Elena Crislyn Woodacre
Doctor of Philosophy, Bath Spa University, July (2011)
Although the queens of Navarre form the largest group of female sovereigns ruling in one kingdom during the Middle Ages, they have not been subject to intensive academic study. Outside of works on regional political history and limited biographical study, these important women have been widely overlooked by scholars, particularly those working in English. They have never been subject to comparative analysis nor have they been examined in the context of female rule. This thesis addresses this gap in scholarship by investigating the careers of each of the five ruling queens of Navarre: Juana I (1274-1305), Juana II (1328- 1349), Blanca I (1425-1441), Leonor (1479) and Catalina (1482-1512). Particular emphasis is given in three key areas; succession to the throne, matrimonial alliances made for and by the queens and their personal and political partnership with their kings consort.
By surveying all of the female sovereigns of Navarre, from the accession of the first queen in 1274 to the Annexation of the kingdom by neighbouring Castile in 1512, it is possible to evaluate both continuity and change and the overall development of queenship in the realm during this turbulent period. This approach also allows trends in the relative ease or difficulty of female succession, shifts in foreign policy and matrimonial diplomacy and power sharing strategies between monarchal pairs to be thoroughly assessed. Finally, the impact of female rule and the role these sovereigns played in the ultimate loss of sovereignty in 1512 can be evaluated.