Book News November 2021

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When Women Ruled the World: Making the Renaissance in Europe 

Hardcover – 12 October 2021 (US) & 12 November 2021 (UK)

Sixteenth-century Europe was a time of destabilisation of age-old norms and the waging of religious wars―yet it also witnessed the remarkable flowering of a pacific culture cultivated by a cohort of extraordinary women rulers who sat on Europe’s thrones, most notably Mary Tudor; Elizabeth I; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Catherine de’ Medici.

Uncertain Powers: Sen’yōmon-in and Landownership by Royal Women in Early Medieval Japan (Harvard East Asian Monographs) 

Hardcover – 19 October 2021 (US) & 26 November 2021 (UK)

Uncertain Powers is an original and much-needed analysis of female leadership in medieval Japan. In challenging current scholarship by exploring the important political and economic roles of twelfth- and thirteenth-century Japanese royal women, Kawai questions the traditional view of the era as one dominated by male retired monarchs and a warrior government. Instead, the author populates it with royal wives and daughters who held the title of premier royal lady (nyoin) and owned extensive estates across the Japanese archipelago. Nyoin, whose power varied according to marital status, networks, and age, used their wealth and human networks to build temples and organise their entourages as salons to assert religious, cultural, and political influence. Confronted with social factors and gender disparities, they were motivated to develop coping strategies, the workings of which Kawai masterfully teases out from the abundant primary sources.


Queens of the Crusades: England’s Medieval Queens Book Two

Paperback – 2 November 2021 (US & UK)

The Plantagenet queens of England played a role in some of the most dramatic events in our history. Crusading queens, queens in rebellion against their king, seductive queens, learned queens, queens in battle, queens who enlivened England with the romantic culture of southern Europe—these determined women often broke through medieval constraints to exercise power and influence, for good and sometimes for ill.

Princess Mary: The First Modern Princess 

Hardcover – 1 November 2021 (US) & 5 February 2021 (UK)
Born in 1897, Princess Mary was the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Despite her Victorian beginnings, she strove to make a princess’ life meaningful, using her elevated position to help those less fortunate and defying gender conventions in the process. From her dedication to the war effort, visiting wounded soldiers and training as a nurse, to her role as a peacemaker during the Abdication Crisis, Mary was one princess who redefined the title for the modern age.

Anne: Last Queen of England (Penguin Monarchs) 

Hardcover – 1 November 2021 (US) & 27 April 2023 (UK)

[no info yet]

1001 Days: Memoirs of an Empress 

Hardcover – 16 November 2021 (US) & 2 December (UK)

This memoir by empress Farah Pahlavi looks back on her reign over an Iran so modern it is unrecognisable today―written just a few years before the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Island Queens and Mission Wives: How Gender and Empire Remade Hawai’i’s Pacific World (Gender and American Culture) 

Paperback – 2 November 2021 (US) & 30 November 2021 (UK)

In the late eighteenth century, Hawai’i’s ruling elite employed sophisticated methods for resisting foreign intrusion. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, American missionaries had gained a foothold in the islands. Jennifer Thigpen explains this important shift by focusing on two groups of women: missionary wives and high-ranking Hawaiian women. Examining the enduring and personal exchange between these groups, Thigpen argues that women’s relationships became vital to building and maintaining the diplomatic and political alliances that ultimately shaped the islands’ political future. Male missionaries’ early attempts to Christianize the Hawaiian people were based on racial and gender ideologies brought with them from the mainland, and they did not comprehend the authority of Hawaiian chiefly women in social, political, cultural, and religious matters. It was not until missionary wives, and powerful Hawaiian women developed relationships shaped by Hawaiian values and traditions–which situated Americans as guests of their beneficent hosts–that missionaries successfully introduced Christian religious and cultural values.

