I'm actually referring to a circumstance in the event that they are joint sovereigns. Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, Mary I of England and Philip II of Spain, and William III and Mary II of England, Scotland, and Ireland are my examples. All three pairs apparently had a system set for them that required both of their signatures on royal documents and Acts of Parliament...but what happened when one was overseas or in another country/realm of the many they ruled over (Ferdinand, Phillip, and William seemed like they were traveling often while their wives stayed behind)?

Was it good enough for only one spouse to sign?

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    I'm not sure you're going to be comparing like with like (certainly within England). The relationship between the monarch and parliament changed considerably in the period between the two Marys. Mar 5 '17 at 13:36
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    Isabella and Ferdinand were not joint sovereigns. Each one was the sole sovereign of his/her own kingdom/s. In fact, when Isabella died, Ferdinand would act only as regent for Isabella kingdom/s until her heir (Joanna) was crowned. Could you provide a source showing that they were both required to sign official documents of either kingdom?
    – SJuan76
    Mar 5 '17 at 15:59
  • @SJuan I saw the term joint sovereigns and coregency in Google more times than not, so I guess by that they only meant they were both equal? I can't say, but it's everywhere. The link to the document thing: epicworldhistory.blogspot.com/2012/06/… But I'm not too concerned about the Isabel/Ferd inconsistencies as I am about the general question: what would happen in a situation of joint sovereignty that required two siggies but one signatory was away?
    – Oracle
    Mar 5 '17 at 18:10

William and Mary II were England's first (and only) dual monarchs. So for them, either could sign.

Philip was not the Sovereign, Mary I was. So only Mary could sign. This was another unique situation; usually the husband would get all the wife's property, which included titles. People were not happy that Mary was marrying the king of Spain, and that was part of the deal.

Up to Henry VII, sovereigns always had to grant consent in person. From the time of Henry VIII, monarchs have been able to grant assent by sending a group of privy councillors to do it on their behalf. This became the norm. Apparently the last occassion assent was granted in person was 1854.

So in other words, the Queen consort never had any role in granting assent. Either the king had to do it himself, or he could send members of the privy council.

  • Totally helpful and thorough, Sir/Madame! Thank you so much!
    – Oracle
    Mar 6 '17 at 10:02
  • You're welcome. It's worth remembering parliament didn't have to be at Westminster. It could be anywhere the King wanted it. From Henry II to Edward VI they were all kings, no queens regnant. If we don't count Matilda, they were all kings going back to Alfred, or Egbert, or Offa, or whoever you want to start with. Parliament was an event, not an organisation, and it wasn't tied to one place the king could be absent from.
    – Ne Mo
    Mar 6 '17 at 11:14

The question is flawed. It assumes that only a Queen regnant sharing power with her husband or other partner could ever sign laws and other government documents in the absence of the male ruler. That is not the case. It was perfectly possible for a queen consort to sign sign laws and other government documents in the absence of her husband.

On 13 May 1888, Princess Isabel of Brazil signed the lei aurea or Golden Law abolishing slavery in Brazil. She was acting as regent while her father the emperor was in Europe for medical treatment.

Empress Isabella was the regent of Spain in 1529-1532 and in 1535-1539 while her husband, Emperor Charles V was away. No doubt she signed a number of bills into law.

At that time the rightful ruler of Castile, etc. was her mother-in-law Queen regnant Juan la Loca ("Jane the Insane") but she had been called insane by her father King Ferdinand II of Aragon and her son and co-king Emperor Charles V and locked away with no outside contact.

After Emperor Charles V came of age he put female relations in charge of the Netherlands; his Aunt Margaret widowed Duchess of savoy until 1531 and his sister the widowed Queen Mary of Hungary and Bohemia until 1555.

Emperor Henry V left his wife, Empress Matilda or Maude (later claimant of the English throne) as the regent of Italy from 1118-1119.

And there are many other examples of queens consort without any political power while their husbands are in the country ruling while their husbands are away.

Thus it would seem logical that Queens regnant who were co rulers with their husbands could sign laws and other important documents while their husbands were out of the country.

But of course the best answer would be actual proof of the procedure in specific cases.

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    I wouldn't say the question is flawed. I didn't ask it because I assumed queen regnants could be the only holders; I asked because I only wished to know about queen regnants and joint sovereignty (it baffled me for some reason because both siggies were required, rather than just a regent signing for one head of state, so I guess I was wondering about the document procedure), not queen consorts. That's why I mentioned I was asking about the specific case of joint sovereignty. I'm not any less grateful for your answer, however! You really went into detail and it was pretty helpful!
    – Oracle
    Mar 5 '17 at 20:24

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