Medb Lehtderg, Queen of Leinster

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Records for Maedhbh Leathdearg

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Maedhbh Leathdearg

Birthdate: (61)
Birthplace: Tara,,Meath,Ireland
Death: circa 230 (57-65)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Conann Cualann and NN Cualann

Managed by: Esther ROWE Irish
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Medb Lehtderg, Queen of Leinster

PREFACE

Many, perhaps even most. Old frish scholars have long regarded Queen Medb[Mayv] of Cormacht a purely fictional and mythological character, with little or norelation to the historical environment of the medieval Ireland that produced themanuscripts containing the Ulster Cycle (ca. eightii through twelfth centuries CE). Formany scholars, especially those of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Medbas a queen and military leader is an historical impossibility and fictional anomaly. Other scholars in the early twentieth century (and still today) insist that Medb is a clear deity -a goddess of sovereignty - in order to counter the moralistic attitudes expressed by early translators and scholars, who described Medb's actions as shocking and inappropriate to her gender.

Medb became my primary focus in this study because of her unique status in the Old Irish Ulster Cycle, a group of tales written dovra, most likely, by Christian monastic

scribes between the eighth and twelfth centuries. Other than the battle-goddess The Morrigan, Medb appears as a primary figure in more separate tales and interacts v^th

more of the primary male figures than any other female character in the tales. She also has the unique role of being a ruler in her own right, not simply presented as an

appendage to a powerfiil male ruler, and she makes independent decisions that others follow, placing her on the same "active" level as several of the male characters in the

tales. Additionally, she is a fully sexual being, one who often makes the first overtures, and is not "pimished" in the fraditional maimer of many female characters in medieval

tales. This is the case in all tales in which she appears except for her anomalous death tale, dating from ca. mid-twelfth century, and which can only be read as a blatant and

deliberate character assassination. Although an in-depth analysis of Medb's death tale is

beyond the scope of this study, I do discuss it briefly in Chapter V.

Furthermore, this study provides a reading of Medb across many tales, offering a comparative picture of her character and personality. Her character shows remarkable

consistency in her actions and personality that cannot unquestionably be categorized as negative or attributed to an obvious misogynistic intent on the part of the monastic

commimity, in spite of the insistence of many scholars to the confrary. My research into Old frish scholarship has shown that criticism and analysis of Medb have been focused

primarily on her role in the Tain Bo Cuailnge [The Cattle Raid of Cooley], the central literary epic of the Ulster Cycle; therefore, this study presents a more complete picture of

her character across the tales.

The Ulster Cycle is made up of the central epic the Tain Bo Cuailnge and several pre- and post-tales that tell the story of the rivalry between the provinces of Ulster in the north and Connacht in the west. Conchobor is king of Ulster and was first husband to Medb, queen of Connacht.

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Medb Lehtderg, Queen of Leinster's Timeline

169
169
Tara,,Meath,Ireland
230
230
Age 61