Book News April 2022

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Our Sporting Monarchs: Royalty at War and Play Through the Ages 

Hardcover – 15 November 2021 (UK) & 1 April 2022 (US)

Sports of all kinds have played a crucial role in the reigns of our kings and queens. Some used it for purposes both brutal and mercenary, others to boost courage and prowess for war, and many because they enjoyed physical exercise and the thrills and excitement sport brings. Our Sporting Monarchs traces the involvement of royalty with sport from the Norman Conquest to modern times. It is an exciting, romantic and colourful story spanning 1,200 years of British history. Brought up in the archery butts, it was the English bowmen who won the Battle of Agincourt for King Henry V, while the Tudor sporting star, Henry VIII, wrestled for prestige with the French King on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Learn about Queen Elizabeth I’s surprising passion for blood sports like bear-baiting, Charles I’s bitter quarrel with the Puritans over Sunday sport (which hastened the onset of the English Civil War), and discover how George V and VI’s racing pigeons were commandeered for messages in the two World Wars.

Royal Mysteries: The Anglo-Saxons and Early Britain

Hardcover – 30 April 2022 (UK) & 30 January 2022 (US)

Royal mysteries never fail to intrigue readers and TV viewers. The ‘mysteries’, unravelled and analysed, are of enduring fascination and full of tragedy, suffering and pathos but also heroism and romance. The text is based on deep research in original sources, including rare documents, archaeological and DNA evidence, latest historiography and academic research, but is essentially accessible history. These are the ‘Dark Ages’, but Anglo-Saxon enlightenment is emphasised. The Heptarchy, with seven Anglo-Saxon states, is examined, and Alfred’s victory over the Vikings and emergence of the English kingdom. But mystery surrounds all aspects of dynastic, political and military history. The story includes the surviving British and Welsh kingdoms when ‘Welsh’ meant ‘foreigner, the Gaelic kingdoms in what became Scotland, the survival of lowland ‘Britons’ under the Germanic Anglo-Saxon radar – a new interpretation of early English society in its shadowy forms with the half-mythical founders of the early English kingdoms like Hengist of Kent or Cerdic of Wessex, up to William duke of Normandy – did he have any legitimate claim to justify his ‘power-grab’? Some episodes have dropped out of history, like the murder of the teenage King Edward the ‘Martyr’, but here is a re-telling of early mysteries based on close analysis of the myriad sources while stimulating romantic fascination.

Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Hearts 

Hardcover – 25 November 2021 (UK) & 9 April 2022 (US)

Elizabeth Stuart is one the most misrepresented – and underestimated – figures of the seventeenth century. Labelled a spendthrift more interested in the theatre and her pet monkeys than politics or her children, and long pitied as ‘The Winter Queen’, the direct ancestor of Elizabeth II was widely misunderstood. Nadine Akkerman’s biography reveals an altogether different woman, painting a vivid picture of a queen forged in the white heat of European conflict.


House of Tudor: A Grisly History 

Hardcover – 28 February 2022 (UK) & 30 April 2022 (US)

Gruesome but not gratuitous, this decidedly darker take on the Tudors, from 1485 to 1603, covers some forty-five ‘events’ from the Tudor reign, taking in everything from the death of Richard III to the botched execution of Mary Queen of Scots and a whole host of horrors in between. Particular attention is paid to the various gruesome ways in which the Tudors despatched their various villains and lawbreakers, from simple beheadings to burnings and, of course, the dreaded hanging, drawing and quartering. Other chapters cover the various diseases prevalent during Tudor times, including the dreaded ‘Sweating Sickness’ – rather topical at the moment, unfortunately – as well as the cures for these sicknesses, some of which were considered worse than the actual disease itself. The day-to-day living conditions of the general populace are also examined, as well as various social taboos and the punishments that accompanied them, i.e. the stocks, as well as punishment by exile. Tudor England was not a nice place to live by 21st century standards, but the book will also serve to explain how it was still nevertheless a familiar home to our ancestors.

