Medieval castles loom large in history and in fantasy as places where the powerful sit and lord over kingdoms and people. Whether you’re watching period dramas like “The Last Kingdom” or new worlds like the GOT’s “House of the Dragon,” the castle is the main stage – it’s where political aspirations rise or fall, romantic longings consummate or disappoint, and important players are allowed to live or die. Under the tapestries and candle chandeliers, it is the scene for nearly every pivot point to a story. You want drama? The castle is your best shot of finding it – and the Lady of the Castle is often at the center of it all.
Who is the Lady of the Castle? She is the highborn woman whose husband is the Lord or King of a fiefdom. Married young to a man she barely knows, she is the second most powerful person in the castle. Trained to be able to take their husbands place whenever he leaves, she was the de facto boss; she would look after the finances of the estates, collect rents, oversee the farming, and settle all disputes within his domain. In some cases – she would even take up arms to protect her property and family – as Eleanor de Montfort did at the Siege of Dover Castle in 1265 during the Second Barons War in England.
Granted, the Medieval Era, historically, was not kind to women. These were brutish authoritarian times – where women were shackled by the law of the land and religion, and where childbirth was a frequent cause of death. But for the Lady of the Castle, things were different. Her status, bloodline, and wealth allowed her to operate on a scale most men would not achieve. A chance she did not waste – proving how dangerously capable a woman can be.
Here are some more (of the many) Ladies who defended their castle: