2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Interdisciplinary

A Bishop, A Queen, and the Mouth of Hell: The Gendered Politics of the Winchester Psalter
Jill D. Hamilton
Dr. Christine Harker and Dr. Julia DeLancey, Faculty Mentors

As cultural artifacts, medieval books reveal both the religious traditions behind their images and texts and the uniqueness of specific contexts and patrons. The twelfth-century Winchester Psalter reflects the intersection of patronage and politics in its folio 39 hell mouth image, where a crowned woman appears among the damned. While both crowned men and tonsured figures were commonplace within such hell mouths, or beastly representations of hell, a queen demonstrates the placement of female sovereignty on an equal plane with kingship, even in damnation. An explanation for the queen may be found in the Psalter’s historical context through an examination of the views of the patron, Bishop Henry of Blois, toward Maud, the heir of the Anglo-Norman throne bereft of her position by Henry’s brother. Ultimately, the hell mouth’s queen invokes the question of an identifiable historical figure and opens the larger issue of gender’s position in the Anglo-Norman succession.

Keywords: Anglo-Norman England, Winchester Psalter, Henry of Blois, Medieval manuscripts

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 35-1
Location: OP 2111
Time: 2:15

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