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The Politics of Self-Representation in the Letters of Violant de Bar (1365–1431)

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The treatment that Violant de Bar, duchess of Girona and queen of Aragon (1380–96), has received at the hands of medieval historians has been both negative and dismissive. She has been portrayed as a virile female and intrusive foreigner and blamed for the ruinous political and fiscal excesses allowed during the reign of her husband, Joan I (1387–96). By utilizing the vast collection of royal correspondence preserved in the Archives of the Crown of Aragon, this essay aims to show that, in contrast to the traditional representation of Violant, she creates for herself several distinct and shifting self-representations in her letters. In constructing herself as daughter, mother, wife, or widow she consciously manipulates how she wishes others to see her. It is, therefore, in the study of these letters that we confront a more authentic representation of Violant de Bar.

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