Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens from Eleanor of Aquitaine to Elizabeth of York
Author: Lisa Hilton
Publisher: Pegasus (August 3, 2010)
England’s medieval queens were elemental in shaping the history of the nation. In an age where all politics were family politics, dynastic marriages placed English queens at the very center of power—the king’s bed. From Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror’s queen, to Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor consort, England’s queens fashioned the nature of monarchy and influenced the direction of the state. Occupying a unique position in the mercurial, often violent world of medieval politics, these queens had to negotiate a role that combined tremendous influence with terrifying vulnerability.
Lisa Hilton’s illuminating new book explores the lives of the twenty women who were crowned queen between 1066 and 1503. War, adultery, witchcraft, child abuse, murder—and occasionally even love—formed English queenship, but so too did patronage, learning, and fashion. Lovers of history will enjoy a dramatic narrative that presents an exceptional group of women whose personal ambitions, triumphs, and failures helped to give birth to the modern state. 16 pages of color illustrations
The Last Medieval Queens: English Queenship 1445-1503
Author: J. L. Laynesmith
Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 18, 2005)
The last medieval queens of England were Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville, and Elizabeth of York – four very different women whose lives and queenship were dominated by the Wars of the Roses. This book is not a traditional biography but a thematic study of the ideology and practice of queenship. It examines the motivations behind the choice of the first English-born queens, the multi-faceted rituals of coronation, childbirth, and funeral, the divided loyalties between family and king, and the significance of a position at the heart of the English power structure that could only be filled by a woman. It sheds new light on the queens’ struggles to defend their children’s rights to the throne, and argues that ideologically and politically a queen was integral to the proper exercise of mature kingship in this period.
Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 26, 2006)
In this vibrant biography, acclaimed author Alison Weir reexamines the life of Isabella of England, one of history’s most notorious and charismatic queens. Isabella arrived in London in 1308, the spirited twelve-year-old daughter of King Philip IV of France. Her marriage to the heir to England’s throne was designed to heal old political wounds between the two countries, and in the years that followed she became an important figure, a determined and clever woman whose influence would come to last centuries. Many myths and legends have been woven around Isabella’s story, but in this first full biography in more than 150 years, Alison Weir gives a groundbreaking new perspective.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 3, 2001)
Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of this truly exceptional woman, and provides new insights into her intimate world. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman— and the queen—in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent past era.
Queen of the Conqueror: The Life of Matilda, Wife of William I
Author: Tracy Joanne Borman
Publisher: Bantam (April 3, 2012)
Around the year 1049, William, Duke of Normandy and future conqueror of England, raced to the palace of Baldwin V, Count of Flanders. The count’s eldest daughter, Matilda, had refused William’s offer of marriage and publicly denounced him as a bastard. Encountering the young woman, William furiously dragged her to the ground by her hair and beat her mercilessly. Matilda’s outraged father immediately took up arms on his daughter’s behalf. But just a few days later, Baldwin was aghast when Matilda, still recovering from the assault, announced that she would marry none but William, since “he must be a man of great courage and high daring” to have ventured to “come and beat me in my own father’s palace.” Thus began the tempestuous marriage of Matilda of Flanders and William the Conqueror. While William’s exploits and triumphs have been widely chronicled, his consort remains largely overlooked. Now, in her groundbreaking Queen of the Conqueror, acclaimed author and historian Tracy Borman weaves together a comprehensive and illuminating tapestry of this noble woman who stood only four-foot-two and whose role as the first crowned Queen of England had a large and lasting influence on the English monarchy. From a wealth of historical artifacts and documents, Matilda emerges as passionate, steadfast, and wise, yet also utterly ruthless and tenacious in pursuit of her goals, and the only person capable of taming her formidable husband—who, unprecedented for the period, remained staunchly faithful to her. This mother of nine, including four sons who went on to inherit William’s French and English dominions, confounded the traditional views of women in medieval society by seizing the reins of power whenever she had the chance, directing her husband’s policy, and at times flagrantly disobeying his orders. Tracy Borman lays out Matilda’s remarkable story against one of the most fascinating and transformative periods in European history. Stirring, richly detailed, and wholly involving, Queen of the Conqueror reveals not just an extraordinary figure but an iconic woman who shaped generations, and an era that cast the essential framework for the world we know today.