Kinderlosigkeit als Ausgangspunkt neuer Konzepte von ‚Mutterschaft‘ am Beispiel des Hofes von Neapel in der ersten Hälfte des 14. Jahrhunderts

  • Cristina Andenna (Autor/in)


The lack of descendants was a considerable problem for pre-modern rulers: dynastic continuity was not assured and could lead to dramatic consequences, especially for wives. However, the example of Naples shows that the phenomenon of childlessness at court was much more complex and differentiated than assumed and often depended on the specific historical context. Queen Sancia (1285–1345), wife of Robert of Naples, remained childless until the end of her life without suffering any form of exclusion at court. Her biological „shortcoming“ was the starting point for new concepts of motherhood. This was, on the one hand, a social-worldly motherhood, that is, a motherhood without biological-bodily ties. As was the duty of a consors regni, she cared like a biological mother for Robert’s son and heir and his granddaughters from his first marriage. On the other hand, her religious turn to the Franciscan spirituals enabled Sancia to develop a second form of religious-spiritual motherhood for which her childlessness was interpreted as the starting point. She presented herself as the mother of the fratres minores, pictured her entire dynasty in a genealogical bond to the order and contributed to the development of a ‘feminine Franciscanism’ faithful to its origins. Sancia’s case shows that the existence of children from the first marriage could relieve a queen from the pressure to procreate and allow her to develop alternative fruitful solutions for securing the future of the dynasty.

Keywords Sancia; Anjou Dynasty; Social-Worldly Mother­hood; Religious-Spiritual Motherhood; Franciscan Order