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The Rise of Female Kings in Europe, 1300-1800

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In this lively and pathbreaking book, William Monter sketches Europe's increasing acceptance of autonomous female rulers between the late Middle Ages and the French Revolution. Monter surveys the governmental records of Europe's thirty women monarchs—the famous (Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great) as well as the obscure (Charlotte of Cyprus, Isabel Clara Eugenia In this lively and pathbreaking book, William Monter sketches Europe's increasing acceptance of autonomous female rulers between the late Middle Ages and the French Revolution. Monter surveys the governmental records of Europe's thirty women monarchs—the famous (Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great) as well as the obscure (Charlotte of Cyprus, Isabel Clara Eugenia of the Netherlands)—describing how each of them achieved sovereign authority, wielded it, and (more often than men) abandoned it. Monter argues that Europe's female kings, who ruled by divine right, experienced no significant political opposition despite their gender.


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In this lively and pathbreaking book, William Monter sketches Europe's increasing acceptance of autonomous female rulers between the late Middle Ages and the French Revolution. Monter surveys the governmental records of Europe's thirty women monarchs—the famous (Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great) as well as the obscure (Charlotte of Cyprus, Isabel Clara Eugenia In this lively and pathbreaking book, William Monter sketches Europe's increasing acceptance of autonomous female rulers between the late Middle Ages and the French Revolution. Monter surveys the governmental records of Europe's thirty women monarchs—the famous (Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great) as well as the obscure (Charlotte of Cyprus, Isabel Clara Eugenia of the Netherlands)—describing how each of them achieved sovereign authority, wielded it, and (more often than men) abandoned it. Monter argues that Europe's female kings, who ruled by divine right, experienced no significant political opposition despite their gender.

38 review for The Rise of Female Kings in Europe, 1300-1800

  1. 5 out of 5

    Faith Justice

    I spent my early career working at two major universities and part of that time assisting PhD candidates with their dissertations (primarily crunching data). I recognize the formula when I run across it in academic non-fiction. William Monter tried to fill an empty niche in academic research with his book by analyzing the reigns of thirty women who ruled as kings: jointly with their spouses, singly as heiresses or widows, and married with husbands as subordinate consorts. It's a fascinating arra I spent my early career working at two major universities and part of that time assisting PhD candidates with their dissertations (primarily crunching data). I recognize the formula when I run across it in academic non-fiction. William Monter tried to fill an empty niche in academic research with his book by analyzing the reigns of thirty women who ruled as kings: jointly with their spouses, singly as heiresses or widows, and married with husbands as subordinate consorts. It's a fascinating array of women from the little known St. Jadwiga of Hungary, to Juana "the Mad" of Spain, to the flamboyant cross-dressing Christina of Sweden, to Catherine II the Great of Russia. He sprinkles in a good number of women who ruled as regents which bridge a number of the reigns, but admits, women were a distinct minority during the five hundred years covered. Monter did his research and presents it in a logical straightforward way, which makes the book readable, but on the dull side for the casual reader. Another problem with a "survey" book of research is that it is impossible to get into much depth on any one subject. Each women merits a few pages putting her accomplishments in context, but you must turn to the sources listed in the bibliographic essay at the end to go deeper. This book works as a survey of a niche in history, but it's not gripping. If a historical fiction writer is looking for inspiration, or a history buff wants an introduction to this topic, this is a useful book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    This book's subject matter is really interesting - the first ever comparative study of reigning female monarchs in European history. Unfortunately, Monter's writing style is super-boring. The book combines comparative sections where he draws conclusions about female kings in general with their individual biographies. He has a tendency, when writing comparatively, to talk about rulers without mentioning their names, which makes it hard to keep track of who is who. Ultimately, I learned a lot from This book's subject matter is really interesting - the first ever comparative study of reigning female monarchs in European history. Unfortunately, Monter's writing style is super-boring. The book combines comparative sections where he draws conclusions about female kings in general with their individual biographies. He has a tendency, when writing comparatively, to talk about rulers without mentioning their names, which makes it hard to keep track of who is who. Ultimately, I learned a lot from reading this, but it took me months to push through the whole thing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nate

    It was interesting to read about all the more unknown sovereigns, but it covers a breadth of time that makes it difficult to cover any of them with depth. The lack of depth also makes it a little dry for most people's taste. A lot of this is based on coins and numismatics. The back has some recommendations on further readings where they exist, but this book is kind of like an appetizer to a nonexistent entree because now I want more about some of these women but no English sources exist.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kerrie

    An interesting read about an aspect of European history I'd never come across before - I appreciated the 'survey' structure that gave me just enough information about each princess, regent, queen etc that I could go and chase up more elsewhere if I wanted, but also showed how, as a group, they fit into a pattern of social change. And it's given me a great idea for a novel of my own!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A bit dry and also sometimes confusing, but a worthwhile study of women's roles in power and politics. I was very surprised that he made no study of Elizabeth II. She does not rule, but she reigns and her influence over half a century is not negligible.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    A cool concept, but I found it very dry and difficult to get through.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

  9. 4 out of 5

    Imogen Herrad

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anja

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maja - BibliophiliaDK ✨

  13. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Miller

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Larsen

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cyber

  18. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  19. 4 out of 5

    The Ninja Squirrel

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jo

  22. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  23. 4 out of 5

    Judith

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thismightbejess Viator

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jams

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Orangeblossom

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jon

  31. 5 out of 5

    Gina C.

  32. 4 out of 5

    Lemniskate67

  33. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

  34. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

  36. 4 out of 5

    Esteban

  37. 5 out of 5

    Kylie

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kjell

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