The Wives of George IV: The Secret Bride and the Scorned Princess 

Hardcover – 30 November 2021 (UK) & 30 January 2022 (US)

In Georgian England, few men were more fashionable or more eligible than George, Prince of Wales. Wild, glamorous, and with a penchant for beautiful women, the heir to George III’s throne was a very good catch -or so it seemed. The two women who married him might beg to differ. Maria Fitzherbert was a twice-widowed Roman Catholic with a natural aversion to trouble. When she married the prince in a secret ceremony conducted in her Mayfair sitting room, she opened the door on three decades of heartbreak. Cast aside by her husband one minute, pursued tirelessly by him the next, Maria’s clandestine marriage was anything but blissful. It was also the worst kept secret in England. Caroline of Brunswick was George’s official bride. Little did she know that her husband was marrying for money, and when she reached her new home in England, she found him so drunk that he couldn’t even walk to the altar. Caroline might not have her husband’s love, but the public adored her. In a world where radicalism was stirring, it was a recipe for disaster. In The Wives of George IV: The Secret Bride & the Scorned Princess, Maria and Caroline navigate the choppy waters of marriage to a capricious, womanising king-in-waiting. With a queen on trial for adultery and the succession itself in the balance, Britain had never seen scandal like it.

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

Paperback – 30 November 2021 (UK) & 30 January 2022 (US)

The history of women in medieval Wales before the English conquest of 1282 is one largely shrouded in mystery. For the Age of Princes, an era defined by ever-increased threats of foreign hegemony, internal dynastic strife and constant warfare, the comings and goings of women are little noted in sources. This misfortune touches even the most well-known royal woman of the time, Joan of England (d. 1237), the wife of Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd, illegitimate daughter of King John and half-sister to Henry III. With evidence of her hand in thwarting a full-scale English invasion of Wales to a notorious scandal that ended with the public execution of her supposed lover by her husband and her own imprisonment, Joan’s is a known but little-told or understood story defined by family turmoil, divided loyalties and political intrigue. 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 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.

Queen Elizabeth II: The Oral History 

Hardcover – 25 November 2021 (UK) & 1 February 2022 (US)

This lavishly produced hardback, with over 30 lesser-known photos, paints a full, detailed and global portrait of a life lived in service. Insightful accounts of events range from the early years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the shocking death of her father and the adjustment required of a newly married couple to more recent years, with coverage of Prince Philip’s retirement and the grandchildren’s marriages and families. Featuring interviews from diverse sources, including staff to family and friends, such as Lady Pamela Hicks, Queen Elizabeth II also includes memories from crucial international figures of the twentieth century, such as Nelson Mandela. Asking questions about conflict and change and the monarchy’s journey as a colonial institution, this is a revealing view into the workings of Buckingham Palace and the strengths and weaknesses of the Royal Family. In common with the global TV success of The Crown the Strober’s rich compilation also provides a history of modern British politics. Containing a broad spectrum of views on Queen Elizabeth II from her role as leader of the Commonwealth to her personality in private, this is an extraordinary insight into the ways in which the reign of the monarch has intersected and impacted others around the world.

La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters 

Paperback – 15 November 2021 (UK) & 15 February 2022 (US)

Mary Tudor’s childhood was overshadowed by the men in her life: her father, Henry VII, and her brothers Arthur, heir to the Tudor throne, and Henry VIII. These men and the beliefs held about women at the time helped to shape Mary’s life. She was trained to be a dutiful wife, and at the age of eighteen, Mary married the French king, Louis XII, thirty-four years her senior. When her husband died three months after the marriage, Mary took charge of her life and shaped her own destiny. As a young widow, Mary blossomed. This was the opportunity to show the world the strong, self-willed, determined woman she always had been. She remarried for love and at great personal risk to herself. She loved and respected Katherine of Aragon and despised Anne Boleyn – again, a dangerous position to take. Author Sarah Bryson has returned to primary sources, state papers and letters, to unearth the truth about this intelligent and passionate woman. This is the story of Mary Tudor, told through her own words for the first time.

