Empress Alexandra: The Special Relationship Between Russia’s Last Tsarina and Queen Victoria
When Queen Victoria’s second daughter Princess Alice married the Prince Louis of Hesse and Rhine in 1862 even her own mother described the ceremony as more of a funeral than a wedding’ thanks to the fact that it took place shortly after the death of Alice’s beloved father Prince Albert. Sadly, the young princess’ misfortunes didn’t end there and when she also died prematurely, her four motherless daughters were taken under the wing of their formidable grandmother, Victoria. Alix, the youngest of Alice’s daughters and allegedly one of the most beautiful princesses in Europe, was a special favourite of the elderly queen, who hoped that she would marry her cousin Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and one day reign beside him as Queen. However, the spirited and stubborn Alix had other ideas.
Ladies in Waiting: a history of court life from the Tudors to the present day
Paperback – 25 June 2020 (UK)
For centuries, the most beautiful, able and aristocratic women in England competed for positions at court. Some who came to serve were remarkable for their learning and exemplary virtue, but others were notable for promiscuity and lack of scruple, drawn to court by a lust for money and power. Several ladies-in-waiting became royal mistresses, showing few qualms about betraying the queen consorts they ostensibly served. If bedding the King was not an option open to all, many ladies came to court in hope of finding husbands, only to succumb to constant assaults on their virtue or to find themselves denied permission by their sovereign to marry.
Drawing on an enormous variety of sources, Anne Somerset provides an illuminating guide to the character, profligate or pious, of each court.
Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, and Adultery in Versailles
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.
Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France and England, Mother of Empires
In the competition for remarkable queens, Eleanor of Aquitaine tends to win. In fact, her story sometimes seems so extreme it ought to be made up.
The headlines: orphaned as a child, duchess in her own right, Queen of FranceC crusader, survivor of a terrible battle, kidnapped by her own husband, captured by pirates, divorced for barrenness, Countess of Anjou, Queen of England, mother of at least five sons and three daughters, supporter of her sons’ rebellion against her own husband, his prisoner for fifteen years, ruler of England in her own right, traveller across the Pyrenees and Alps in winter in her late sixties and seventies, and mentor to the most remarkable queen medieval France was to know (her own granddaughter, obviously).
It might be thought that this material would need no embroidery. But the reality is that Eleanor of Aquitaine s life has been subjected to successive reinventions over the years, with the facts usually losing the battle with speculation and wishful thinking.
In this biography, Sara Cockerill has gone back to the primary sources and the wealth of recent first-rate scholarship, and assessed which of the claims about Eleanor can be sustained on the evidence. The result is a complete re-evaluation of this remarkable woman s even more remarkable life. A number of oft-repeated myths are debunked and a fresh vision of Eleanor emerges. In addition, the book includes the fruits of her own research, breaking new ground on Eleanor s relationship with the Church, her artistic patronage and her relationships with all of her children, including her family by her first marriage.
Lucrezia Borgia: Daughter of Pope Alexander VI (Vita Histria)
Lucrezia Borgia is among the most fascinating and controversial personalities of the Renaissance. The daughter of Pope Alexander VI, she was intensely involved in the political life of Italy during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. While her marriage alliances helped advance the political objectives of the papacy, she also held the office of Governor of Spoleto, a role normally reserved for Cardinals, making her one of the most powerful and dynamic female figures of the Renaissance. Among the first books to employ historical method to move beyond myth and romance that had obscured the fascinating story of Lucrezia Borgia was the biography written by the noted German historian Ferdinand Gregorovius. Ferdinand Gregorovius (1821-1891) was one of the preeminent scholars of the Italian Renaissance. His biography of Lucrezia Borgia reveals the atmosphere of the Renaissance, painting a portrait of Lucrezia and her relationships with her father Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, her brother Cesare, her mother Vanozza, her father’s mistress, Giulia Farnese, her husband Duke Alfonso D’Este of Ferrara, and many others, including important artists and writers of the time. All are vividly portrayed against the colorful background of Renaissance Italy. Gregorovius separates myth from documented fact and his book remains a key reference work on the life and times of the Borgia princess.
