Female characters

Restrictions on women

Women have many legal restrictions on their actions – in practice they are mostly relevant to high status women, but that is all female characters. These include:

  • No sex before marriage. Women who have not remained chaste risk annulment of later marriages.
  • It is illegal for women to speak of religious matters in public. Female preachers are tried, tortured and executed. Small private theological lectures to groups of women or reading groups of the Bible and religious texts are permitted. However they may still seem suspicious to some.
  • It is highly unusual for women to hold property or titles in their own right. Property would usually be taken over by their husband if they married. The King might assign someone to take control of a unmarried woman’s assets, making her a ward of their household.
  • Women cannot join the clergy, be involved with military activities, or hold power in Parliament.

Education of women

Education for women has increased in popularity over the last several decades. Thomas More, the former Lord Chancellor, insisted on the highest standard of education for his wife, daughters and granddaughters. Despite his modest beginnings and limited income, he has some of the best-educated descendants in Europe. Many others now strive to follow his example.However, this has no effect on the prohibitions of women from discussing theology. These remain absolute, no matter the level of education or status. Women seek ways to evade these rules. Translation is an especially valuable skill for a young woman. It may give more influence than people admit. If a young maid is translating a new treatise and the accompanying commentary, her personal opinion affects the resulting text and those who read it.

Female influence

With limitations on their formal power, women still find plenty of ways to influence politics and this is a major theme of Reginae Regis.

This isn’t an attempt to describe all the ways that historical women might have found to gain influence, or how soft power works in larp. We think players will have plenty more ideas than we will.

Their options could include:

  • Influence men who they have a close connection to – husbands/brothers/sons, etc. and send them to meetings with the correct opinions
  • Broker compromises between factions when the male characters refuse to see reason.
  • Find a priest and ask lots of leading theological questions to ‘correct your misunderstandings’
  • Privately gather with other women to do ‘bible readings’
  • Make contact with women connected to political opponents of your male supporters
  • Exchange and trade intelligence with other women

Female archetypes

Women in our setting fall into four broad archetypes. Each must abide by the laws and customs above.


We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.

-Dolly Parton
  • Expected to be decorative and entertaining at court
  • Unsupervised contact with men is potentially ruinous for her and her family
  • Marriage options and assets controlled by a male guardian
  • May pursue her own marriage options through romance
  • Social promotion is through good marriage

Young unmarried women are expected to be decorative, useful and entertaining. At a moment’s notice, any maid could be expected to perform in some way, be it poetry, reading, music, singing, dancing or striking up a game of cards. Most are put to work as maids in waiting for more high-status women – this is genteel work such as fine embroidery, personal care, companionship and entertainment. They are expected to tend to their mistress’s needs but also learn and mature from her good influence. These positions are often fought over by male guardians as a means of gaining influence and displaying their eligible wards for consideration by the court. It’s no secret that Anne Boleyn was maid in waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Jane Seymour was maid in waiting to Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard was maid in waiting to Anne of Cleves.

After a few years, most maids will be married off. Their own preference is usually a handsome young man with wealth, power and influence who will flatter and seduce them with poetry and perfect ideals of courtly love. Their male guardians will rarely take their preferences into account and are likely to marry them off to whoever will provide the family with the most wealth, power and influence in return. Maids are expected to remain chaste until marriage. Scandals over this could see them banished from society into a nunnery.  It casts a shadow over a family’s reputation and could legally invalidate a later marriage. This doesn’t prevent you ladies from flirting and returning affection, but they must be cautious around men. They usually have minimal privacy and share bedrooms with others of the same rank.
NB: players’ bedrooms and sleeping will be OC.

Examples: Princess Elizabeth Tudor, Princess Mary Tudor, Lady Margaret Douglas,  Joan Bulmer, Mary Roper

Wife/Lady in waiting

“Strong women don’t have ‘attitudes’, we have standards.”

-Marilyn Monroe
  • Married women who manage households
  • Chief duty is to produce male heirs for their husband and see them brought up well
  • Until heirs are produced, unsupervised contact with men is scandalous
  • Once heirs are produced, women gain more romantic freedom
  • Social promotion is through placing their children in good marriages and building family status

Married women move up in social hierarchy via a respectable marriage. They are expected to have all the skills to run a household. These do not necessarily require much in the way of numeracy or even literacy; most lettered work is delegated to a clerk. Some serve as a Lady In Waiting to a more senior noblewoman and maintain their place in court.

Their paramount duty is to produce male heirs for their husband and ensure the education and good upbringing of their children. Formal education is delegated to paid professionals with a university degree as a show of status. Household management and the rules of society are passed down directly from mother to daughter.

Once the duty to produce heirs and raise a good family are well underway, scandal is much less of a concern. Discreet affairs are common enough if kept secret. These may even go on with a husband’s knowledge, especially if he’s known to keep a mistress.

Examples: Princess Catherine Knollys, Frances Grey, Princess Mary Fitzroy


At 70 years old if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.

-Helen Mirren
  • Older women. Their alliances have solidified through their children’s marriages
  • Have a wide network of contacts, mostly female or relatives
  • Have a lot of ‘soft’ power including massive influence over their sons
  • Hold and use a male relative’s power completely in his absence

High status older women have discharged their duty to produce heirs and daughters. They have placed many of their children in favourable positions. This gives them a wide network of ‘soft power’, particularly the ability to write to other women all over Europe. This is a key channel for diplomacy, even if their husbands are formally at war with each other. They oversee households and great estates but leave the day-to-day matters to other women in their service.

Many of these matriarchs have long memories including a list of old affairs and secrets that the men of the day didn’t pick up on.

They are expected to wield a man’s power completely in his absence, be it their son or husband. Owing to the slow speed of communication and the wars raging around Europe, this can leave them with huge amounts of power and autonomy for years. In 1513 Henry, occupied in France on campaign, had left a young Catherine of Aragon as Queen Regent. She commanded nobles to raise armies, dictated policy and oversaw the victory at Flodden Field, sending the bloody coat of James IV to him in France.

Examples: Agnes Howard, dowager Duchess of Norfolk – stepmother of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, María de Salinas – mother of the Duchess of Suffolk, Olenna Tyrell, Queen of Thorns – Game of Thrones, Lady Patience – from Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings cycle.


Men fight wars, women win them.

-Queen Elizabeth I
  • Outrank all other women regardless of how they got there, can get an audience with the King unless they’re disgraced
  • Has her own court, income, estates, property and household
  • Must stay in favour, court is very sensitive to small shifts in Henry’s mood.

Queens are the most powerful people in England after the King. They outrank all other women regardless of their previous status. They each have their own household and estates that provide their income. They appoint their own court of allies who share political, religious or family objectives.

Any Queen can request an audience with the King at short notice. Because of their connection with heirs to the throne, Queens are often petitioned by foreign nations, especially when they support their theological or political positions.

Some Queens have specific privileges. In particular Catherine of Aragon’s court are allowed to hear Catholic Mass, and keep to Catholic theology, as long as they don’t preach it.

Queens’ privileges are dependent on Henry’s favour. Their estates are administered by the crown and the income can be restricted at the whim of the King. Their entire court can even be dismissed until the King changes his mind. He is notoriously fickle, and any subtle shifts in his mood can signify huge changes in politics or religion.

Examples – all of Henry’s Queens