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Research projects

Heteronormative Rulership: Politics, Sexuality and Propaganda in Late Medieval Europe

About this project

Project information

Project status

In progress


Henric Bagerius

Research subject

Research environments

Swedish Research Council 2011–

The aim of our project is to study late medieval rulership by analyzing the use of sexual transgressions in political propaganda during the late medieval period. The project consists of two parts. One part studies the political propaganda against six kings that were accused of sodomy and therefore were considered unfit to rule. The second part examines political propaganda against seven queens accused of adultery or debauchery. By using a queer perspective, we want to highlight the close connection between sexuality and politics that are evident in medieval chronicles, annals and pamphlets. We argue that the propaganda constructed a heteronormative rulership with clear norms for sexual and gender behavior for both king and queen and that these norms were regarded as essential for a well-functioning rulership.


The project is comparative and we will analyze sources from several European countries in order to better understand the construction of late medieval rulership. While medieval rulership and politics have been studied from many perspectives it is only recently that the need for a gender perspective has been underlined. Therefore, our project will provide a new perspective on the functions of rulership and demonstrate the importance of gender and sexuality in late medieval politics. It will lead to a deeper understanding of the personal nature of the political system and how propaganda was used and formulated during this period.


Research funding bodies

  • Swedish Research Council