I was really looking forward to the release of this book and I was lucky enough to receive a copy to review it. I’ve actually read some books by Elizabeth Norton before, she’s also the author of The Anne Boleyn Papers (which I got for Christmas!) and Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England among others.
England’s Queens were my very first interest, most notably Anne Boleyn. This particular book is actually a part one and discusses the Queens from Boudica to Elizabeth of York. There are some Queens who don’t have biographies of their own so it is nice to finally be able to read about them. I was surprised to learn that are definitely things that I have yet to learn. For example, I didn’t know that the Empress Matilda did have a child during her first marriage to Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor. The gender is not specified and the child died in its infancy.
The book spends a decent amount of time on each queen and even include some letters written by them that I had never seen before.
I desire every day to be certified of your good estate, which our
Lord grant that it may ever be as good as your heart desires, and as
I should wish it for myself. If it would please you to let me know of
it, you would give me great rejoicings in my heart, for every time
that I hear good news of you I am most perfectly glad at heart. And
if to know tidings from this side would give you pleasure, when
this was written my lord, I and our children were together in good
health of our persons, thanks to our Lord, who by his grace ever
grant you the same. I pray you, my dearest and most redoubted
lord, that it would ever please you to have the affairs of my said
lord well recommended, as well in reference to the deliverance of
his lands as other things, which lands in your hands are the cause
why he sends his people so promptly towards you. So may it please
you hereupon to provide him with your gracious remedy, in such
manner that he may enjoy his said lands peaceably; even as he
and I have our perfect surety and trust in you more than in any
other. And let me know your good pleasure, and I will accomplish
it willingly and with a good heart to my power.
– Joan of Navarre, wife of Henry IV of England
I give unnumbered thanks to your unceasing goodness, which, not
unmindful of me, has condescended, by your letters presented to
me, to shew forth your mind, though absent. The clouds of sadness
in which I was wrapped being expelled, the streamlet of your
words had glided through me like a ray of new light. I embrace the
little parchment sent to me by you, as I would my father himself: I
cherish it in my bosom, I place it as near my heart as I can; I read
over and over again the words flowing from the sweet fountain of
your goodness; my mind considers them. My heart broods over
them; and I hide the pondered treasures in the very secret place
of my heart. Yet, while I praise all you have said, at one thing
alone I wonder; that is, at what your discreet excellency has said
about your nephew. Yet I do not think I can deal otherwise withyour friends than my own.
I might say with ‘mine’ than my own,
for all who are yours by kindred are mine by love and adoption.
Truly the consolation of your writing strengthens my patience,
gives and preserves my hopes, raises me when falling, sustains
me when sliding, gladdens me when sorrowful, softens me when
angry, pacifies me when weeping. Farther, frequent though secret,
consultation promises the return of the father to his daughter, of the
lord to his handmaiden, of the pastor to his flock. I am encouraged
to hope the same thing from the confidence which I have in the
prayers of good men, and from the good will which, by skilfully
investigating, I find to be in the heart of my lord. His mind is better
disposed towards you than many men think; and I, favouring it,
and suggesting wherever I can, he will become yet more courteous
and reconciled to you. As to what he permits now to be done, in
reference to your return, he will permit more and better to be
done in future, when, according to time and opportunity, you shall
request it. But even though he should persist in being an unjust
judge, I entreat the affluence of your piety, that, excluding the
bitterness of human rancour, which is not wont to dwell in you, you
turn not from him the sweetness of your favour, but ever prove a
pious intercessor with God for him and me, our common offspring,
and the state of our kingdom. May your holiness ever fare well.
– Matilda of Scotland, wife of Henry I of England
I love reading things like this as it adds an extra dimension to each queen’s story. I love Elizabeth Norton’s writing style and this book gives an excellent glimpse into the lives of these women. I would highly recommend it to all history lovers. I’m really looking forward to the second part, which will go all the way to the House of Windsor. (UK & US)
I hope your book is available to genealogy research at family search.org, ancestry and others. At least some interesting historical quotes relating to their lives to stimulate further interest in the books. Thank you for your due diligence to women of history.