Book News November 2020

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The Lives of Saint Constantina: Introduction, Translations, and Commentaries (Oxford Early Christian Texts)

Hardcover – 4 November 2020 (UK) & 4 January 2021 (US)

Constantina, daughter of the fourth-century emperor Constantine who so famously converted to Christianity, deserves a place of her own in the history of Christianity. As both poet and church-builder, she was an early patron of the Roman cult of the virgin martyr Agnes and was buried ad sanctam in a sumptuously mosaicked mausoleum that still stands. What has been very nearly forgotten is that the twice-married Constantina also came to be viewed as a virgin saint in her own right, said to have been converted and healed of leprosy by Saint Agnes. This volume publishes for the first time critical editions and English translations of three Latin hagiographies dedicated to the empress, offering an introduction and commentaries to contextualize these virtually unknown works.

The Trouble with Women in Power: Leaders Who Dared to Change the World 

Hardcover – 26 November 2020 (UK) & 16 February 2021 (US)

From Cleopatra to Margaret Thatcher, and from Christine Lagarde to Joan of Arc, this book focuses on powerful women across the centuries and geographical zones.

At the head of military operations, at the origin of revolutionary laws, dictatorial rulers or emblems of an entire people, these strong-willed women continue to fascinate and inspire. The text―richly illustrated by portraits, photographs, and mythical scenes―also addresses the question of their representations and their attributes of power.

In the history of world rulers, only a relatively small number of women have gained and retained places of power. In order to overcome misogyny, archaic laws governing inheritance, and the constraints of religious fervor, the women featured here incarnate exceptional determination and strength of character. Their stories―often riveting tales of courage in the face of injustice―offer fascinating and rich inspiration.

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

Hardcover – 15 November 2020 (UK) & 15 September 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.

Queens of the Crusades: Eleanor of Aquitaine and her Successors (England’s Medieval Queens)

Hardcover – 5 November 2020 (US & UK)

Alison Weir’s ground-breaking history of the queens of medieval England now moves into a period of even higher drama, from 1154 to 1291: years of chivalry, dynastic ambition, conflict with the church, baronial wars, and the all-pervading bonds of feudalism. We see events such as the murder of Becket, Magna Carta and the birth of parliaments from a new perspective. Her narrative begins with the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose marriage to Henry II establishes a dynasty which rules for over three hundred years and creates the most powerful empire in western Christendom – but also sows the seeds for some of the most destructive family conflicts in history and for the collapse, under her son King John, of England’s power in Europe. The lives of Eleanor’s successors were just as remarkable: Berengaria of Navarre, queen of Richard the Lionheart, Isabella of Angoulême, queen of John, and Alienor of Provence, queen of Henry III, and finally Eleanor of Castile, the grasping but beloved wife of Edward I.

Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie 

Paperback – 21 November 2020 (UK) & 21 September 2020 (US)

This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family’s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turned prison. It was also known as the “waiting room for the guillotine” because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their conviction and subsequent execution. The ex-queen surely knew her days were numbered, but she could never have known that two and a half months would pass before she would finally stand trial and be convicted of the most ungodly charges. Will Bashor traces the final days of the prisoner registered only as Widow Capet, No. 280, a time that was a cruel mixture of grandeur, humiliation, and terror. Marie Antoinette’s reign amidst the splendors of the court of Versailles is a familiar story, but her final imprisonment in a fetid, dank dungeon is a little-known coda to a once-charmed life. Her seventy-six days in this terrifying prison can only be described as the darkest and most horrific of the fallen queen’s life, vividly recaptured in this richly researched history.

Queens: 3,000 Years of the Most Powerful Women in History 

Paperback – 5 November 2020 (UK & US)

Queens – over 3,000 years of incredible women who ruled the world!
Celebrating strong, brave women across the centuries and around the world, Queens tells their stories of strength and resilience.

Spanning 3,000 years from Cleopatra to the Viking queens, Queen Nanny of Jamaica to HRH Elizabeth II, discover new stories about fierce female monarchs.

Full to the brim with striking, vibrant illustrations and bursting with facts about the queens’ pets, costume, homes, make-up, jewellery, and much much more.

The Afterlife of Anne Boleyn: Representations of Anne Boleyn in Fiction and on the Screen (Queenship and Power)

Hardcover – 19 November 2020 (US & UK)

This book explores 500 years of poetry, drama, novels, television and films about Anne Boleyn. Hundreds of writers across the centuries have been drawn to reimagine the story of her rise and fall. The Afterlife of Anne Boleyn tells the story of centuries of these shifting and often contradictory ways of understanding the narrative of Henry VIII’s most infamous queen. Since her execution on 19 May 1536, Anne’s life and body has been a site upon which competing religious, political and sexual ideologies have been inscribed; a practice that continues to this day. From the poetry of Thomas Wyatt to the songs of the hit pop musical SixThe Afterlife of Anne Boleyn takes as its central contention the belief that the mythology that surrounds Anne Boleyn is as interesting, revealing, and surprising as the woman herself.

The Daughters of George III: Sisters and Princesses 

Hardcover – 30 August 2020 (UK) & 23 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.

