Royal and Elite Households in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

More than Just a Castle


Volume Editor:
In this volume, the authors bring fresh approaches to the subject of royal and noble households in medieval and early modern Europe. The essays focus on the people of the highest social rank: the nuclear and extended royal family, their household attendants, noblemen and noblewomen as courtiers, and physicians. Themes include financial and administrative management, itinerant households, the household of an imprisoned noblewoman, blended households, and cultural influence. The essays are grounded in sources such as records of court ceremonial, economic records, letters, legal records, wills, and inventories. The authors employ a variety of methods, including prosopography, economic history, visual analysis, network analysis, and gift exchange, and the collection is engaged with current political, sociological, anthropological, gender, and feminist theories.

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Theresa Earenfight, Professor of History at Seattle University, is author of Queenship in Medieval Europe (2013), The King’s Other Body (2010), and editor of Queenship and Political Power in Medieval and Early Modern Spain (2005).
"The editor's introduction and sixteen papers offer a rich variety of approaches to the announced topic. [...] an impressive collection of serious work on a subject fully meriting our consideration. Editor and contributors have served us well". Joel T. Rosenthal, Sixteenth Century Journal, 2019.

"As economic and administrative units “quite distinct from those of peasants, the gentry, and townspeople", royal and aristocratic households are critical to understanding politics in local, regional, international, intergenerational, and gendered contexts (Earenfight 3). The sixteen essays in the volume, ranging from the ninth to the mid-sixteenth century, deepen understandings of state-building processes and politics from a variety of perspectives: institutional, economic, cultural, gendered, and familial. The volume will be a valuable resource to political historians working on courts and gender.[...] It is an important contribution to new directions in the field of political history". Silvia Z. Mitchell, in Renaissance Quarterly, 73 (2), pp. 650-651.

List of Figures and Tables
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: Personal Relations, Political Agency, and Economic Clout in Medieval and Early Modern Royal and Elite Households
Theresa Earenfight
1 Domina et Fidelibus Eius: Elite Households in Tenth-Century Francia and Anglo-Saxon England
Megan Welton
2 Maintaining Elite Households in Germany and Italy, 900-1115: Finances, Control, and Patronage
Penelope Nash
3 Æthelings and their Entourages in Late Anglo-Saxon England: The Households, Retinues and Networks of Two Sons of King Æthelred the Unready
David McDermott
4 Joan de Valence and Her Household: Domesticity, Management, and Organization in Transition from Wife to Widow
Linda E. Mitchell
5 Eleanor of Brittany in Confinement: Problematizing Paradigms of the Household for Royal Prisoners
Eileen Kim
6 “All my frendys fro me thei flee”: The Disgraced and Unstable Household of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester
Sally Fisher
7 Serving Isabella of France: From Queen Consort to Dowager Queen
Caroline Dunn
8 Political Power-Brokers in the Fifteenth Century English Royal Household
Alexander Brondarbit
9 “Our Servants Say Scandalous Things about You:” Royal Households in the Fourteenth-Century Crown of Aragon
Alana Lord
10 Love, Calumnies, Murders, War, Ambition, and Survival at the Court of King Fernando and Queen Leonor Teles of Portugal (1367-1384)
Isabel de Pina Baleiras
11 The Portuguese Household of an English Queen: Sources, Purposes, Social Meaning (1387-1415)
Manuela Santos Silva
12 Royal Household and Political Parties: The Configuration of Ferdinand the Catholic’s Entourage in Castile (1469-1516)
Germán Gamero Igea
13 Rocking the Cradle and Ruling the World: Queens’ Households in Late Medieval and Early Modern Aragon and France
Zita Rohr
14 A Precarious Household: Catherine of Aragon in England, 1501-1504
Theresa Earenfight
15 There and Back Again: The Hospitality and Consumption of a Sixteenth-Century English Travelling Household
Audrey M. Thorstad
16 The Households of Portuguese infantesin Avis Dynasty: Formation and Autonomy of Alternative Centers of Power in the Sixteenth Century
Hélder Carvalhal


Scholars and advanced students of medieval and early modern monarchy, nobility, households, and families, particularly those interested in how networks of power influence the operations of politics and monarchy.
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