by Janet L. Nelson
A major theme in the present volume of articles by Janet Nelson is the usefulness of gender as a category of historical analysis. Some papers range more widely across early medieval time and geographical as well as social space, but most focus on the Carolingian period and on royalty and elites. The workings of dynastic political power are viewed in social as well as political context, and the author explores the realities of gendered power, which while constraining women, gave them distinctive possibilities for agency. These papers offer new perspectives on the Carolingian world in general and on Charlemagne's reign in particular.