'Sche is but a womman' : the queen and princess in Scotland, 1424-63
As a woman the queen in fifteenth-century Scotland could not exercise authority in her own right. She did, however, possess power. Her power was derived from that of her male relatives and was dependent upon the recognition and acceptance of the political community; as the queen's relationships to powerful men changed, so did the extent and nature of her power. As a daughter, a girl possessed little power, particularly with regard to marriage decisions made on her behalf, but the ceremonies surrounding her marriage and coronation demonstrated her future importance as wife, mother and link in a broader family network. As queens consort, Joan Beaufort (?-1445) and Mary of Guelders (1433-63) shared close working relationships with their husbands, James I and James II. The ties these queens established as consorts with leading members of the political community and with royal officials were of particular importance to their abilities to maintain a role on the regency councils governing during the minorities of their sons. Both queens maintained contact with their blood families and political sponsors throughout their lives, as did the six daughters of Joan Beaufort and James I, all of whom spent considerable time in continental courts. The importance of such ongoing communication to medieval diplomacy was fostered by female support networks in which women trained other women for their future roles. The practice of birth and surrogate mothers preparing and educating girls for their adult careers engendered in royal women a sense of their own importance. The effort and expense invested in sending eight royal women, two queens and six princesses, to and from Scotland in the first half of the fifteenth century and the variety of activities they undertook after their marriages indicates that the powerful men from whom they derived their own power were similarly aware of their contribution to political life.