• This book compares two successful, elite women, Empress Adelheid (931 999) and Countess Matilda (1046 1115), for their relative ability to retain their wealth and power. Both owned extensive property in and exercised power across overlapping geographical regions, at either end of a century that proved formative for the rise of a more organized society. The comparison between these two women informs and transforms the debate about the change in opportunities for women to access wealth and power. It is particularly revealing because the general changes of the eleventh century brought about a reversal in women's relative ability to access wealth and power: examining the reasons for the women's successes will highlight the commonplaces as well as the extraordinary. Drawing on a considerable number of primary sources for the two women, the book presents their lives in different ways, tempered by the expectations of the audience in the different periods in which they wrote. By examining the chroniclers of the lives of Adelheid and Matilda and how they presented the two women to the contemporary audience, this book will show in what high esteem both women were held. Such esteem extended beyond what might be reasonably expected, challenging conventional beliefs for gender historians and medieval scholars.

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