For all the books written about the Crusades, one aspect is conspicuously absent: the stories of women. Queens of Jerusalem: The Women Who Dared to Rule by Katherine Pangonis tells the story of an extraordinary, trailblazing dynasty of royal women who ruled the medieval Middle East (or Outremer), and how they persevered through instability to seize greater power.
The queens and princesses of this period have been regarded by historians as little more than transmitters of lands and broodmares for the next generation of kings. They have been remembered as the wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters of powerful men. But the instability and near constant state of crisis in the Crusader States of Outremer from 1099 to Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187 created a unique environment in which noble-born women in Jerusalem, Antioch, Tripoli, and Edessa could be propelled to prominence.
Queen Melisende was the first queen to seize political agency in Jerusalem and rule in her own right. She outmaneuvered both her husband and son to seize real power in her kingdom and was a force to be reckoned with in the politics of the medieval Middle East. The lives of her granddaughter Queen Sibylla, her Armenian mother, her three sisters, and their daughters and granddaughters were no less intriguing. They represented a major force in the politics of the medieval Middle East, ruling, conducting diplomatic negotiations, making military decisions, forging alliances, rebelling, and undertaking architectural projects.
Queens of Jerusalem is a stunning debut by a rising historian and a rich revisionist history of the medieval Middle East. This book brings the Queens of Jerusalem, Princesses of Antioch, and Countesses of Tripoli and Edessa out of the shadows and into the public eye. They represent some of the most daring, devious, and devoted women history has ever seen.
“The subjects of this important and inspiring book have regularly been resigned to the footnotes of history. But the Queens of Jerusalem are history-makers, game-changers. Delight in their company in this seminal and scintillating debut.”Bettany Hughes
“A complex historical narrative that celebrates female agency and a tale of family intrigue spanning generations, this book sheds light on the silenced women of a fascinating medieval bloodline.”Kirkus Reviews
About the Author:
Katherine Pangonis is a historian specializing in the medieval world of the Mediterranean and Middle East. She holds MA degrees in literature and history from Oxford University and University College London.
She has a particular interest in rewriting the voices of women into the historical narrative, re-examining understudied areas of history and bringing her findings into the public eye.
Connect with Katherine on Twitter (@Katie_Pangonis)