Book News October 2018

The First Iron Lady

Paperback – 18 October 2018 (UK)

History has forgotten Caroline of Ansbach, yet in her lifetime she was compared frequently to Elizabeth I and considered by some as ‘the cleverest queen consort Britain ever had’.

The intellectual superior of her buffoonish husband George II, Caroline is credited with hastening the Enlightenment to Britain through her sponsorship of red-hot debates about science, religion, philosophy and the nature of the universe. Encouraged by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, she championed inoculation; inspired by her friends Leibniz and Samuel Clarke, she mugged up on Newtonian physics; she embraced a salon culture which promoted developments in music, literature and garden design; she was a regular theatre-goer who loved the opera, gambling and dancing. Her intimates marvelled at the breadth of her interests. She was, said Lord Egmont, ‘curious in everything’.

Caroline acted as Regent four times while her husband returned to Hanover, and during those periods she possessed authority over all domestic matters. No subsequent royal woman has exercised power on such a scale. So why has history forgotten this extraordinary queen?

In this magnificent biography, the first for over seventy years, Matthew Dennison seeks to reverse this neglect. The First Iron Lady uncovers the complexities of Caroline’s multifaceted life: the child of a minor German princeling who, through intelligence, determination and a dash of sex appeal, rose to occupy one of the great positions of the world and did so with distinction, élan and a degree of cynical realism. It is a remarkable portrait of an eighteenth-century woman of great political astuteness and ambition, a radical icon of female power.

 

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

Hardcover – 15 June 2018 (UK) & 1 October 2018 (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.

Catherine the Great: Selected Letters (Oxford World’s Classics)

Paperback – 1 July 2018 (UK) & 1 October 2018 (US)

Catherine the Great’s letters present a vivid picture of Russia in a momentous age. They also offer a unique account of her personal development and intimate life, her strategic acumen as a diplomat and military commander, and her political skills at the Russian court and in handling foreign monarchs. Born a German princess, Catherine married into the Russian royal family and came to the throne after a coup. As absolute ruler for 34 years she presided over the expansion of the Russian empire, legislated actively to reform the country in keeping with the principles of the Enlightenment, actively promoted the arts and sciences, and in her correspondence engaged with the most renowned minds in Europe, among them Diderot and Voltaire. Her letters are her literary masterpiece, written to a wide circle of associates and friends, not least her most celebrated lover and ally, Potemkin. Combining her wit, charm, and quick eye for detail, they entertain and tell the griping story of a self-made woman and legendary ruler.

This edition of the letters offers a taste of Catherine’s entire writing career, with biographies of Catherine’s addressees, a thorough overview of her reign and an analysis of Catherine’s literary skill as a letter-writer. Organized chronologically and thematically into six periods, each section also features an introduction to the domestic, personal and foreign policy contexts out of which her letters emerge.

Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits

Hardcover – 6 September 2018 (UK) & 23 October 2018 (US)

The Collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London, embraces over 500 years of British history, more than 60,000 sitters and explores ideas of social change, power and influence. Arguably as powerful and influential as any individual are the heads of state and empire, whose portraits are among the most popular in the Gallery’s Collection.

For the exhibition that accompanies this book, the portraits of kings, queens, statesmen and stateswomen featured will go on tour for the first time, providing international audiences with the opportunity to encounter these famous historical and contemporary personalities face to face. The publication traces major events in British history and examine s the ways in which royal portraiture has reflected individual sitters’ personalities and wider social, cultural and historical change. Works are arranged chronologically in sections, each of which is prefaced by an introductory text and timeline providing context to the period in question. Particularly significant portraits from each period are accompanied by extended captions that provide key information on the sitter and the artist. Tudors to Windsors also consider s how each dynasty has been perceived and interpreted subsequently, with reference to popular culture and contemporary sources.

A number of features on topics such as Royal Favourites, Royal Weddings, Satire, Royal sat War, and Royal Fashion and Jewellery provide insight s into particular aspects of royal portraiture and trends within the genre.

The publication includes a foreword by the Gallery’s Director, a fully illustrated introductory essay discussing royal patronage and key artists in royal portraiture, and an essay by David Cannadine on the historical role of the monarchy in Britain.

An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew

Paperback – 30 October 2018 (US & UK

The true story of a girl from the wilderness settlements of a burgeoning new America who became one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age.

Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea that the mercurial charmer she would impulsively wed was heir to one of the wealthiest families in America. But when he died twelve years later, Allene packed her bags for New York City. Never once did she look back.

From the vantage point of the American upper class, Allene embodied the tumultuous Gilded Age. Over the course of four more marriages, she weathered personal tragedies during World War I and the catastrophic financial reversals of the crash of 1929. From the castles and châteaus of Europe, she witnessed the Russian Revolution and became a princess. And from the hopes of a young girl from Jamestown, New York, Allene Tew would become the epitome of both a pursuer and survivor of the American Dream.

Elizabeth Revealed: 500 Facts about the Queen and Her World

Hardcover – 26 September 2018 (UK) & 31 October 2018 (US)

Elizabeth Revealed is a lively and affectionate celebration of The Queen’s long and eventful life. This gorgeously illustrated book blends personal and public, frivolous and factual in a tribute to an extraordinary woman and the sweeping social changes she has lived through. The enjoyable ‘500 Facts’ format highlights surprising aspects of The Queen’s intimate life, the good and the bad years. It offers illuminating glimpses into a changing monarchy and royal family life as an elegant young princess developed into the most famous woman in the world.

Queen Caroline and Sir William Gell: A Study in Royal Patronage and Classical Scholarship (Queenship and Power)

Hardcover – 29 October 2018 (US & UK)

This book explores the relationship between Queen Caroline, one of the most enigmatic characters in Regency England, and Sir William Gell, the leading classical scholar of his day. Despised and rejected by her husband, Caroline created a sphere and court of her own through patronage of scholarship.  The primary beneficiary was Gell, a pioneering scholar of the classical world who opened new dimensions in the study of ancient Troy, mainland Greece, and Ithaca.  Despite his achievements, Gell had scarce financial resources.  Support from Caroline enabled him to establish himself in Italy and conduct his seminal work about ancient Rome and, especially, Pompeii, until her sensational trial before the House of Lords and premature death. Concluding with the first scholarly transcription of the extraordinary series of letters that Caroline wrote to Gell, this volume illuminates how Caroline sought power through patronage, and how Gell shaped classical scholarship in nineteenth-century Britain.

Behind the Throne: A Domestic History of the Royal Household

Hardcover – 2 October 2018 (US & UK)

Behind the Throne is a history of family life.

The families concerned were royal families. But they still had to get up in the morning. They ate and entertained their friends and worried about money. Henry VIII kept tripping over his dogs. George II threw his son out of the house. James I had to cut back on the drink bills.

The great difference is that royal families had more help with their lives than most. Charles I maintained a household of 2,000 people. Victoria’s medical establishment alone consisted of thirty doctors, three dentists and a chiropodist. Even in today’s more democratic climate, Elizabeth II keeps a full-time staff of 1,200. A royal household was a community, a vast machine. Everyone, from James I’s Master of the Horse down to William IV’s Assistant Table Decker, was there to smooth the sovereign’s path through life while simultaneously confirming his or her status.

Behind the Throne uncovers the reality of five centuries of life at the English court, taking the reader on a remarkable journey from one Queen Elizabeth to another and exploring life as it was lived by clerks and courtiers and clowns and crowned heads: the power struggles and petty rivalries, the tension between duty and desire; the practicalities of cooking dinner for thousands, or ensuring the king always won when he played a game of tennis.

Behind the Throne is nothing less than a domestic history of the royal household, a reconstruction of life behind the throne. Readers go on progress with Elizabeth I as she takes her court and her majesty to her subjects. They dance the conga round the state rooms of Buckingham Palace with George VI.

They find out what it was like to dine with queens, and walk with kings.

The Private Life of Victoria: Queen, Empress, Mother of the Nation

Paperback – 1 October 2018 (US &UK)

Now the second-longest-reigning monarch after Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria ruled at the height of Britain’s power on the world stage and was a symbol of stability at home and abroad. Against this background of pomp and power, she was a passionate woman who led an often turbulent private life. Victoria was just eight months old when her father died and his paternal role was taken by her uncle Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Sir John Conroy, an ally of her mother. The two of them sought to control Victoria and isolate her from others. This is the story of the Queen of England who had to fight to forge her own way in the world, and who found true romance with Prince Albert only to have happiness snatched from her when he died of typhoid at the age of 42.

