Cecily Neville: Mother of Richard III
Wife to Richard, Duke of York, mother to Edward IV and Richard III, and aunt to the famous Kingmaker , Richard, Earl of Warwick, Cecily Neville was a key player on the political stage of fifteenth-century Britain England. Mythologically rumoured to have been known as the Rose of Raby because of her beauty and her birth at Raby Castle, and as Proud Cis because of her vanity and fiery temper, Cecily s personality and temperament have actually been highly speculated upon. In fact, much of her life is shrouded in mystery. Putting aside Cecily s role as mother and wife, who was she really? Matriarch of the York dynasty, she navigated through a tumultuous period and lived to see the birth of the future Henry VIII. From seeing the house of York defeat their Lancastrian cousins; to witnessing the defeat of her own son, Richard III, at the battle of Bosworth, Cecily then saw one of her granddaughters become Henry VII s queen consort. Her story is full of controversy and the few published books on her life are full of guess-work. In this highly original history, Dr John Ashdown-Hill seeks to dispel the myths surrounding Cecily using previously unexamined contemporary sources.
On the Trail of Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots is one of the great tragic figures of British history. Born in Scotland in December 1542, she was to become Queen of Scots just six days later. Growing up mostly in France and marrying the French king Francis II in 1559, she returned to Scotland a widow at age 18. Four years later she married Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, but their miserable union ended with his murder and her marriage to his alleged killer, the Earl of Bothwell. Forced by rebellion to flee south to England, she was confined by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I in various manor houses and castles before, 18 years on, being executed on her cousin’s orders. This book takes you on a journey through the landscape of Mary’s time. On her trail you will visit resplendent castles, towering cathedrals, manor homes, and chapels associated with Mary. Each location is brought to life through engaging narrative and an extensive collection of photographs and images.
Cleopatra: Fact and Fiction
Cleopatra is one of the greatest romantic figures in history, the queen of Egypt whose beauty and allure is legendary. We think we know her story, but our image of her is largely gleaned from the film starring Elizabeth Taylor or from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. Shakespeare himself was inspired by Plutarch, who was only 16 years old when Cleopatra died. So her story was never based purely on fact. In the middle of the first century BC, Cleopatra caught the attention of Rome by captivating the two most powerful Romans of the day, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. She outlived both and attempted to suborn a third, her mortal enemy, Octavius Caesar, the first of the Roman Emperors. Having failed to do so she destroyed herself. We can tell that Cleopatra was highly intelligent, politically astute, and wielded great power. But Roman histories heaped opprobrium upon her. Cleopatra’s detractors claimed that she used her feminine wiles to entrap Caesar and Antony. She came to symbolize the danger of female influence to the safety of Rome. The fact that Cleopatra’s legend still burns bright today is proof of Shakespeare’s description of her as “a lady of infinite variety whom custom cannot stale.”
Tudor Monarchs: Lives in Letters
The Tudor period (1485-1603) is a story of drama, intrigue and tumultuous change but also of triumphs and progress, and it saw the emergence of an English national identity. Four hundred years after the Tudor era ended with the death of Elizabeth I, this extraordinary period in English history still fascinates and captures the public imagination like no other. The Tudor kings and queens remain the most well-known and fascinating English dynasty. The enormous increase in the quantity of surviving documents from Henry VIII’s reign onwards means that the Tudor period is the first in English history to be so thoroughly documented in manuscript form. The British Library holds an incredibly rich and important collection of Tudor letters which enables this book to tell their story in their own words, their own handwriting, a close up look at a world of turbulent political scheming and grand, sometimes destructive love affairs. The selection in this book includes famous letters about major historical turning-points as well as unpublished eyewitness accounts by the key players in 16th-century life.
Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII
Written with an exciting combination of narrative flair and historical authority, this biography of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Catherine Howard, is “a stunning achievement” (The Sunday Times, London), and “a masterly work of Tudor history that is engrossing, sympathetic, suspenseful, and illuminating” (Charlotte Gordon, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography).
On the morning of July 28, 1540, a teenager named Catherine Howard began her reign as queen of an England simmering with rebellion and terrifying uncertainty. Sixteen months later, she would follow her cousin Anne Boleyn to the scaffold, having been convicted of adultery and high treason.
The broad outlines of Catherine’s career might be familiar, but her story up until now has been incomplete. Unlike previous biographies, which portray her as a naïve victim of an ambitious family, Gareth Russell’s “excellent account puts the oft-ignored Catherine in her proper historical context” (Daily Mail, London) and sheds new light on her rise and downfall by showing her in her context, a milieu that includes the aristocrats and, most critically, the servants who surrounded her and who, in the end, conspired against her. By illuminating Catherine’s entwined upstairs/downstairs world as well as societal tensions beyond the palace walls, Russell offers a fascinating portrayal of court life in the sixteenth century and a fresh analysis of the forces beyond Catherine’s control that led to her execution.
