Medieval women in charge

The current issue of Medieval World: Culture & Conflict looks at the roles of women as artists, fighters, leaders, and patrons in the Middle Ages, underscoring their impact in different contexts, ranging from courtly settings to military orders. The image selected for the cover shows the early Byzantine Empress Ariadne (ca. 455–515) ornately carved in ivory. The object is preserved in the collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. We thank the museum for the generous permission to publish this image on the cover of the third issue of the magazine.  

In this ivory, Empress Ariadne is extravagantly dressed in royal attire and sits frontally on a bejeweled throne. This small object eloquently captures her presence and power, although the details of her life and deeds remain elusive, like those of many other medieval women. 

The theme-related content of this issue includes: 

  • Gabrielle Storey, "Queenship and Power: The Roles of Royal Women in the Global Middle Ages," 18-22. 
  • Peter Konieczny, "The Superstar of Baghdad: A Tale of Singing, Sexuality, and Slavery," 23.
  • Thomas Lockley, "The Killer and the Queen: Two Women Warriors of Medieval Japan," 24-27.
  • Rory MacLellan, "Women in the Military Orders: Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights," 28-35.
  • Susana Torres Prieto, "Anna Porphyrogenita: A Byzantine Empress at the Rusian Court," 36-39.
  • Rileigh K. Clarke, "Memorializing Margaret Holland: A Strategic and Visual Display of Identity," 40-41. 
  • Jessica O'Leary, "Eleonora and Beatrice of Aragon: Princesses of Diplomacy in the Late Middle Ages," 42-47. 

In addition, this issue features two inaugural special columns. The first is on medieval heraldry, with an article by Thomas Banbury, titled "Showing Your Colours: Royal Equestrian Heraldry." It examines the equestrian armorial of the King of England in the Grand Equestrian Armorial of the Golden Fleece, a manuscript begun in the 1430s for Duke Phillip of Burgundy.

The second special column features reviews. Julia Faiers has reviewed the recent exhibition at the British Library - GOLD: 50 SPECTACULAR MANUSCRIPTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD (20 May–2 October 2022). Some of the wonderful objects featured in this exhibition appear in the magazine as well!   

If you would like to see other exhibitions on medieval topics featured in future issues of Medieval World: Culture & Conflict in our new "Reviews" section, get in touch.

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