Virile Women and Effeminate Men: Gendered Judgements and the Exercise of Power in the Ottonian Empire c. 1000 ce
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Ottonian queens and empresses exercised real political power during minorities and in the absence of kings and emperors. This leads to the question of representations. In fact, Ottonian narrative texts did not hesitate to apply the adjective virilis to women. In the Chronicon of Thietmar von Merseburg, this adjective was ascribed in particular to the protection provided by the empress regnant Theophanu for her young son Otto III. At the same time, Thietmar portrays King Rudolph III of Burgundy as soft and effeminatus. Ottonian writers, men and clerics, represented the relationship between gender and political power, both by focusing on the gendered ideology of power, and by showing how these categories could be manipulated for the defence of specific political ideas or interests.