Including a forgotten text of Catherine’s confession in her own words, color illustrations, family tree, map, and extensive notes, Young and Damned and Fair is “a gripping account of a young woman’s future destroyed by forces beyond her control…an important and timely book” (Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire). This account changes our understanding of one of history’s most famous women while telling the compelling and very human story of complex individuals attempting to survive in a dangerous age.
Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity (Penguin Monarchs)
Helen Castor shows how England’s iconic queen was shaped by profound and enduring insecurity—an insecurity which was both a matter of practical political reality and personal psychology. From her precarious upbringing at the whim of a brutal, capricious father and her perilous accession after his death, to the religious division that marred her state and the failure to marry that threatened her line, Elizabeth lived under constant threat. But, facing down her enemies with a compellingly inscrutable public persona, the last and greatest of the Tudor monarchs would become a timeless, fearless queen.
Anne Boleyn: Adultery, Heresy, Desire
Anne Boleyn, the femme fatale whose unconventional beauty inspired poets, and so entranced Henry VIII with her wit, allure and style that he was prepared to set aside his wife of over twenty years and risk his immortal soul. Her sister had already been the king’s mistress, but the other Boleyn girl was to choose another path. For years the passionate lovers waited; did they really remain chaste? Did Anne love Henry, or was she a cunning career woman?
Eventually replacing the long suffering Catherine of Aragon, Anne enjoyed a magnificent coronation and gave birth to the future Elizabeth I but her triumph was short lived. Why did she go from beloved consort to adulteress and traitor within a matter of weeks? What role did Thomas Cromwell and Jane Seymour of Wolf Hall play in Anne’s demise? Was her fall one of the biggest sex scandals of her era, or the result of a political coup? This book is the most detailed account of Anne’s life ever published, taking her from cradle to grave and beyond. Anne is vividly brought to life amid the colour, drama and the intimate secrets of the Tudor court.
Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots
The riveting story of four unforgettable sisters and their glamorous mother, Elizabeth Stuart, granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots
Elizabeth Stuart’s life was transformed when her father ascended to the English throne as King James I. Her marriage to a German count far below her rank was arranged with the understanding that James would help her husband achieve the crown of Bohemia. Her father’s terrible betrayal of this promise would ruin ‘the Winter Queen’, as Elizabeth would forever be known, imperil the lives of those she loved and launch a war that would last thirty years.
Forced into exile, the Winter Queen found refuge for her growing family in Holland, where the glorious art and culture of the Dutch Golden Age formed the backdrop to her daughters’ education. Like Austen’s Bennets or Louisa May Alcott’s Marches, each sister had a unique attribute that set her apart from the rest: Elizabeth was the scholar, Louisa the artist, Henrietta the beauty and Sophia the writer. But unlike those fictional heroines, the daughters of the Winter Queen lived on a much grander scale.
Their story begins in Scotland and England and sweeps through the great courts and palaces of Europe. The journey encompasses political intrigue, illicit love affairs, devastating betrayal, hard-won triumph and even a murder mystery. Daughters of the Winter Queen is the saga of five extraordinary women and a family that, by refusing to surrender, changed the course of history.
The Duchess: Camilla Parker Bowles and the Love Affair That Rocked the Crown
Hardcover – 10 April 2018 (US)
In the first in-depth biography of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall—the infamous other woman who made the marriage of Britain’s Prince Charles and Princess Diana “a bit crowded”—esteemed royal biographer Penny Junor tells the unlikely and extraordinary story of the woman reviled as a pariah who, thanks to numerous twists of fate, became the popular princess consort.
Few know the Windsor family as well as veteran royal biographer and journalist Penny Junor. In The Duchess, she casts her insightful, sensitive eye on the intriguing, once widely despised, and little-known Camilla Parker Bowles, revealing in full, for the first time, the remarkable rise of a woman who was the most notorious mistress in the world.
As Camilla’s marriage to Charles approached in 2005, the British public were upset at the prospect that this woman, universally reviled for wrecking the royal marriage, would one day become queen. Sensitive to public opinion, the palace announced that this would never happen; when Charles eventually acceded to the throne, Camilla would be known as the princess consort. Yet a decade later British public sentiment had changed, with a majority believing that Camilla should become queen.
