Book News August 2020

Queen, Mother, and Stateswoman: Mariana of Austria and the Government of Spain

Paperback – 18 August 2020 (US) & 15 May 2020 (UK)

When Philip IV of Spain died in 1665, his heir, Carlos II, was three years old. In addition to this looming dynastic crisis, decades of enormous military commitments had left Spain a virtually bankrupt state with vulnerable frontiers and a depleted army. In Silvia Z. Mitchell’s revisionist account, Queen, Mother, and Stateswoman, Queen Regent Mariana of Austria emerges as a towering figure at court and on the international stage, while her key collaborators—the secretaries, ministers, and diplomats who have previously been ignored or undervalued—take their rightful place in history.

Mitchell provides a nuanced account of Mariana of Austria’s ten-year regency (1665–75) of the global Spanish Empire and examines her subsequent role as queen mother. Drawing from previously unmined primary sources, including Council of State deliberations, diplomatic correspondence, Mariana’s and Carlos’s letters, royal household papers, manuscripts, and legal documents, Mitchell describes how, over the course of her regency, Mariana led the monarchy out of danger and helped redefine the military and diplomatic blocs of Europe in Spain’s favor. She follows Mariana’s exile from court and recounts how the dowager queen used her extensive connections and diplomatic experience to move the negotiations for her son’s marriage forward, effectively exploiting the process to regain her position.

A new narrative of the Spanish Habsburg monarchy in the later seventeenth century, this volume advances our knowledge of women’s legitimate political entitlement in the early modern period. It will be welcomed by scholars and students of queenship, women’s studies, and early modern Spain.

Marie Antoinette’s Confidante: The Rise and Fall of the Princesse de Lamballe

Paperback – 30 April 2020 (UK) & 19 August 2020 (US)

Marie Antoinette has always fascinated readers worldwide. Yet perhaps no one knew her better than one of her closest confidantes, Marie Thrse, the Princess de Lamballe. The Princess became superintendent of the Queens household in 1774, and through her relationship with Marie Antoinette, a unique perspective of the lavishness and daily intrigue at Versailles is exposed. Born into the famous House of Savoy in Turin, Italy, Marie Thrse was married at the age of seventeen to the Prince de Lamballe; heir to one of the richest fortunes in France. He transported her to the gold-leafed and glittering chandeliered halls of the Chteau de Versailles, where she soon found herself immersed in the political and sexual scandals that surrounded the royal court. As the plotters and planners of Versailles sought, at all costs, to gain the favour of Louis XVI and his Queen, the Princess de Lamballe was there to witness it all. This book reveals the Princess de Lamballes version of these events and is based on a wide variety of historical sources, helping to capture the waning days and grisly demise of the French monarchy. The story immerses you in a world of titillating sexual rumours, blood-thirsty revolutionaries, and hair-raising escape attempts and is a must read for anyone interested in Marie Antoinette, the origins of the French Revolution, or life in the late 18th Century.

To Free the Romanovs: Royal Kinship and Betrayal in Europe 1917-1919

Paperback – 15 April 2020 (UK) & 1 August 2020 (US)

King George V s role in the withdrawal of an asylum offer was covered up. Britain refused to allow any Grand Dukes to come to England, a fact that is rarely explored.

When Russia erupted into revolution, almost overnight the pampered lifestyle of the Imperial family vanished. Within months many of them were under arrest and they became enemies of the Revolution and the Russian people . All showed great fortitude and courage during adversity. None of them wanted to leave Russia; they expected to be back on their estates soon and to live as before. When it became obvious that this was not going to happen a few managed to flee but others became dependent on their foreign relatives for help.

For those who failed to escape, the questions remain. Why did they fail? What did their relatives do to help them? Were lives sacrificed to save other European thrones? After thirty-five years researching and writing about the Romanovs, Coryne Hall considers the end of the 300-year-old dynasty and the guilt of the royal families in Europe over the Romanovs bloody end. Did the Kaiser do enough? Did George V? When the Tsar s cousins King Haakon of Norway and King Christian of Denmark heard of Nicholas s abdication, what did they do? Unpublished diaries of the Tsar s cousin Grand Duke Dmitri give a new insight to the Romanovs feelings about George V s involvement.

Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, and Adultery in Versailles

Hardcover – 15 June 2020 (US) & 1 August 2020 (UK)

This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye. When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantasy-driven, and notorious antics were inevitable given her family history and the alluring influences that surrounded her. Marie Antoinette’s frivolous and flamboyant lifestyle prompted a torrent of scathing pamphlets, and Bashor scrutinizes the queen’s world to discover what was false, what was possible, and what, although shocking, was most probably true.

Readers will be fascinated by this glimpse behind the decorative screens to learn the secret language of the queen’s fan and explore the dark passageways and staircases of endless intrigue at Versailles.

The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson 

Paperback – 25 August 2020 (US & UK)

It was the love story of the century–the king and the commoner. In December 1936, King Edward VII abdicated the throne to marry “the woman I love,” Wallis Warfield Simpson, a twice-divorced American who quickly became one of the twentieth century’s most famous personalities, a figure of intrigue and mystery, both admired and reviled.

Grace: A Biography 

Paperback – 18 August 2020 (US & UK)

This comprehensive biography draws from previously unreleased documents from the Grimaldi family archive and, for the first time, access to the letters between Kelly and Hitchcock. It is also based on interviews with Kelly’s companions and relatives, including an exclusive interview with Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Finding Freedom: Harry and Meghan and the Making of a Modern Royal Family 

Paperback – 11 August 2020 (US & UK)

When news of the budding romance between a beloved English prince and an American actress broke, it captured the world’s attention and sparked an international media frenzy. But while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have continued to make headlines—from their engagement, wedding, and birth of their son Archie to their unprecedented decision to step back from their royal lives—few know the true story of Harry and Meghan.

For the very first time, Finding Freedom goes beyond the headlines to reveal unknown details of Harry and Meghan’s life together, dispelling the many rumors and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond. As members of the select group of reporters that cover the British Royal Family and their engagements, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand have witnessed the young couple’s lives as few outsiders can.

With unique access and written with the participation of those closest to the couple, Finding Freedom is an honest, up-close, and disarming portrait of a confident, influential, and forward-thinking couple who are unafraid to break with tradition, determined to create a new path away from the spotlight, and dedicated to building a humanitarian legacy that will make a profound difference in the world.

She is But a Woman: Queenship in Scotland 1424–1463 

Paperback – 6  October 2020 (US) & 6 August 2020 (UK)

She is But a Woman, the first in-depth study of medieval Scottish queens, investigates the relationship between gender and power in the medieval Scottish court by exploring the art of queenship as practised by Joan Beaufort and Mary of Guelders, queens of James I and James II. These women were excluded from authority but clearly possessed power as wives and mothers of kings. They established and cultivated relationships with members of the court, learned about Scottish political life and supported their husbands in the business of government. The book examines for the first time the arrivals of Joan and Mary in Scotland, their social and political status, their relationships with their husbands and families, and their roles in international diplomacy.

This modern re-evaluation of the role and power of the medieval queen is a thematic exploration rather than a biographical study. It situates the experiences of Joan and Mary within a broader European context and provides a new perspective on Scotland’s political, social and cultural links with Europe in the fifteenth century.

Ladies of Magna Carta: Women of Influence in Thirteenth Century England 

Hardcover – 19 August 2020 (US) & 30 May 2020 (UK)

Including the royal families of England and Scotland, the Marshals, the Warennes, the Braoses and more, Ladies of Magna Carta focuses on the roles played by the women of the great families whose influences and experiences have reached far beyond the thirteenth century.

