A detailed examination of a distinctive group of female religious communities, founded by royal families in Anglo-Saxon England, this title shows that the fortunes of the nunneries were inextricably linked with those of the royal families who were their patrons. It explores how they often had to reconcile potentially conflicting demands from the secular and ecclesiastical worlds and looks at the opportunities the nunneries provided for royal women to exercise the types of public power and authority that in the early middle ages were often the preserve of men. Within the royal family nexus, entry into the church was a gendered role performed by its women and an option that was not generally available to royal males. As a result some remarkable women were able both to run major religious houses and to intervene in contemporary family politics. All too often the roles of such women in church and state have been underplayed in conventional ecclesiastical and political histories; this title hopes to restore some of the respect that these powerful women undoubtedly enjoyed in their own lifetimes.