Women in the Medieval Court: Consorts and Concubines 

Hardcover – 28 February 2022 (UK) & 30 April 2022 (US)

While the courts of medieval Europe ate up tales of knights in shining armour and damsels in distress, the reality for the elite women who inhabited those courts could be very different. Medieval society might expect the noblewomen who decorated its courts to play the role of Queen Guinevere, but many of these women had very different ideas. In a society dominated by men, women who stood out from the crowd could experience great success -and greater failure. Great queens, who sometimes ruled in their own right, fought wars and forged empires. Noblewomen acted behind the scenes to change the course of politics. Far from cloistered off from the world, powerful abbesses played the role of kingmaker. And concubines had a role to play as well, both as political actors and as mothers of children who might change a country’s destiny. They experienced tremendous success and dramatic downfalls. Meet women from across medieval Europe, from a Danish queen who waged political war to form a Scandinavian empire to a Tuscan countess who joined her troops on the battlefield. Whether they wielded power in battle, from a convent or throne room, or even in the bedchamber, these women were far from damsels in distress.

Sybil: Queen of Jerusalem, 1186–1190 (Rulers of the Latin East)

Hardcover – 15 December 2021 (US) & 13 April 2022 (UK)

Queen Sybil of Jerusalem, Queen in her own right, was ruler of the kingdom of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1190. Her reign saw the loss of the city of Jerusalem to Saladin and the beginning of the Third Crusade. Her reign began with her nobles divided and crisis looming; by her death, the military forces of Christian Europe were uniting with her and her husband, intent on recovering what had been lost. Sybil died before the bulk of the forces of the Third Crusade could arrive in the kingdom, and Jerusalem was never recovered. But although Sybil failed, she went down fighting – spiritually, even if not physically.

In Search of a Kingdom: Francis Drake, Elizabeth I, and the Perilous Birth of the British Empire 

Paperback – 29 March 2022 (US) & 28 April 2022 (UK)

In 1580, sailing on Elizabeth’s covert orders, Drake became the first captain to circumnavigate the earth successfully. (Ferdinand Magellan had died in his attempt.) Part exploring expedition, part raiding mission, Drake’s audacious around-the-world journey in the Golden Hind reached Patagonia, the Pacific Coast of present-day California and Oregon, the Spice Islands, Java, and Africa. Almost a decade later, Elizabeth called upon Drake again. As the devil-may-care vice-admiral of the English fleet, Drake dramatically defeated the once-invincible Spanish Armada, spurring the British Empire’s ascent and permanently wounding its greatest rival.

The relationship between Drake and Elizabeth is the missing link in our understanding of the rise of the British Empire, and its importance has not been fully described or appreciated. Framed around Drake’s key voyages as a window into this crucial moment in British history, In Search of a Kingdom is a rousing adventure narrative entwining epic historical themes with intimate passions.

Cleopatra: The Queen Who Challenged Rome and Conquered Eternity 

Paperback – 15 March 2022 (US) & 28 April 2022 (UK)

Cleopatra focuses on a twenty-year period that marked a sweeping change in Roman history, beginning with the assassination of Julius Caesar that led to the end of the Republic and ending with the suicides of Antony and Cleopatra and the birth of the Augustan Empire. Angela brings the people, stories, customs, and traditions of this fascinating period alive as he transports us to the chaotic streets of the capital of the ancient world, the exotic port of Alexandria in Egypt, and to the bloody battlefields where an empire was won and lost.

A Queen for All Seasons: A Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II on her Platinum Jubilee 

Hardcover – 28 October 2021 (UK) & 19 April 2022 (US)

A Queen For All Seasons, edited and introduced by Joanna Lumley, is a perceptive, touching and engaging tribute to this unique woman. A treasure chest of first-hand writings, insights and snapshots of the Queen during key moments of her reign to form a vibrant portrait of the woman herself and the extraordinary role she plays.

Queen of Our Times: The Life of Queen Elizabeth II

Library Binding – 27 April 2022 (US & UK)

A definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the seventieth anniversary of her reign by a renowned royal biographer.