Women and Parliament in Later Medieval England (The New Middle Ages) 

Hardcover – 4 August 2020 (US & UK)

This Palgrave Pivot provides the first ever comprehensive consideration of the part played by women in the workings and business of the English Parliament in the later Middle Ages. Breaking new ground, this book considers all aspects of women’s access to the highest court of medieval England. Women were active supplicants to the Crown in Parliament, and sometimes appeared there in person to prosecute cases or make political demands. It explores the positions of women of varying rank, from queens to peasants, vis-à-vis this male institution, where they very occasionally appeared in person but were more usually represented by written petitions. A full analysis of these petitions and of the official records of parliament reveals that there were a number of issues on which women consistently pressed for changes in the law and its administration, and where the Commons and the Crown either championed or refused to support reform. Such is the concentration of petitions on the subjects of dower and rape that these may justifiably be termed ‘women’s issues’ in the medieval Parliament.

Women and Economic Power in Premodern Royal Courts (Gender and Power in the Premodern World) 

Hardcover – 31 August 2020 (US) & 30 June 2020 (UK)

From medieval England to early modern Denmark and the Holy Roman Empire, premodern kings and queens had splendid courts to show their God-given power. But where did the money for these come from? Following the money trail back often leads to financially savvy women―not only empresses and queens, but also mistresses and favourites―who skillfully managed huge estates, treasuries, or accounts. This volume focuses on how women used money as an instrument of power in early modern royal courts.

Elizabeth: A Celebration in Photos: A Celebration in Photographs of the Queen’s Life and Reign 

Hardcover – 4 August 2020 (US) & 9 July 2020 (UK)

Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving monarch in British history. She has been a towering presence in British national life and throughout the world for almost 70 years and it is this extraodinary life that former BBC correspondent Jennie Bond explores and celebrates.

On February 6, 1952, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, became Queen on the death of her father, King George VI. The reign that was to see major changes both in the country and Commonwealth and in the role of the monarchy began far away from Britain in a game reserve in Kenya. Elizabeth: A Celebration in Photographs, looks at this remarkable period in the history of Britain’s monarchy in lavish and fascinating detail, featuring over 240 photographs.

Anna of Denmark: The material and visual culture of the Stuart courts, 1589–1619 (Studies in Design and Material Culture) 

Hardcover – 18 August 2020 (US) & 11 June 2020 (UK)

Approaching the Stuart courts through the lens of the queen consort, Anna of Denmark, this study is underpinned by three key themes: translating cultures, female agency and the role of kinship networks and genealogical identity for early modern royal women. Illustrated with a fascinating array of objects and artworks, the book follows a trajectory that begins with Anna’s exterior spaces before moving to the interior furnishings of her palaces, the material adornment of the royal body, an examination of Anna’s visual persona and a discussion of Anna’s performance of extraordinary rituals that follow her life cycle. Underpinned by a wealth of new archival research, the book provides a richer understanding of the breadth of Anna’s interests and the meanings generated by her actions, associations and possessions.

The Habsburgs: To Rule the World 

Hardcover – 25 August 2020 (US) & 12 May 2020 (UK)

In The Habsburgs, historian Martyn Rady tells the epic story of the Habsburg dynasty and the world it built — and then lost — over nearly a millennium, placing it in its European and global contexts. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the Habsburgs expanded from Swabia across southern Germany to Austria through forgery and good fortune. By the time a Habsburg duke was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III in 1452, he and his clan already held fast to the imperial vision distilled in its AEIOU motto: Austriae est imperare orbi universe, “Austria is destined to rule the world.” Maintaining their grip on the imperial succession of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries, the Habsburgs extended their power into Italy, Spain, the New World, and the Pacific, a dominion that Charles V called “the empire on which the sun never sets.” They then weathered centuries of religious warfare, revolution, and transformation, including the loss of their Spanish empire in 1700 and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. In 1867, the Habsburgs fatefully consolidated their remaining lands the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, setting in motion a chain of events that would end with the 1914 assassination of the Habsburg heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, World War I, and the end of the Habsburg era.

