Award Date

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Committee Member

Elspeth Whitney

Second Committee Member

John J. Curry

Third Committee Member

Joseph A. Fry

Fourth Committee Member

Evelyn Gajowski

Number of Pages



Women and their relationship to sovereignty, during the early modern era has become a rapidly growing topic, given that during this period an unprecedented number of women rose to high positions of power. This paper aims to compare the lives of the queen regents in France with their counterparts, the validé sultans in the Ottoman Empire, over the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when both groups of royal women acquired substantial power. Although these women were prohibited from ruling in their own right, the paper explores the ways in which queen regents and validé sultans used both official and unofficial channels of their authority to shape female sovereignty within their respective realms.

Although these women were bounded by diverse cultural constraints, these women constructed their power similarly. Therefore, I will illustrate how these royal women manipulated power behind the scenes through a variety of ways as mother, matchmaker, and patron, which ultimately increased their authority over the course of the period. Furthermore, we will explore how these women used elaborate displays of power and household networking to build up political capital, which reinforced the legitimacy of their sons, themselves, and that of their dynasty.

By closely examining the French queen regent and the Ottoman validé sultan, this project will shed new light on the parallel experiences of female sovereignty, and therefore can allow historians to further theorize how these women legitimized and navigated their positions once they came into power.


Early Modern Period; Ottoman; Patronage; Queen Regent; Sultan; Valide


European History | Gender and Sexuality | Islamic World and Near East History | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Women's Studies

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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