Espionage in the Divided Stuart Dynasty: 1685-1715 

Hardcover – 23 November 2020 (US) & 14 September 2020 (UK)

King James II was the Catholic king of a Protestant nation, but he had inherited a secure crown and was able to put down the rebellion by his nephew the Duke of Monmouth. In just over three years James had been deserted by those he loved and trusted and had to flee to France in exile. His throne was seized by his son-in-law and daughter, and when they died, his younger daughter succeeded. For James it was a personal tragedy of King Lear proportions; for most of his subjects it was a ‘Glorious Revolution’ that saved his kingdoms from Popery.Over the next hundred years James or his descendants would attempt to win back the crown with French support and conspiring with British Jacobites and Tories. In Espionage in the Divided Stuart Dynasty, Julian Whitehead charts the inner workings of government intelligence during this unstable period, where it was by no means a forgone conclusion that James or his heirs would never regain the throne. It throws light on the murky world of spies and double agents at a time of intensive intrigue and betrayal, with many politicians and peers trying to keep a foot in both camps. It was especially important in such circumstances for a monarch to receive good intelligence about the many intrigues, but could those providing the intelligence be trusted?


Empress Alexandra: The Special Relationship Between Russia’s Last Tsarina and Queen Victoria 

Hardcover – 23 November 2020 (US) & 14 September 2020 (UK)

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 favorite 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…

Joan, Lady of Wales: Power and Politics of King John’s Daughter 

Hardcover – 23 November 2020 (US) & 14 September 2020 (UK)

From the time her hand was promised in marriage as the result of the first Welsh-English alliance in 1201 to the end of her life, Joan’s place in the political wranglings between England and the Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd was a fundamental one. As the first woman to be designated Lady of Wales, her role as one a political diplomat in early thirteenth-century Anglo-Welsh relations was instrumental. This first-ever account of Siwan, as she was known to the Welsh, interweaves the details of her life and relationships with a gendered re-assessment of Anglo-Welsh politics by highlighting her involvement in affairs, discussing events in which she may well have been involved but have gone unrecorded and her overall deployment of royal female agency.

Sabina Augusta: An Imperial Journey

Paperback – 1 November 2020 (US) & 3 December 2020 (UK)

Sabina Augusta (ca. 85-ca. 137), wife of the emperor Hadrian (reigned 117-38), accumulated more public honors in Rome and the provinces than any imperial woman had enjoyed since the first empress, Augustus’ wife Livia. Indeed, Sabina is the first woman whose image features on a regular and continuous series of coins minted at Rome. She was the most travelled and visible empress to date. Hadrian also deified his wife upon her death.

Children Of The Empire: The Extraordinary Lives of Queen Victoria’s Children and Grandchildren 

Paperback – 28 November 2020 (UK) & Unknown (US)

Some lost their thrones. Others supported the Nazis. Several suffered from haemophilia. One had to get a job, and another was executed! Written entirely in the first person and fully based on accurate historical accounts, Michael Farah imagines how this royal family would have described the events of their extraordinary existence, scandals, loves, triumphs and tragedies. In Children of The Empire, forty-seven children and grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert individually tell the stories of their lives, from their early childhood to the very end. Complete with individual portraits and family trees, this is an accessible and unique look at the extended royal family that has stretched across Europe, some of them becoming Kings and Queens.

Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’ 

Paperback – 15 November 2020 (UK) & 15 February 2021 (US)

Anna was the ‘last woman standing’ of Henry VIII’s wives ‒ and the only one buried in Westminster Abbey. How did she manage it? Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s ‘Beloved Sister’ looks at Anna from a new perspective, as a woman from the Holy Roman Empire and not as a woman living almost by accident in England. Starting with what Anna’s life as a child and young woman was like, the author describes the climate of the Cleves court, and the achievements of Anna’s siblings. It looks at the political issues on the Continent that transformed Anna’s native land of Cleves ‒ notably the court of Anna’s brother-in-law, and its influence on Lutheranism ‒ and Anna’s blighted marriage. Finally, Heather Darsie explores ways in which Anna influenced her step-daughters Elizabeth and Mary, and the evidence of their good relationships with her. Was the Duchess Anna in fact a political refugee, supported by Henry VIII? Was she a role model for Elizabeth I? Why was the marriage doomed from the outset? By returning to the primary sources and visiting archives and museums all over Europe (the author is fluent in German, and proficient in French and Spanish) a very different figure emerges to the ‘Flanders Mare’.

Young Elizabeth: One Extraordinary African Summer in the Life of the Princess 

Paperback – 5 November 2020 (UK) & 4 May 2021 (US)

The year of the royal tour of southern Africa, 1947, marked both the high-water mark of the British Empire and the very moment at which it began to unravel. Graham Viney has written an intimate, revealing portrait of the young princess on tour with her parents and sister, Princess Margaret, hard at work in the national interest, and succeeding triumphantly against all odds. In the words of Rian Malan, South African author of My Traitor’s Heart, it is ‘a story about a country teetering on the brink of convulsive change and yet almost united, at least for a moment, by love for a king and queen who weren’t really ours.’

About Moniek Bloks 2748 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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