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This chapter is the first of three to treat different aspects of Jeanne’s administration to assess how and why the balance of power could vary within a single ruling partnership. It examines the basic material foundations of lordship: land, inheritance, and money, including a survey of the financial challenges in Jeanne and Charles’ rule. It shows that coordination on significant matters was paired with the ability to act independently and more efficiently on lesser transactions. But these shared concerns did not erase distinctions between Jeanne and Charles’ personal responsibilities and status, which influences our understanding of why spousal co-rule functioned so readily in medieval society. Building on the centrality of inheritance within noble society, the chapter highlights two dynamics that enabled the distribution of power between spouses: the emphasis on lineage among the aristocracy, and the practices of divided succession and co-lordship that were prevalent across France, neither of which has been sufficiently studied in relation to co-ruling couples. By reconciling competing ideals of unitary and multiple lordship, these partible seigneurial standards offer an alternative or supplemental framework for contextualizing such ruling partnerships beyond the delegations of authority stressed in studies of monarchy in this period.
The historiography of elite women has often contrasted ‘power’, the effective ability to command and be obeyed, with ‘authority’, the sanctioned right to lead. Using Jeanne’s charters as an idealized projection of her actual position, this chapter argues that this model is too restrictive to reflect contemporary understandings of lordly roles. On the surface, these texts seem to associate Jeanne with ‘authority’ and Charles with ‘power’, but a closer examination reveals that neither authority nor power was monolithic: different types of authority coexisted with different types of power, and all could vary jointly or independently. Moreover, these concepts were not static points of reference, but were actively manipulated by contemporaries according to various social norms. This suggests that instead of using the power/authority dichotomy, a more effective model of power dynamics would account for both the people or things over which power was exerted, and the practical and ideological grounds on which it worked. Approaching power from this contextually specific angle enables more diverse comparisons by privileging no single explanatory factor, aim, or outcome of power, and gives greater insight into the complexity of medieval political structures and their social functions.
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