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Response to Review of Anna of Denmark and Henrietta Maria: Virgins, Witches, and Catholic Queens

I would like to thank Aidan Norrie for this thoughtful, intelligent review of my recent book. I appreciate Norrie’s warm reception of the book, and I look forward to the continued growth of the scholarly conversation concerning the role of queens consort. Although historians of the early modern period have spent much time writing about early modern sovereign queens, they have tended to overlook queens consort. While Norrie rightly points out the talented scholars who are currently exploring the lives and impact of the queens consort, there is still much work to do. As scholars, we have only begun to engage the question of what impact these queens had on politics, culture, and the arts.

Despite the importance of the queen consort to the continuation of dynasty, popular biographers and even scholars often ignore or minimize her contributions. One reason for this historical neglect is the obvious fact that the consort’s purpose to the monarchy rests largely on her fertility. As such, scholars and biographers tend to discuss queens consort in terms of the domestic – sexuality, fertility, and intercessory roles, and, when scholars discuss the rituals of rule, they tend to privilege those rituals connected to power. This omission proves significant, for fertility and the domestic space prove essential to the continuation and performance of dynasty. Further, as Norrie points out, queens consort also exercise real power – as both Catherine of Aragon and Catherine Parr did when they served as regents for King Henry VIII while he was in France.

Norrie’s main concern with the book is the omission of James and Anna’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth (later Queen of Bohemia). While I mention Elizabeth briefly at the beginning of my discussion of Shakespeare’s romances, I ended up removing a section of the book that considered Anna’s role in Princess Elizabeth’s marriage negotiations. I made the decision to excise that section of the text because parts of it felt tangential. However, in hindsight, I completely agree with Norrie’s assertion that doing so was a mistake. As Norrie points out, omitting discussion of the relationship between Anna and her daughter weakens my discussion of the procreative role of the queens. I might add that Norrie’s concern also holds for Henrietta Maria’s children, whom I could have spent more time discussing.

Again, I want to thank Norrie for this well-written, intelligent review.