Medieval Studies Research Group Seminar Series – January
Thursday 11 January 2024 5-6pm
Cargill Lecture Theatre (Minerva Building, MB0302)
Depictions of a Medieval Queen: The Unexpected Coinage of Urraca of León-Castile (r. 1109-1126)
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Speaker: Dr. Therese Martin (CCHS-Instituto de Historia)
My presentation takes a renewed look at Urraca of León-Castile through the medium of five different coin types with her ‘portrait’ that were produced over the course of her seventeen-year reign. Heretofore unknown coins have recently been published by numismatists, which together shed fresh light on the complex picture of Urraca as reigning queen. I assess the visual and material evidence together with textual sources to understand the reasons behind the minting of multiple portrait-types coins. In doing so, Urraca both broke with the past and established a pattern that would be followed by her successors. I argue that Urraca’s portrait coins allow us more direct access to her ambitions as ruler, without the intermediation of father, son, or consorts, in a way that an examination of the textual sources alone has not been able to achieve.
Bio: Therese Martin is a Senior Researcher and head of the Department of Medieval Studies at the Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC) in Madrid. She has held Fulbright, Mellon, de Montêquin, Kress, Getty, and CASVA fellowships in support of her research on the intersections of medieval Iberia’s multiple cultures, women’s involvement with art and architecture in the central Middle Ages, and Romanesque construction and decoration. Her prize-winning publications include “Crouching Crossbowmen in Early Twelfth-Century Sculpture: A Nasty, Brutish, and Short(-Lived) Iconography,” Gesta (2015), and “The Margin to Act: A Framework of Investigation for Women’s (and Men’s) Medieval Art-Making,” in ‘Me fecit.’ Making Medieval Art (History), a special issue she edited of the Journal of Medieval History (2016). She is the author of Queen as King: Politics and Architectural Propaganda in Twelfth-Century Spain (Brill, 2006), and the editor of The Medieval Iberian Treasury in the Context of Cultural Interchange, Expanded Edition (Brill, 2020, open access: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004424593) and of Reassessing the Roles of Women as ‘Makers’ of Medieval Art and Architecture (Brill, 2012; paperback 2015). The latter publication resulted from a project of the same name, funded by a 1.2 million euro European Research Council Starting Grant (2010-2015). Her recent Spanish nationally funded research projects include “The Medieval Treasury across Frontiers and Generations” (2016-2018), and “The Medieval Iberian Treasury in Context” (2019-2022). A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, she previously served on the Editorial Board of Gesta, as an International Associate to the Board of Directors of the International Center of Medieval Art, and as a Councillor of the Medieval Academy of America. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies.
Story submitted by Renee Ward