The Empress of Art: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia
Ruthless and passionate, Catherine the Great is singularly responsible for amassing one of the most awe-inspiring collections of art in the world and turning St. Petersburg in to a world wonder. The Empress of Art brings to life the creation of this captivating woman’s greatest legacy
An art-oriented biography of the mighty Catherine the Great, who rose from seemingly innocuous beginnings to become one of the most powerful people in the world. A German princess who married a decadent and lazy Russian prince, Catherine mobilized support amongst the Russian nobles, playing off of her husband’s increasing corruption and abuse of power. She then staged a coup that ended with him being strangled with his own scarf in the halls of the palace, and she being crowned the Empress of Russia.
Intelligent and determined, Catherine modeled herself off of her grandfather in-law, Peter the Great, and sought to further modernize and westernize Russia. She believed that the best way to do this was through a ravenous acquisition of art, which Catherine often used as a form of diplomacy with other powers throughout Europe. She was a self-proclaimed “glutton for art” and she would be responsible for the creation of the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world, second only to the Louvre. Catherine also spearheaded the further expansion of St. Petersburg, and the magnificent architectural wonder the city became is largely her doing. There are few women in history more fascinating than Catherine the great, and for the first time, Susan Jaques brings her to life through the prism of art.
Royal Marriage Alliances in the Carolingian Empire (Studies in Early Medieval History)
Royal Marriage Alliances in the Carolingian Empire is a concise guide to marriage practices and alliances in the Frankish kingdoms during the period of Carolingian rule in Europe, AD 751-987. Taking into account previous scholarship on the subject, assumptions which have been applied to the era from investigation of an individual reign or region are re-evaluated. The book illuminates the patterns underlying marriage practices through a comprehensive survey of the period. After depicting the political and geographical background of the Carolingian Empire and placing marriages in their historical context, a brief survey sets forth those Carolingians who married or who failed to marry, before examining the reasons for and against marriage, the methods by which betrothals and marriages were formed, what happened over the course of a marriage, and what happened when, through death, divorce or annulment, a marriage came to an end. Elucidating the reasons and circumstances surrounding royal marriage alliances, and examining the ways in which marriage alliances affected both members of the partnership, Royal Marriage Alliances in the Carolingian Empire is an original, diachronic study of the role of marriage in political history and gender in royal marriages in this historical era.
Katherine Howard: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII’s Fifth Queen
Hardcover – 7 Apr 2016 (UK & US)
Looming out of the encroaching darkness of the February evening was London Bridge, still ornamented with the severed heads of Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham; the terrible price they had paid for suspected intimacy with the queen.
Katherine now reached the Tower of London, her final destination.
Katherine Howard was the fifth wife of Henry VIII and cousin to the executed Anne Boleyn. She first came to court as a young girl of fourteen, but even prior to that her fate had been sealed and she was doomed to die. She was beheaded in 1542 for crimes of adultery and treason, in one of the most sensational scandals of the Tudor age. The traditional story of Henry VIII’s fifth queen dwells on her sexual exploits before she married the king, and her execution is seen as her just dessert for having led an abominable life. However, the true story of Katherine Howard could not be more different.
Far from being a dark tale of court factionalism and conspiracy, Katherine’s story is one of child abuse, family ambition, religious conflict and political and sexual intrigue. It is also a tragic love story. A bright, kind and intelligent young woman, Katherine was fond of clothes and dancing, yet she also had a strong sense of duty and tried to be a good wife to Henry. She handled herself with grace and queenly dignity to the end, even as the barge carrying her on her final journey drew up at the Tower of London, where she was to be executed for high treason.
Little more than a child in a man’s world, she was the tragic victim of those who held positions of authority over her, and from whose influence she was never able to escape.
The Other Tudor Princess: Margaret Douglas, Henry VIII’s Niece
The Other Tudor Princess brings to life the story of Margaret Douglas, a shadowy and mysterious character in Tudor history – but who now takes centre stage in this tale of the bitter struggle for power during the reign of Henry VIII. Margaret is Henry’s beloved niece, but she defies the king by indulging in two scandalous affairs and is imprisoned in the Tower of London on three occasions ‘not for matters of treason, but for love’. Yet, when Henry turns against his second wife Anne Boleyn and declares his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, bastards, it is Margaret he appoints as his heir to the throne. The arrangement of the marriage of Margaret’s son, Lord Darnley, to his cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots unites their claim to the throne and infuriates Queen Elizabeth. Yet this match brings tragedy, as Margaret’s son is brutally murdered. As Margaret reaches old age, her place in the dynasty is still not safe, and she dies in mysterious circumstances – was Margaret poisoned on the orders of Queen Elizabeth? Mary McGrigor tells this compelling and exciting part of Tudor history for the first time with all the passion and thrill of a novel, but this is no fiction – the untold story runs through the course of history, and Margaret secured the throne for her Stuart ancestors for years to come.
