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Queens of the Age of Chivalry (England's Medieval Queens, 3)

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I admit I was also primed to like Isabella’s story even before this book, as once upon a time I used to be a preteen obsessed with Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings book series — the seven-book epic chronicling the events that lead to a 100-year conflicts between England and France, the end of the Capet dynasty and the riee of the Valois dynasty in France, the end of Edward II reign in England, supplanted by his unhappy wife Queen Isabella, and the start of Edward III reign. Isabella and both Edwards, the Despensers, Roger Mortimer — all those names to me already felt familiar and I was invested from the beginning. This book recounts the stories of five queen consorts of Plantagenet period, during the age of chivalry in the fourteenth century . They are Marguerite of France, wife of Edward I, Isabella of France (Edward II), Philippa of Hainault (Edward III), Anne of Bohemia, first wife of Richard II, and his second wife, Isabella of Valois Aimed at the general reader, this rich and robust account will appeal to readers interested in medieval England and some of its most fascinating royal women, whose stories are often left out of the history books.” — Booklist I find I’m enthralled by her writings and literally can’t get enough. Her retellings of history and portrayal of historical figures are out of this world and she really gives you a feel and sense for who they were and might have been. I haven’t known much about medieval queens before, in fact, I’m drawing from my well of nothing when it comes to knowledge of these queens so I not only learnt a lot, but enjoyed doing so too! Alison weir is an excellent storyteller in her fiction books, and brings that flair to this non fiction account of the Queens. She gives us an insight into the daily lives of the queens. We learn how they spent their money, where that money came from and the strength they needed to live in turbulent times.

But as for the other four (well, maybe with the exception of Philippa of Hainault, Isabella’s daughter-in-law), I was a bit more lukewarm as their stories were just less interesting and impactful and they remained mostly relegated to the shadows of men throughout their lives. At least they seemed to have happy marriages, unlike Isabella, so at least there’s that.

I feel much better versed in the English royalty of the 14th century now. Maybe I still have a chance at being erudite enough? First line: In September 1299, the Princess Marguerite of France, found herself on a ship crossing the English Channel, with the white cliffs of Dover drawing ever nearer as she sailed to England to marry its King, Edward I. This meticulous group biography . . . brushes away long-standing legends. . . . [Alison] Weir skillfully documents the political, religious, and cultural issues of medieval England and France.” — Publishers Weekly How does Alison Weir do it?! I’m fairly new to her books and have read about three of them so far, but with each and every single one, she’s had the ability to absolutely hook me. From one of Britain's best selling historians, a sweeping and magisterial history of the extraordinary lives of five queens in England's turbulent Age of Chivalry

The author portrays a way of life very different to the standards of today, and uses primary sources to reveal the vast sums spent by the royals on maintaining their way of life. She puts the spotlight firmly on the queens, but also fills in the gaps of what happened to their husbands. It makes for fascinating reading; not least as she offers a (to me) new theory about the fate of Edward II, as well as some justification that Isabella did not deserve the evil reputation history has given her. We also see the origins of many of the ongoing traditions of this country. Using personal letters and wonderfully vivid sources, Alison Weir evokes the lives of five remarkable Marguerite of France, Isabella of France, Philippa of Hainault, Anne of Bohemia and Isabella of Valois. The final book in a trilogy, it is the only one that I have read. The author was recommended to me by a fellow Bookstagrammer.Queens of the Age of Chivalry” is also somewhat muddled by its heavy dependency on the chronicles of Froissart. Although a credible primary source; it results in a one-note piece and doesn’t feel well-rounded or with enough viewpoints/perspectives. Medieval queens were seen as mere dynastic trophies, yet many of the Plantagenet queens of the High Middle Ages dramatically broke away from the restrictions imposed on their sex, as Alison Weir shows in this gripping group biography of England's fourteenth-century consorts. Her books on the Tudor queens and Elizabeth of York were first to get me hooked and I had no idea I’d get so into other queens and historical events like the others, but I did. Fully convinced now I could read anything by this author and enjoy it to the max. Weir fortifies “Queens of the Age of Chivalry” with a section of photo plates, bibliography (which is actually impressive with its extensive lengthy list) and notes (not annotated).

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