Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance
When the tall, athletic Edward of York seized the English throne in 1461, he could have chosen any bride he wanted. With his dazzling looks and royal descent, the nineteen-year-old quickly got a reputation for womanizing, with few able to resist his charm and promises. For three years he had a succession of mistresses, mostly among the married women and widows of his court, while foreign princesses were lined up to be considered as his queen. Then he fell in love.
The woman who captured the king was a widow, five years his elder. While her contemporaries and later historians have been divided over her character, none have denied the extent of her blonde beauty. Elizabeth Wydeville had previously been married to a Lancastrian knight, who had lost his life fighting against the Yorkists. When she tried to petition the king to help restore her son’s inheritance, reputedly waiting for him under an oak tree, the young Edward was immediately spellbound. But this did not prove to be just another fling. Conscious of her honor and her future, Elizabeth repelled his advances. His answer was to make her his wife.
It was to prove an unpopular decision. Since then Edward’s queen has attracted extreme reactions, her story and connections reported by hostile chroniclers, her actions interpreted in the bleakest of lights. It is time for a reassessment of the tumultuous life of the real White Queen and her husband.
Henry VI, Margaret of Anjou and the Wars of the Roses: From Contemporary Chronicles, Letters and Records
Henry VI (1422-61), a man ‘more given to God and devout prayer than handling worldly and temporal things’, was the third, and least successful, Lancastrian king of England; his wife Margaret of Anjou, ‘a great and strong labored woman’, became a formidable political force in her own right; and the Wars of the Roses, so dramatically portrayed by William Shakespeare as bloody dynastic struggles fought for the possession of the crown, brought the usurpation of Edward IV (1461-83), the humiliation and exile of Margaret of Anjou, and the murder of her husband in the Tower of London. Combining a framework of interpretation and a rich selection of passages from contemporary and near-contemporary sources, this compilation enables readers to appreciate just why the rule of Henry VI resulted in the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses, what these internecine conflicts were like, and how they culminated in the end of the House of Lancaster.
The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox
Royal Tudor blood ran in her veins. Her mother was a queen, her father an earl, and she herself was the granddaughter, niece, cousin and grandmother of monarchs. Some thought she should be queen of England. She ranked high at the court of her uncle, Henry VIII, and was lady of honour to five of his wives. Beautiful and tempestuous, she created scandal, not just once, but twice, by falling in love with unsuitable men. Fortunately, the marriage arranged for her turned into a love match.
Throughout her life her dynastic ties to two crowns proved hazardous. A born political intriguer, she was imprisoned in the Tower of London on three occasions, once under sentence of death. She helped to bring about one of the most notorious royal marriages of the sixteenth century, but it brought her only tragedy. Her son and her husband were brutally murdered, and there were rumours that she herself was poisoned. She warred with two queens, Mary of Scotland and Elizabeth of England. A brave survivor, she was instrumental in securing the Stuart succession to the throne of England for her grandson.
Her story deserves to be better known. This is the biography of an extraordinary life that spanned five Tudor reigns, a life packed with intrigue, drama and tragedy.
The Complete Illustrated Guide to the Kings & Queens of Britain: A Magnificent and Authoritative History of the Royalty of Britain, the Rulers, Their … Families, and the Pretenders to the Throne
In this beautifully illustrated volume, Charles Phillips charts the complete history of the royal families of Britain. Beginning in earliest times with the legend of King Arthur, Eric Bloodaxe and the real-life history of Macbeth, he describes the lives and legends of the kings and queens of Britain, their consorts and children, and the pretenders, usurpers and regents who played a role in the making of the United Kingdom. Fact boxes highlight the essential events of each reign, as well as maps, charts and family trees. A valuable reference book for any historian, this guide will fascinate every reader interested in one of the longest-running monarchies in the world.
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 (Read my review here!)
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.
Paperback – 11 Feb 2016 (UK)
The romance of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor has been called the greatest love story of the twentieth century. However with the first edition of this biography in 1988, highly acclaimed author Charles Higham used explosive secret intelligence files to reveal a far darker side to their forty-year relationship. Now the author has re-visited and updated his international bestseller, resulting in a fascinating, and at times shocking exposé of Wallis Simpson. New and disturbing revelations have come to light, adding to the now classic story of an illegitimate child from Baltimore who rose to become the mistress of the king of England and brought about his abdication. Wallis gained control of the Monarch through sexual techniques learned in China, but risked losing everything through a reckless, long-term affair with William Bullitt, US Ambassador to France. Newly released FBI files demonstrate, as no other source has done, the extent of the Duchess’s espionage activities and how she conspired against Britain in the interest of Hitler. This is an intimate and extraordinary account of the woman who very nearly became the Queen of England.
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María de Molina, Queen and Regent: Life and Rule in Castile-León, 1259-1321
This biography of Queen Maria de Molina thematically explores her life and demonstrates her collective exercise of power and authority as queen. Throughout her public life, Maria de Molina’s resilient determination, as queen and later as regent, enabled her to not only work tirelessly to establish an effective governing partnership with her husband King Sancho IV, which never occurred, but also to establish the legitimacy of her children and their heirs and their right to rule. Such legitimacy enabled Queen Maria de Molina’s son and grandson, under her tutelage, to fend off other monarchs and belligerent nobles. The author demonstrates the queen’s ability to govern the Kingdom of Castile-Leon as a partner with her husband King Sancho IV, a partnership that can be described as an official union. A major theme of this study is Maria de Molina’s role as dowager queen and regent as she continued to exercise her queenly power and authority to protect the throne of her son Fernando IV and, later, of her grandson Alfonso XI, and to provide peace and stability for the Kingdom of Castile-Leon.