The Queen: 70 years of Majestic Style 

Hardcover – 19 April 2022 (US & UK)

A woman whose views are never heard, Queen Elizabeth II has deployed fashion as a means to communicate and signal her position to the crowds who gather to see her in public and the millions who watch her television broadcasts: “I must be seen to be believed,” she has said. The Queen’s evolving attitude to dress reflects a visual landscape that began as genteel reportage in mostly black and white and has over the years evolved into today’s technicolour 24/7 news cycle, flashed around the globe in seconds and driven by social media. Incredibly, in her 70th year as monarch, the Queen feels as relevant as ever before–and she is, undoubtedly, a style icon. The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style celebrates the fashion evolution of Elizabeth II in her unprecedented Platinum Jubilee year.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: Platinum Jubilee Celebration: 70 Years: 1952-2022 

Hardcover – 5 April 2022 (US) & 1 February 2022 (UK)

This book celebrates the highlights and challenges of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over the past seven decades.

Scandals of the Royal Palaces: An Intimate Memoir of Royals Behaving Badly 

Hardcover – 5 April 2022 (US) & 19 October 2021 (UK)

This book is the first in-depth look at the outrageous behaviour not just of the royals themselves but also of palace officials, courtiers, household servants and hangers-on. Covering existing royal palaces in some depth as well taking a look at scandals linked to long-vanished royal residences, such as Whitehall, Nonsuch and Kings Langley, Scandals of the Royal Palaces also includes new information on well-known and not-so-well-known scandals, including those that have only recently been revealed in detail through the release of previously secret official papers.

Queen Kaʻahumanu of Hawaii: A Biography 

Paperback – 5 April 2022 (US) & 14 April 2022 (UK)

King Kamehameha the Great had 30 wives, but Ka’ahumanu (c.1768-1832) was his favourite. Descended from Oceanian voyagers, she grew up in a society completely isolated from the rest of the world, her life enmeshed in dynastic wars and constrained by an elaborate system of taboos. In 1778, she was shocked by the arrival of alien ships, followed by an influx of foreigners. In their wake came devastating epidemics. Seizing power after the King’s death, Ka’ahumanu overturned those taboos and guided her nation through revolutionary change, crucial to the Hawaiian Islands’ unification. Through sicknesses, romances, infidelities, murders, rebellions, pardons, travels, missionary work, and more, her story challenges things many believe about American history, Christianity, and gender; further, it has implications for our current debates about immigration, sexuality, and religious diversity. Drawing on seldom-analysed French and Russian sources, this biography covers previously-neglected aspects of Ka’ahumanu’s life. The many spouses and lovers she and Kamehameha had, the roles played by Central Europeans, African-Americans, Catholics and Unitarians in her realm, and struggles with religious pluralism are all included.

The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor–the Truth and the Turmoil 

Hardcover – 26 April 2022 (US)

Picking up where Tina Brown’s masterful The Diana Chronicles left off, The Palace Papers reveals how the royal family reinvented itself after the traumatic years when Diana’s blazing celebrity ripped through the House of Windsor like a comet.

Anne of Bohemia (Lives of Royal Women)

Paperback – 18 April 2022 (US & UK)

This volume examines the life of Anne of Bohemia, first queen of Richard II (1377-1399), and situates her within the context of medieval queenship by arguing that Anne ably fulfilled the political role of the queen consort through her intercession, patronage, and piety.

Much previous scholarship on Anne has focused on her relationship with famous poets, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, but from analysing government documents, it becomes clear that Anne used her wealth and status to enact power. Through financial, religious, and cultural patronage, Anne rewarded supporters and servants and influenced court life. The examination of sources such as a letter from Anne to her half brother and an apothecary bill that contains some fertility medicines suggests that the Queen both desired and tried to have children. As such, the volume questions the public imagination of Anne and shows that, in this example, although she died childless, Anne and Richard attempted to have children throughout their marriage.

With the inclusion of tables listing Anne’s acts of intercession and her land holdings and land grants, Anne of Bohemia is a useful tool for students and scholars interested in queenship studies, medieval women’s history, and the history of the English monarchy.

The Queen and the U.S.A. 

Hardcover – 1 April 2022 (UK & US)

About Moniek Bloks 2391 Articles
My name is Moniek and I am from the Netherlands. I began this website in 2013 because I wanted to share these women's amazing stories.

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