Albania and King Zog: Independence, Republic and Monarchy, 1908-1939 (Albania in the Twentieth Century) 

Paperback – 20 August 2020 (US & UK)

Albania in the Twentieth Century: A History represents an unparalleled achievement in scholarship on Albania. Owen Pearson presents a complete account of the twentieth century in Albania, from its breakaway from the Ottoman Empire in 1908 to the Kosova War in 1999. In fascinating detail, Pearson chronicles the monarchy of King Zog and the wartime period where Albania became a battleground for the Greek, Italian and German armies. He describes Enver Hoxha’s seizure of power, the country’s fraught relationship with the post-Stalin Soviet Union and Maoist China’s fraternal embrace of Albania, all leading to near-total isolationism and inevitable economic collapse. Pearson concludes with the genocide of Kosovar Albanians at the hands of the Serbian regime of Milosevic that characterised the last decade of twentieth century Albania. Comprising original research, and excerpts from rare Albanian sources, this is a compendium of primary source material that provides a year-by-year and sometimes day-by-day account of Albania’s modern history. It is an essential reference for all those interested in Albanian Balkan and Eastern European history.

Blood Royal: Dynastic Politics in Medieval Europe (The James Lydon Lectures in Medieval History and Culture) 

Hardcover – 6 August 2020 (US) & 9 July 2020 (UK)

Throughout medieval Europe, for hundreds of years, monarchy was the way that politics worked in most countries. This meant power was in the hands of a family – a dynasty; that politics was family politics; and political life was shaped by the births, marriages and deaths of the ruling family. How did the dynastic system cope with female rule, or pretenders to the throne? How did dynasties use names, the numbering of rulers and the visual display of heraldry to express their identity? And why did some royal families survive and thrive, while others did not? Drawing on a rich and memorable body of sources, this engaging and original history of dynastic power in Latin Christendom and Byzantium explores the role played by family dynamics and family consciousness in the politics of the royal and imperial dynasties of Europe. From royal marriages and the birth of sons, to female sovereigns, mistresses and wicked uncles, Robert Bartlett makes enthralling sense of the complex web of internal rivalries and loyalties of the ruling dynasties and casts fresh light on an essential feature of the medieval world.

The Daughters of George III: Sisters and Princesses 

Hardcover – 30 August 2020 (UK) & 19 November 2020 (US)

In the dying years of the 18th century, the corridors of Windsor echoed to the footsteps of six princesses. They were Charlotte, Augusta, Elizabeth, Mary, Sophia, and Amelia, the daughters of King George III and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Though more than fifteen years divided the births of the eldest sister from the youngest, these princesses all shared a longing for escape. Faced with their father’s illness and their mother’s dominance, for all but one a life away from the seclusion of the royal household seemed like an unobtainable dream. The six daughters of George III were raised to be young ladies and each in her time was one of the most eligible women in the world. Tutored in the arts of royal womanhood, they were trained from infancy in the skills vial to a regal wife but as the king’s illness ravaged him, husbands and opportunities slipped away. Yet even in isolation, the lives of the princesses were filled with incident. From secret romances to dashing equerries, rumours of pregnancy, clandestine marriage and even a run-in with Napoleon, each princess was the leading lady in her own story, whether tragic or inspirational. In The Royal Nunnery: Daughters of George III, take a wander through the hallways of the royal palaces, where the king’s endless ravings echo deep into the night and his daughters strive to be recognised not just as princesses, but as women too.

Catherine the Great: A Reference Guide to Her Life and Works (Significant Figures in World History) 

Hardcover – 15 July 2020 (UK) & 15 August 2020 (US)

Catherine the Great: A Reference Guide to Her Life and Works covers all aspects of her life and work. Empress Catherine the Great was one of the most famous and amazing women in world history. -Includes a detailed chronology of Catherine’s life, family, and work. -The A to Z section includes the major events, places, and people in Catherine’s life. -The bibliography includes a list of publications concerning her life and work. -The index thoroughly cross-references the chronological and encyclopedic entries.