Henrietta Maria

Paperback – 15 May 2018 (UK) & 1 October 2018 (US)

At the heart of the English Civil War stands the wife of Charles I, Henrietta Maria. She came to England in 1625 at the age of fifteen, undermined by her greedy French entourage, blocked by the forceful Duke of Buckingham and weighed down by instructions from the Pope to protect the Catholics of England. She was only a girl, and she had hardly a winning card in her hand; yet fifteen years later she was the terror of Parliament. We see Henrietta Maria in the portraits of van Dyck, and hear her voice in the letters which she wrote to her husband and many others. She is a historic queen who inherited from her father, the great French statesman Henri IV, undying convictions about royal and divine authority and about just governance. There was always brutal violence in the background of her life from the early moments (her father was assassinated when she was six months old); she lived through civil war both in England and in France (the Fronde); she was tortured by the fate of Charles I; but her spirit – and her family – prevailed. Two of her children sat on the throne of England (Charles II and James II) and three of her grandchildren followed them (William III, Mary II and Anne). Her life is a story of elegance, courage, wit, energy and family devotion on a grand scale.

When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

Hardcover – 30 October 2018 (US) & 28 November 2018 (UK)

Female rulers are a rare phenomenon–but thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, women reigned supreme. Regularly, repeatedly, and with impunity, queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra controlled the totalitarian state as power-brokers and rulers. But throughout human history, women in positions of power were more often used as political pawns in a male-dominated society. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind of access to the highest political office? What was it about these women that allowed them to transcend patriarchal obstacles? What did Egypt gain from its liberal reliance on female leadership, and could today’s world learn from its example?

Celebrated Egyptologist Kara Cooney delivers a fascinating tale of female power, exploring the reasons why it has seldom been allowed through the ages, and why we should care.

Domina: The Women Who Made Imperial Rome

Hardcover – 30 October 2018 (US) & 25 September 2018 (UK)

Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero—these are the names history associates with the early Roman Empire. Yet, not a single one of these emperors was the blood son of his predecessor. In this captivating history, a prominent scholar of the era documents the Julio-Claudian women whose bloodline, ambition, and ruthlessness made it possible for the emperors’ line to continue.

Eminent scholar Guy de la Bédoyère, author of Praetorian, asserts that the women behind the scenes—including Livia, Octavia, and the elder and younger Agrippina—were the true backbone of the dynasty. De la Bédoyère draws on the accounts of ancient Roman historians to revisit a familiar time from a completely fresh vantage point. Anyone who enjoys I, Claudius will be fascinated by this study of dynastic power and gender interplay in ancient Rome.

Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia: The Philosopher Princess

Hardcover – 15 October 2018 (US & UK)

Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618–1680) was the daughter of the Elector Palatine, Frederick V, King of Bohemia, and Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James VI and I of Scotland and England. A princess born into one of the most prominent Protestant dynasties of the age, Elisabeth was one of the great female intellectuals of seventeenth-century Europe. This book examines her life and thought. It is the story of an exiled princess, a grief-stricken woman whose family was beset by tragedy and whose life was marked by poverty, depression, and chronic illness. It is also the story of how that same woman’s strength of character, unswerving faith, and extraordinary mind saw her emerge as one of the most renowned scholars of the age. It is the story of how one woman navigated the tumultuous waters of seventeenth-century politics, religion, and scholarship, fought for her family’s ancestral rights, and helped established one of the first networks of female scholars in Western Europe.

Drawing on her correspondence with René Descartes, as well as the letters, diaries, and writings of her family, friends, and intellectual associates, this book contributes to the recovery of Elisabeth’s place in the history of philosophy. It demonstrates that although she is routinely marginalized in contemporary accounts of seventeenth-century thought, overshadowed by the more famous male philosophers she corresponded with, or dismissed as little more than a “learned maiden,” Elisabeth was a philosopher in her own right who made a significant contribution to modern understandings of the relationship between the body and the mind, challenged dominant accounts of the nature of the emotions, and provided insightful commentaries on subjects as varied as the nature and causes of illness to the essence of virtue and Machiavelli’s The Prince.

