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Royal Mothers

  • By: Ronda Lee Levine
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Historically, royal mothers have served a duality. The first and foremost job of the royal mother was to produce the heir to the throne. In that sense, the royal mother was seen as a body, rather than as an individual. The second job of the royal mother was to represent the icon of motherhood.

Expectations of Royal Mothers

The lives of royal mothers have never been entirely private due to the custom of hereditary succession. Queens were expected to produce heirs to continue the line, which in many cases meant male children, and were valued or devalued according to their success in doing so. For example, in seeking a male heir, Henry VIII of England (1491–1547) married six times, had two of his wives executed, and ...

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