The Grand Ducal House of Hesse 

Hardcover – 15 August 2020 (US)

This is the third German dynasty that Eurohistory publishes a book about, the first two being the Ducal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and the Royal House of Bavaria (Volume I). This project is the culmination of more than two decades of research conducted by the authors. Beéche having already cooperated on several books and articles with Ms. Miller, a regular contributor to Eurohistory, pairing for another collaborative project was seamless. The Hesse and by Rhine Dynasty is one which Ms. Miller, better-known for her extensive work on the four daughters of Grand Duchess Alice of Hesse and by Rhine, with particular interest on Victoria Milford Haven, also feels passionately about. The result of years of research in Europe allowed Ms. Miller a unique insight into the lives of these four tragic sisters. The storyline begins in 1567. This was the year when the sons of Landgrave Philip “the Magnanimous” divided his vast lands among them. All branches of the Hessian dynasty stem from this territorial division. The Grand Ducal House of Hesse and by Rhine is among the most important German dynasties. Its members form a kaleidoscope of unique human beings: military and religious leaders, peculiar and heroic figures, talented artists and scientists, patrons of the arts and music, visionary and romantic architects, lucky and tragic people, dilettantes more interested in passing by than making a mark. They simply had it all. Their mark, not only in Darmstadt, but also throughout the Rhineland, is palpable in nearly every aspect of the region’s history, arts, letters, music, and architecture.

sophia hanover

Sophia – Mother of Kings: The Finest Queen Britain Never Had

Paperback – 30 May 2020 (UK) & 19 August 2020 (US)

When Sophia Dorothea of Celle married her first cousin, the future King George I, she was an unhappy bride. Filled with dreams of romance and privilege, she hated the groom she called pig snout and wept at news of her engagement. In the austere court of Hanover, the vibrant young princess found herself ignored and unwanted. Bewildered by dusty protocol and regarded as a necessary evil by her husband, Sophia Dorothea grew lonely as he gallivanted with his mistress under her nose. When Sophia Dorothea plunged headlong into a passionate and dangerous affair with Count Phillip Christoph von Konigsmarck, the stage was set for disaster. This dashing soldier was as celebrated for his looks as his bravery, and when he and Sophia Dorothea fell in love, they were dicing with death. Watched by a scheming and manipulative countess who had ambitions of her own, it was only a matter of time before scandal gripped the House of Hanover and tore the marriage of the heir to the British throne and his unhappy wife apart. Divorced and disgraced, Sophia Dorothea was locked away in a gilded cage for 30 years, whilst her lover faced an even darker fate. The story of Sophia:Mother of Kings haunted George I to his dying day.

Mary Tudor: A Story of Triumph, Sorrow and Fire 

Paperback – 9 August 2020 (US & UK)

The Tudor Dynasty of England, spanning from the late fifteenth century into the early seventeenth century, were numerous emblematic and impacted the country politically, economically, and socially. One of those monarchs was Mary Tudor, the daughter of King Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. Mary ruled over England from July 1553 to her death in November 1558. Despite its initial promise and success, Mary Tudor’s reign was unsuccessful due to the increased influence of foreign power. Mary’s early life and struggle to the throne reflected her determination to rule, her strong religious conviction to Catholicism, and her reliance on Spain, her mother’s native country. Mary’s devotion to the Catholic faith and her inclination towards the Spanish would lead her to marry, Philip II of Spain, who would have a major influence on both her reign and her decline in popularity with her subjects. One such influence on Mary’s decision making was her decision to go to war with France. The war with France, although initially successful, ended as a failure; she lost territory in France and drained the country of revenue.


About Moniek Bloks 2250 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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