Empress Galla Placidia and the Fall of the Roman Empire
Despite being one of history’s most important women, the story of Galla Placidia’s life has been largely forgotten. Though the Roman empress witnessed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and lived a life of almost constant suffering, her actions helped postpone the fall of Rome and had massive, widespread impact on the empire that can still be felt today. She watched the barbarian king Alaric and his horde of Visigoth warriors sack Rome, slaughter many of the city’s inhabitants, and take her hostage. Surviving captivity, Galla Placidia became the queen of the barbarians who had imprisoned her. Eventually, she became the only woman to rule the Roman empire alone. Soldiers obeyed her commands while Popes and Christian saints alike sought her advice. Despite all obstacles and likely suffering from PTSD, she lived to old age. This book uses the letters and writings of Galla Placidia’s contemporaries to reconstruct, in more depth and detail than has yet been attempted, the remarkable story of her life and the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown
Paperback – 25 June 2020 (UK)
Anne Glenconner has been close to the Royal Family since childhood. Eldest child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, she was, as a daughter, described as ‘the greatest disappointment’ by her family as she was unable to inherit. Her childhood home Holkham Hall is one of the grandest estates in England. Bordering Sandringham the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were frequent playmates.
From Maid of Honour at the Queen’s Coronation to Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret, Lady Glenconner is a unique witness to royal history, as well as an extraordinary survivor of a generation of aristocratic women trapped without inheritance and burdened with social expectations.
She married the charismatic but highly volatile Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who became the owner of Mustique. Together they turned the island into a paradise for the rich and famous, including Mick Jagger and David Bowie, and it became a favourite retreat for Princess Margaret.
But beneath the glitz and glamour there has also lurked tragedy. On Lord Glenconner’s death in 2010 he left his fortune to a former employee. And of their five children, two grown-up sons died, while a third son had to be nursed back from a coma by Anne, after having suffered a near fatal accident.
Anne Glenconner writes with extraordinary wit, generosity and courage and she exposes what life was like in her gilded cage, revealing the role of her great friendship with Princess Margaret, and the freedom she can now finally enjoy in later life. She will appear as a character in the new series of The Crown this autumn.
Brief Life of the Queen
Paperback – 11 June 2020 (UK)
The finest short life of the monarch, by the ‘founding father’ of contemporary royal biography fully updated to within a month of publication. For more than thirty-five years Robert Lacey has been gathering stories from the members of the Queen’s inner circle – her friends, relatives, private secretaries and former prime ministers – and the results are distilled in this elegant hardback. Tracing her life through its major stages, and uncovering her greatest personal loves and trials, A Brief Life of the Queen offers the freshness of the first-hand insights and compelling storytelling for which Robert Lacey’s bestselling biographies are renowned. A succinct, personal and beautifully illustrated biography of Elizabeth II, who has managed to remain an enigma, despite being the most recognised woman in the world. AUTHOR: Robert Lacey is a British historian noted for his in-depth research and page-turning narrative style. He is the author of several international bestsellers including Majesty, The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Saud and Great Tales from English History. He is the historical consultant to the award-winning Netflix series The Crown, and author of The Official Companion to the Crown.
Elizabeth I: The Making of a Queen
Elizabeth I is arguably one of the greatest monarchs and women of English history. Against an uncertain political and religious backdrop of post-reformation Europe she ruled at the conception of social modernisation, living in the shadow of the infamy of her parents reputations and striving to prove herself an equal to the monarchs who had gone before her. This book seeks to explore some of the key events of her life both before and after she ascended to the English throne in late 1558\. By looking at the history of these selected events, as well as investigating the influence of various people in her life, this book sets out to explain Elizabeth’s decisions, both as a queen and as a woman. Amongst the events examined are the death of her mother, the role and fates of her subsequent step-mothers, the fate of Lady Jane Grey and the subsequent behaviour and reign of her half sister Mary Tudor, along with the death of Amy Dudley, the return of Mary Queen of Scots to Scotland, the Papal Bull and the Spanish Amanda.