Melania Trump Plays the Role of Medieval Queen

By Sonja Drimmer

On June 17, First Lady Melania Trump issued a rare statement on current policy through her spokesperson. That statement lamented the separation of refugee children from their parents by the Department of Homeland Security and declared that America should be “a country that governs with heart.” And when, on Wednesday, her husband reversed his policy, White House aides rushed to credit her intervention. “From the start Mrs. Trump has been encouraging the president to do all he can to keep families together,” one official told The Washington Post.

For Melania to emerge from her customary position on the sidelines to play a critical role in reversing a major policy initiative might seem a perplexing event. But for a historian of the Middle Ages, it is part of an instantly recognizable pattern.

A near-constant in late medieval kingship was the use of the queen as intercessor. Women were conventionally ascribed softer hearts, and subjects were encouraged to appeal to the queen for mercy. The template for this role was the Virgin Mary—the paragon of intercession among medieval Christians—who was believed to sit, enthroned in heaven, at the side of her son Christ, able and willing to make appeals to him on behalf of suffering or desperate devotees. Medieval art and medieval texts customarily liken queens to the Virgin Mary, especially in the role of intercessor.

The queen was called upon to play this role habitually during times of political crisis. For example, in 1450, after a popular revolt known as Cade’s Rebellion, King Henry VI sought to end a disastrous event in his reign initially by extending a pardon to its participants. But the pardons might have made him look weak. So, in the preamble to the text of the pardon, he claimed to have been moved to this gesture of clemency …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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