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Extraordinary Women of the Middle Ages

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  • Heloise, prelate nullius (c.1101 - c.1164)
    Not the wife of Sir William de Molins, 1st Lord of Sefton Héloïse [c. 1100–01?[1] – 16 May 1163–64?), variously Héloïse d'Argenteuil or Héloïse du Paraclet, was a French nun, philosopher, writer, sc...
  • Almodis de La Marche, countess consort of Toulouse & Barcelona, dame of Lusignan (c.1020 - 1071)
    Not to be confused with her niece, known as Almodis de La Marche, who married Roger "le Poitevin' de Montgommery.===Almodis de la Marche===From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia * Hugh V of Lusignan* P...
  • Photo by Evelyn Simak, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0.
    Alice Knyvett (1418 - aft.1490)
    Alice Lynne1,2,3,4 F, #27474, d. after 1 January 1490 Father William Lynne, Esq.2,3,4 Mother Alice Stokes3,4 b. c 1390 Alice Lynne was born at of Norfolk, England Family . She married John ...
  • Beatrice of Savoy (bef.1223 - bef.1259)
    - ) BEATRIX de Savoie (before 4 Mar 1223-10 May before 1259). The marriage contract between "Alaxiam comitissam Saluciarum et Manfredum marchionem Saluciarum eius nepotem" and "Thomam comitem Maurianæ…...
  • Alice Perrers, Royal Mistress (c.1348 - bef.1401)
    Alice Perrers was a Mistress of King Edward III, of England. It should be noted that that Alice became the Mistress of Edward after his beloved wife had been terminally ill for some time. WGA GGS o...

Here we profile women who lived during the Medieval Period whose life stories were extraordinary: strong, brave, powerful, enduring women who faced challenges and hardships with passion and courage. Not only did these women leave a mark on history, but they were our ancestresses as well.

The historical period for inclusion is broad and is roughly from about 500 to 1500 C.E. We will include women from many different cultures as well. Each profile should include a narrative that tells the story of the woman and illustrates why she was extraordinary.

If you would like to nominate an extraordinary medieval woman for this project, please Follow this project and then you may go to the profile page and under More Actions/Projects you may add her.

Medieval Woman of Europe who held titles in suo iure (in their own right, not by marriage)

Suo jure or suo iure is a Latin phrase meaning "in her [or his] own right".

It is commonly encountered in the context of titles of nobility, especially in cases where a wife may hold a title in her own right rather than through her marriage.

A queen in her own right is termed a queen regnant.

Jure uxoris is a Latin term that means "by right of his wife" or "in right of a wife".[1] It is commonly used to refer to a title held by a man whose wife holds it in her own right. In other words, he acquired the title simply by being her husband.

The husband of an heiress became the possessor of her lands and titles jure uxoris, "by right of [his] wife". In the Middle Ages, this was invariably true even for queens regnant and princesses regnant. Accordingly, the husband of the reigning female monarch became monarch. This was a very common situation in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, that existed during the Crusades, so many monarchs acceded to the throne after marrying the queen heir: Fulk, King of Jerusalem, Guy of Lusignan, Conrad of Montferrat, Henry II, Count of Champagne and Amalric II of Jerusalem.

In the other hand, during the crisis in the Kingdom of Hungary after the death in the fourteenth century of the King Louis I of Hungary, Sigismund of Luxembourg married Mary of Hungary, the daughter of the dead monarch, obtaining the crown through his wife. After the death of Sigismund the same occurred, the Duke Albert II of Habsburg married the King's daughter Elizabeth of Luxembourg, and through her he inherited the throne of Hungary.

In some cases, the king thus ascended, remained king even after the death of the wife, and in some cases left the kingdom to their own heirs who were not issue of the wife in question (cf. Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland, who ascended as husband of Queen Jadwiga). In the event of a divorce between a reigning female monarch and her husband, the husband would remain the monarch and the wife could lose her status. One example of this is when Marie of Boulogne and Matthew I of Boulogne were divorced in 1170. Marie ceased to be Countess, while Matthew I continued to reign until 1173.