The Daughters of George III
It is, as Lord Melbourne hinted to Queen Victoria, ‘a little curious that so many good-looking children should have been born of the union between George III and Queen Charlotte.’ His florid youthful comeliness soon passed, leaving him with protuberant eyes and pendulous lips, and even the Queen’s best friends could not describe her as anything but plain. Yet these two found themselves in course of time surrounded by a family of seven sons and six daughters all of whom were, at least in their earlier years, more than passably handsome. This study by the noted biographer Dorothy Margaret Stuart was the first full length account of the six princesses. Fanny Burney exclaimed, with characteristic fervor, ‘Never in tale or fable were six sister princesses more lovely!’ and a visitor from America wrote in 1788, ‘The four eldest princesses are thought surprising beauties. They are certainly handsome’ When Gainsborough was painting the series of family portraits he spoke with rapture of the royal children.The six Princesses were so spaced in order of time that they tended to fall into two equal groups: the elder Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Princess Royal, born in 1766; Augusta Sophia, born in 1768; Elizabeth, born in 1770: and the younger-Mary, born in 1776; Sophia, born in 1777; and Amelia, born in 1783. This biography provides a full account of all of the six princesses.
Joan of Kent: The First Princess of Wales
Immortalised by the chronicler Froissart as the most beautiful woman in England and the most loved, Joan was the wife of the Black Prince and the mother of Richard II, the first Princess of Wales and the only woman ever to be Princess of Aquitaine. The contemporary consensus was that she admirably fulfilled their expectations for a royal consort and king’s mother. Who was this ‘perfect princess’? In this first major biography, Joan’s background and career are examined to reveal a remarkable story. Brought up at court following her father’s shocking execution, Joan defied convention by marrying secretly aged just twelve, and refused to deny her first love despite coercion, imprisonment and a forced bigamous marriage. Wooed by the Black Prince when she was widowed, theirs was a love match, yet the questionable legality of their marriage threatened their son’s succession to the throne. Intelligent and independent, Joan constructed her role as Princess of Wales. Deliberately self-effacing, she created and managed her reputation, using her considerable intercessory skills to protect and support Richard. A loyal wife and devoted mother, Joan was much more than just a famous beauty. (Read my review here)
In Defense of the Princess
It’s no secret that most girls, at some point, love all things princess: the poofy dresses, the plastic tiaras, the color pink. Even grown-up women can t get enough of royal weddings and royal gossip. Yet critics claim the princess dream sets little girls up to be weak and submissive, and allows grown women to indulge in fantasies of rescue rather than hard work and self-reliance.
Enter Jerramy Fine an unabashed feminist who is proud of her life-long princess obsession and more than happy to defend it. Through her amusing life story and in-depth research, Fine makes it clear that feminine doesn t mean weak, pink doesn t mean inferior, and girliness is not incompatible with ambition. From 9th century Cinderella to modern-day Frozen, from Princess Diana to Kate Middleton, from Wonder Woman to Princess Leia, Fine valiantly assures us that princesses have always been about power, not passivity. And those who love them can still be confident, intelligent women.
Provocative, insightful, but also witty and personal, In Defense of the Princess empowers girls, women, and parents to dream of happily ever after without any guilt or shame.
Insurrection: Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell and the Pilgrimage of Grace
Autumn 1536. Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn are dead. Henry VIII has married Jane Seymour, and still awaits his longed for male heir. Disaffected conservatives in England see an opportunity for a return to Rome and an end to religious experimentation, but Thomas Cromwell has other ideas.
The Dissolution of the Monasteries has begun and the publication of the Lutheran influenced Ten Articles of the Anglican Church has followed. The obstinate monarch, enticed by monastic wealth, is determined not to change course. Fear and resentment is unleashed in northern England in the largest spontaneous uprising against a Tudor monarch – the Pilgrimage of Grace – in which 30,000 men take up arms against the king.
This book examines the evidence for that opposition and the abundant examples of religiously motivated dissent. It also highlights the rhetoric, reward and retribution used by the Crown to enforce its policy and crush the opposition.