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Envisaging Eternity

Salian Women’s Religious Patronage

Nina Verbanaz

The Salian rulers of the German realm in the eleventh century, like other medieval monarchs, maintained a complex relationship with the church. This article examines Salian women’s participation in this relationship. Through founding cathedrals, establishing monasteries, and making donations, Salian women performed traditional queenly activities and helped establish their dynasty as legitimate rulers of the empire. Charter and chronicle evidence reveal the Salian queens’ significant and acknowledged role in the foundation of Speyer Cathedral and their influence in the adoption of the imperial practice of dynastic burial of male and female rulers in its crypt. In addition to the relationship between the Salian women and Speyer Cathedral, this article looks to their charitable donations, attested in chronicles and letters, and discusses in particular Agnes of Poitou’s (d. 1077) deathbed donations. The women of the Salian dynasty created a family identity and memory through active participation in relationships with the church.