(For more information, see the source of this material on jure uxoris at

List of Peerages Inherited by Daughters

11th & 12th Century

Hildegarde Bingen 1098 - 1179

14th century

{|Class="wikitable" align="center" |- ! Date inherited !! Date of death</br><small>or other loss of title</small> !! Title !! Name !! Other titles !! Preceded in title by |- | 21 October 1314 || 19 October 1356 || 2nd Baron Geneville|Baroness Geneville || Joan de Geneville, 2nd Baroness Geneville|Joan de Geneville Mortimer || Earl of March|Countess of March</br><small>by marriage</small> || Geoffrey de Geneville, grandfather |- | 6 June 1333 || 10 December 1363 || 4th Earl of Ulster|Countess of Ulster || Elizabeth de Burgh, 4th Countess of Ulster|Elizabeth de Burgh Plantagenet || Duke of Clarence|Duchess of Clarence</br><small>by marriage</br>1362-1363</small> || William Donn de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster|William de Burgh, father |- | 26 December 1352 || 7 August 1385 || 4th Earl of Kent|Countess of Kent</br>5th Baron Wake of Liddell|Baroness Wake of Liddell || Joan of Kent|Joan Plantagenet Montacute Holland || Earl of Salisbury|Countess of Salisbury</br><small>by marriage 1341-1349</small> || John, 3rd Earl of Kent|John Plantagenet, brother |}

15th century

{|Class="wikitable" align="center" |- ! Date inherited !! Date of death</br><small>or other loss of title</small> !! Title !! Name !! Other titles !! Preceded in title by |- | 1425
<small>1437 de facto</small> || 1458 || Mormaer of Lennox|Countess of Lennox
<small>Peerage of Scotland</small></br> || Isabella, Countess of Lennox|Isabella || Duke of Albany|Duchess of Albany
<small>by marriage</br>1420-1425</small> || Donnchadh, Earl of Lennox|Donnchadh, father |- | 30 December 1460 || rowspan=2 | 12 May 1529 || 7th Baron Harington|Baroness Harington
<small>Peerage of England</small></br> || rowspan=2 | Cecily Bonville, 7th Baroness Harington|Cecily Bonville Grey Stafford || rowspan=2 | Marquess of Dorset|Marchioness of Dorset
<small>by first marriage</small>
Earl of Wiltshire|Countess of Wiltshire
<small>by second marriage</small> || William Bonville, 6th Baron Harington|William Bonville, father |- | 18 February 1461 || 2nd Baron Bonville|Baroness Bonville
<small>Peerage of England</small></br> || William Bonville, 1st Baron Bonville|William Bonville, great-grandfather |- | 16 July 1491 || 27 August 1507 || 3rd Baron Herbert|Baroness Herbert
<small>Peerage of England</small></br> || Elizabeth Somerset, 3rd Baroness Herbert|Elizabeth Herbert Somerset || || William Herbert, father |}

List of Peerages Created FOR Women

This wikipedia information only includes the British Isles.

This is a list of peerages created for women in the peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, or the United Kingdom. It does not include peerages created for men which were later inherited by women, or life peerages created since 1958.

Prior to the regular creation of life peerages, the great majority of peerages were created for men. Suo jure peeresses are known from an early period; however, most of them were women to whom a peerage had passed as an inheritance. It was very rare for a woman to be created a peeress before the 17th century. Peeresses, whether by creation or inheritance, did not take seats in the House of Lords; and in some but not all cases, peeresses of first creation were created for Pre-1876 Life Peerages|life only.

Created peeresses fall into the following categories:

  • Created for merit or achievement
  • Having a father who was a peer, but who under the terms of the peerage could not pass the peerage to his daughter. Such an event could create the anomalous situation of commoners holding important lands and estates traditionally associated with lordship.
  • Closely connected to a reigning monarch (including many royal mistresses)
  • Created to honor a relative, including:
    • As a posthumous honor for a dead husband, often one who would have received a peerage if he had not died
    • To honor a husband who was living, but could not or would not accept a peerage in his own right
    • To confer nobility upon the peeress's children, again often in recognition of the achievement of a husband

The peerages are listed chronologically, divided by the monarch who created them.

Richard II

{| class="wikitable" !|Date !!| Title !!| Recipient !!|Current status !!| Notes |- | 1397 || Duke of Norfolk|Duchess of Norfolk
<small>Peerage of England</small> || Margaret, Duchess of Norfolk|Margaret, Countess of Norfolk || Extinct on death of recipient 24 March 1399. || For life only. |}

Henry VIII

{| class="wikitable" !|Date !!| Title !!| Recipient !!|Current status !!| Notes |- | 1532 || Marquess of Pembroke|Lady Marquess of Pembroke
<small>Peerage of England</small> || Anne Boleyn || Forfeited upon conviction for treason 15 May 1536. || Second wife of Henry VIII of England|Henry VIII. |}

Sources that may be useful

Internet sources: Foundation for Medieval Genealogy Medieval Lands Project

Additional Reading

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