Junor argues that although Camilla played a central role in the darkest days of the modern monarchy—Charles and Diana’s acrimonious and scandalous split—she also played a central role in restoring the royal family’s reputation, especially that of Prince Charles. A woman with no ambition to be a princess, a duchess, or a queen, Camilla simply wanted to be with, and support, the man who has always been the love of her life. Junor contends that their marriage has reinvigorated Charles, allowing him to finally become comfortable as the heir to the British throne.
American Princess: The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
When Prince Harry of Wales took his American girlfriend, Meghan Markle, to have tea with his grandmother the queen, avid royal watchers had a hunch that a royal wedding was not far off. That prediction came true on November 27, 2017, when the gorgeous, glamorous twosome announced their engagement to the world. As they prepare to tie the knot in a stunning ceremony on May 19, 2018, that will be unprecedented in royal history, people are clamoring to know more about the beautiful American who captured Prince Harry’s heart.
Born and raised in Los Angeles to a white father of German, English, and Irish descent and an African American mother whose ancestors had been enslaved on a Georgia plantation, Meghan has proudly embraced her biracial heritage. In addition to being a star of the popular television series Suits, she is devoted to her humanitarian work—a passion she shares with Harry. Though Meghan was married once before, Prince Harry is a modern royal, and the Windsors have welcomed her into the tight-knit clan they call “The Firm.” Even a generation ago, it would have been unthinkable, as well as impermissible, for any member of Great Britain’s royal family to consider marrying someone like Meghan. Professional actresses were considered scandalous and barely respectable. And the last time an American divorcee married into the Royal Family, it provoked a constitutional crisis!
In American Princess, Leslie Carroll provides context to Harry and Meghan’s romance by leading readers through centuries of Britain’s rule-breaking royal marriages, as well as the love matches that were never permitted to make it to the altar; followed by a never-before-seen glimpse into the little-known life of the woman bringing the Royal Family into the 21st century; and her dazzling, thoroughly modern romance with Prince Harry.
Meghan: A Hollywood Princess
From Andrew Morton, the New York Times bestselling author of Diana: Her True Story, comes a revealing, juicy, and inspiring biography of Meghan Markle, the American actress who won Prince Harry’s heart.
Forgotten Royal Women: The King and I
Great women are hidden behind great men, or so they say, and no man is greater than the king. For centuries, royal aunts, cousins, sisters and mothers have watched history unfold from the shadows, their battlefields the bedchamber or the birthing room, their often short lives remembered only through the lens of others. But for those who want to hear them, great stories are still there to be told: the medieval princess who was kidnapped by pirates; the duchess found guilty of procuring love potions; the queen who was imprisoned in a castle for decades. Bringing thirty of these royal women out of the shadows, along with the footnotes of their families, this collection of bite-sized biographies will tell forgotten tales and shine much needed light into the darkened corners of women’s history.
My Husband and I: The Inside Story of 70 Years of the Royal Marriage
With interest in the royal couple at a new peak thanks to the hit TV series The Crown, Ingrid Seward reveals the real story of the marriage of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. When a young Princess Elizabeth met and fell in love with the dashing Naval Lieutenant Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, it wasn’t without its problems. The romance between the sailor prince and the young princess brought a splash of colour to a nation still in the grip of post-war austerity. When they married in Westminster Abbey in November 1947, there were 3000 guests, including six kings and seven queens. Within five years, as Queen Elizabeth II, she would ascend to the throne and later be crowned in front of millions watching through the new medium of television. Throughout her record-breaking reign, she relied on the formidable partnership she had made with her consort. Now, after 70 years of their marriage, acclaimed royal biographer Ingrid Seward sheds new light on their relationship and its impact on their family and on the nation. In My Husband and I, we discover the challenges faced by Prince Philip as he has had to learn to play second fiddle to the Queen in all their public engagements, but we also get a revealing insight into how their relationship operates behind closed doors. As the years have gone by, there have been rumours of marital troubles, fierce debates over how to bring up their children, and they have had to deal with family traumas – from scandalous divorces to shocking deaths – in the full glare of the public eye. But somehow, their relationship has endured and provided a model of constancy to inspire all around them. This book is not only a vivid portrait of a hugely important marriage, it is a celebration of the power of love.
The Little Book of Versailles
Why did Louis XIII go to Versailles? How many kings of France have lived in this palace? Why did Louis XIV decide to live outside Paris? When did the king’s court settle in the palace? Why did courtiers wear wigs? Who is the most famous chronicler of life in the time of Louis XIV’s court? Which sovereign was the mostly badly damaged by the “Affair of the Diamond Necklace”? Which was the last king to live in the castle?
Gloriously illustrated with pictures from the past, this little album charts the history of France’s most famous castle over the course of four centuries, from its construction in 1631 to the signature of the Peace Treaty in 1919, passing by the women’s march on Versailles in 1789.