A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette’s Perfumer 

Paperback – 11 November 2021 (UK) & unknown (US)

Montpellier, 1748: Jean-Louis Fargeon is born into a family of perfumers and soon becomes apprentice to his father’s modest perfumery. But he dreams of the glittering court of Versailles and of becoming perfumer to the young queen, Marie Antoinette. His ambition carried him to Paris, where his boutique became one of the most elegant and well-patronised in France. Concocting sumptuous perfumes and pomades for most of the French nobility, Fargeon eventually caught the attention of the queen. After meeting Marie Antoinette in the Trianon Palace, he began creating lavish bespoke scents that perfectly reflected her moods and personality.

Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II 

Hardcover – 4 November 2021 (UK) & unknown (US)

The British monarchy is one of the most iconic and enduring institutions in the world. It has weathered the storms of rebellion, revolution and war that brought many of Europe’s royal families to an abrupt and bloody end. Its unique survival owes much to the fact that, for all its ancient traditions and protocol, the royal family has proved remarkably responsive to change, evolving to reflect the times. But for much of its history, it also spearheaded seismic change, shaping our religious, political and cultural identity and establishing the British monarchy as the envy of the world.

Royal Witches: From Joan of Navarre to Elizabeth Woodville 

Paperback – 1 November 2021 (UK) & unknown (US)

In Royal Witches, Gemma Hollman explores the lives of these four unique women, looking at how rumours of witchcraft brought them to their knees in a time when superstition and suspicion was rife.

Medieval Women 

Hardcover – 30 November 2021 (UK) & 30 January 2022 (US)

A jewel of a book, this latest release from one of Pen & Sword’s women historians, contains a treasure trove of medieval dramatis personae, from the more mainstream figures such as Lady Godiva and Joan of Arc to the lesser-known Crusader Queens and mystics. For the first time together, we meet two elusive Jewish medieval businesswomen, one of whom was imprisoned in the Tower of London and the other who was likely one of the richest women in the world. Meticulously researched and clearly showing the author’s keen eye for detail, this latest offering from Michelle Rosenberg builds on her reputation for bringing back to life women often forgotten from mainstream history. Relatively new figures include the elusive Virdimura of Sicily and Julian of Norwich. The medieval period saw life expectancy at around 33 years old, with the vast majority of women unable to read or write. This text weaves together a rich and broad historical tapestry of women’s stories from the fall of the Roman Empire, the invasion of the Vikings, the First Crusade, the Hundred Years War and the Black Death. It offers an intriguing insight into medieval women whose lives were deemed outstanding enough (whether through exemplary religious conduct, queenly, consort or intellectual accomplishment or scandal) by their contemporaries to record. Their ability to endure, thrive and survive during a time when most women were subordinate to the men in their lives makes them extraordinary; it also makes the loss of so many other missing stories so acute and tantalising for what our collective history has been deprived of. Only imagine what richness of tales we might have had should more women’s lives have been better recorded for posterity.

[no cover yet]

Berenguela the Great and Her Times (1180-1246) (Medieval and Early Modern Iberian World) 

Hardcover – 18 November 2021 (US & UK)

This biography presents a remarkable vision of Spanish society at the beginning of the 13th century by exploring the life of Berenguela of Castile (c. 1179-1246), a queen who dominated public life for over forty years.

Begum and A Rani: Hazrat Mahal and Lakshmibai in 1857 

Hardcover – 15 November 2021 (US) & 21 July 2021 (UK)

Exploring the lives of two remarkable women who chose to enter a field of activity which, in the middle of the nineteenth century, was seen a male domain, this book brings to light how unusual circumstances catapulted Begum Hazrat Mahal of Awadh and Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi into the rebellion of 1857. Both of them sacrificed their lives trying to overthrow the British rule, which they considered to be alien and oppressive. Their resistance and their deaths are heroic and poignant. The book captures the different trajectories of their lives and their struggles.

About Moniek Bloks 2742 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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