TitleGender, Nobility, Agency, and Power
Date/TimeThursday 7 July 2022: 09.00-10.30
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairVanessa Jane King, Department of History, Classics & Archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London
Paper 1508-a Petitioning, Intercession, Action: Elite Women's Agency and Power within the Political Framework of the 11th-Century Byzantine Empire
(Language: English)
Ewan William Richard Short, Faculty of Arts, Radboud University / School of History, Archaeology & Religion, Cardiff University
Index Terms: Byzantine Studies; Gender Studies; Politics and Diplomacy; Women's Studies
Paper 1508-b As Much a Woman as a Man: Gender and the Limits of Nobility in 15th-Century Castile
(Language: English)
Loreto Romero, Magdalen College, University of Oxford
Index Terms: Gender Studies; Language and Literature - Spanish or Portuguese; Sexuality
AbstractPaper -a:
This paper examines the integration of elite women into the 11th-century Byzantine political system as recipients of and respondents to petitions. It responds to a call by Ruth Macrides for a more systematic study of petition in Byzantium, which has only been partly been met. This paper asks whether elite women exercised power in 11th-century Byzantium on a regular and widely accepted basis, building on the latest research on women and power in the medieval west, spearheaded by the 'beyond exceptionalism' project. The argument of the paper turns on a comparison of letters written by Michael Psellos, shedding light on the power of the empress Aikaterine, and the elite non-imperial woman Anna Radene. Psellos' letters were recently published for the first time in a complete edition by Stratis Papaioannou.

Paper -b:
In a semblance of Cardinal Pedro de Frías included in his Generaciones y semblanzas (ca. 1450), Fernán Pérez de Guzmán derisively remarks that 'in his speech and the movement of his body as well as the meekness and sweetness of his words he looked as much a woman as a man'. This presentation discusses Pérez de Guzmán's capitalisation on gendering in order to pinpoint the intangible boundaries that separate nobles of ancient descent and upstarts. The rhetorical deployment of gender in Generaciones y semblanzas sheds new light on the links between queerness and community formation at the end of the Middle Ages.