue of mothers or wives. Those who wanted to insult a soka often did not say something rude about him, but about a woman close to him.

TIP: Adolescence of the noble: What was the education of a noble in the early modern era like?

The imaginary “last state” of the queen is the widow’s lot. A proper queen should dedicate the rest of her life to the memory of her husband. It was considered even more appropriate when she did not bear her loss, as described by Alexandreida: “Soredamor was so sad that she no longer wished to live and perished with him in grief.” The entire life of a crowned woman was linked to her husband, and as in the case of other women, the husband was to be to the wife what God is to the given man.

what are you reading

One of the unexpected characteristics of an ideal queen is that she should be educated. This is also subtly indicated by the paintings of the Annunciation, where the angel Maria (queen of queens) interrupts the reading. Much will also be indicated by the obviousness with which the regent is needed Eleanor of Aquitaine depicted on her tombstone with a book in her hand.

The article is in Czech

Tags: difficult life queen ideal queen shaped


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