Entertaining the Braganzas: When Queen Maria of Portugal visited William Stephens in 1788

Hardcover – 30 October 2018 (UK & US)

Maria I of Portugal was a monarch with absolute power. William Stephens was the illegitimate son of a Cornish servant girl; he sailed for Lisbon at the age of fifteen to become one of the richest industrialists in Europe. The contrast between these two people could not have been greater – they were poles apart in every facet of their lives – yet they formed an unlikely friendship in the stifling formality of the Portuguese court. William, a man of genius, built up a thriving glass factory in a small village seventy miles north of Lisbon. Maria, the reigning queen of Portugal, spent three days here in the summer of 1788, sleeping for two nights in the house of an Englishman, a man who was not only low-born and illegitimate, but also a Protestant, a heretic in the eyes of the Portuguese. Entertaining the Braganzas is the story of this unique event in royal history, an intimate glimpse into the world of absolute monarchy, a snapshot of court life in the old Europe, just one year before the French Revolution began to change the face of the continent. It is also the story of two extraordinary people whose very different lives came together at a time of great upheaval in European history.

Blood Roses: The Houses of Lancaster and York before the Wars of the Roses

Hardcover – 1 October 2018 (UK)

In 1453, Richard, Duke of York, claimed the throne of England from his Lancastrian kinsman Henry VI, and set off a series of conflicts between rival branches of the English royal family, better known as the Wars of the Roses. Blood Roses traces the origins of this bitter rivalry all the way back to 1245 with the birth of the first Earl of Lancaster, Henry III’s younger son, Edmund. Thomas, the second Earl, was the first cousin and most dangerous enemy of King Edward II, and ended up being executed after a decade and half of rivalry and conflict. Thomas’s nephew Henry, the first Duke of Lancaster, was one of the great figures of the fourteenth century and was the father-in-law of Edward III’s third son John of Gaunt, probably the most famous member of the House of Lancaster. Edward III’s fourth son Edmund of Langley founded the House of York in 1385; his son Edward was killed at Agincourt in 1415 and was the uncle of Richard, duke of York. Blood Roses takes the reader through 170 years of bloody warfare and political intrigue, and sets the scene for one of the most famous conflicts in English history.

Dancing Queen: Marie de Médicis’ Ballets at the Court of Henri IV

Hardcover – 11 October 2018 (US) & 24 October 2018 (UK)

Under glittering lights in the Louvre palace, the French court ballets danced by Queen Marie de Médicis prior to Henri IV’s assassination in 1610 attracted thousands of spectators ranging from pickpockets to ambassadors from across Europe. Drawing on newly discovered primary sources as well as theories and methodologies derived from literary studies, political history, musicology, dance studies, and women’s and gender studies, Dancing Queen traces how Marie’s ballets authorized her incipient political authority through innovative verbal and visual imagery, avant-garde musical developments, and ceremonial arrangements of objects and bodies in space. Making use of women’s “semi-official” status as political agents, Marie’s ballets also manipulated the subtle social and cultural codes of international courtly society in order to more deftly navigate rivalries and alliances both at home and abroad. At times the queen’s productions could challenge Henri IV’s immediate interests, contesting the influence enjoyed by his mistresses or giving space to implied critiques of official foreign policy, for example. Such defenses of Marie’s own position, though, took shape as part of a larger governmental program designed to promote the French consort queen’s political authority not in its own right but as a means of maintaining power for the new Bourbon monarchy in the event of Henri IV’s untimely death.

Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Political Agency, Myth-Making, and Patronage

Paperback – 8 October 2018 (UK) & 10 October (US)

Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe examines queens dowager and queens consort who have disappeared from history or have been deeply misunderstood in modern historical treatment.

Divided into eleven chapters, this book covers queenship from 1016 to 1800, demonstrating the influence of queens in different aspects of monarchy over eight centuries and furthering our knowledge of the roles and challenges that they faced. It also promotes a deeper understanding of the methods of power and patronage for women who were not queens, many of which have since become mythologized into what historians have wanted them to be. The chronological organisation of the book, meanwhile, allows the reader to see more clearly how these forgotten queens are related by the power, agency, and patronage they displayed, despite the mythologization to which they have all been subjected.

Offering a broad geographical coverage and providing a comparison of queenship across a range of disciplines, such as religious history, art history, and literature, Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe is ideal for students and scholars of pre-modern queenship and of medieval and early modern history courses more generally.



About Moniek 1089 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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