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Reviews 279 know Old English); and I think it would be worth the effort, in terms of potentiaUy increased readership, to try to simplify some of the more technical passages (though this would not be easy). It would be wonderful ii the second edition became the kind of book that one could read in the bath. T. L. Burton Department of EngUsh University of Adelaide Stafford, Pauline, Queen Emma and Queen Edith: Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England, Oxford, Blackwell, 1997; cloth; pp. 384; R.R.P. £34.95. The stories of Queen Emma and Queen Edith are satisfyingly rich in the telling in Pauline Stafford's latest book, Queen Emma and Queen Edith. The sources which provide these riches are varied and Stafford's use of them masterly; chronicles, legal documents, queenmaking rites are among the most important of these materials, and of course, there are the documents prepared under the oversight of the two queens themselves, the Encomium Emmae Reginae and the Vita JEdwardi. It is unlikely that the political roles or power of E m m a and Edith were extraordinary, but what is exceptional is both the production of these two highly personalised works, which provide us with so many queenly insights, and then their survival. Stafford approaches her material in three different ways, and presents these in three dtfferent Sections which show both the problems inherent in researching the period, especially when trying to locate women's experience, and the possibilities for recreating such experience from the existing sources. Events are reconstructed and characters delineated not only from documents and events but also by drawing on contemporary ideology. The structures which governed the roles of the queen and the nature of queenship in the period are explored in fine detaU. Stafford reassesses late Anglo-Saxon royal-famUial power structures and then locates these two queens within those structures, assigning them both highly politicised roles. Each of the three Sections of the book is devoted to one approach 280 Reviews to the sources and the careers of E m m a and Edith. The first Section concentrates on the sources themselves, how they may be interpreted, and how they may have been written to compromise or enhance the reputations of the two queens. The second Section, by far the largest, examines elements of queenly power—personality, marriage, ritual inauguration, motherhood, property and patronage, court parties, widowhood—and how these attributes were enhanced and exploited by both women, hi the third Section, Stafford endeavours to add to the hare skeletons' of the contemporary narratives for both queens and by using the evidence and ideas she has carefully built up throughout the f i r s t two Sections to put 'flesh on their bones'. These reconstructed biographies are by no means exhaustive but are sufficientlyfleshed-outto paint surprisingly detailed lives for both women. This process guides the reader through the contemporary evidence and shows very clearly the processes necessary to reclaim the lives even of significant, politically active women from this period. Any criticisms which can be made of this work are only on matters of detaU. I t seems a pity for a historian who is so familiar with the period and i t s sources to perpetuate the mistranslation of the cognomen of /Ethelred I I as 'Unready', adding to the unfortunate reputation of this 'ill-advised' king. I t is also interesting that in any discussion of the Encomium Emmae Stafford makes no reference to Emma's reticence concerning her f i r s t marriage: i t seems strange that though E m m a is described as a queen prior to her marriage with Cnut her fust royal husband is ignored and the only reference to ^thelred i s as the anonymous prince who defended London from Cnut's army. W h y does she seem to pretend that this prince, who had been her husband and the man who had given her the position which made her so desirable to the new, conquering king, was so inconsequential? The queen-making rites of the tenth and eleventh centuries are long overdue for detailed consideration and in this work they...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 279-281
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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