21st March 2018 – Elizabeth I in Writing: Language, Power and Representation in Early Modern England (Queenship and Power) edited by Donatella Montini and Iolanda Plescia
‘This collection investigates Queen Elizabeth I as an accomplished writer in her own right as well as the subject of authors who celebrated her. With innovative essays from Brenda M. Hosington, Carole Levin, and other established and emerging experts, it reappraises Elizabeth’s translations, letters, poems and prayers through a diverse range of approaches to textuality, from linguistic and philological to literary and cultural-historical. The book also considers Elizabeth as “authored,” studying how she is reflected in the writing of her contemporaries and reconstructing a wider web of relations between the public and private use of language in early modern culture. Contributions from Carlo M. Bajetta, Guillaume Coatelen and Giovanni Iamartino bring the Queen’s presence in early modern Italian literary culture to the fore. Together, these essays illuminate the Queen in writing, from the multifaceted linguistic and rhetorical strategies that she employed, to the texts inspired by her power and charisma.’
31st March 2018 – The Queen and the Heretic: How two women changed the religion of England by Derek Wilson
‘The dual biography of two remarkable women – Catherine Parr and Anne Askew. One was the last queen of a powerful monarch, the second a countrywoman from Lincolnshire. But they were joined together in their love for the new learning – and their adherence to Protestantism threatened both their lives. Both women wrote about their faith, and their writings are still with us. Powerful men at court sought to bring Catherine down, and used Anne Askew’s notoriety as a weapon in that battle. Queen Catherine Parr survived, while Anne Askew, the only woman to be racked, was burned to death. This book explores their lives, and the way of life for women from various social strata in Tudor England.’
9th April 2018 – Juana I: Legitimacy and Conflict in Sixteenth-Century Castile (Queenship and Power) by Gillian B Fleming
‘This book examines the deep and lengthy crisis of legitimacy triggered by the death of Prince Juan of Castile and Aragon in 1497 and the subsequent ascent of Juana I to the throne in 1504. Confined by historiography and myth to the madwoman’s attic, Juana emerges here as a key figure at the heart of a period of tremendous upheaval, reaching its peak in the war of the Comunidades, or comunero uprising of 1520–1522. Gillian Fleming traces the conflicts generated by the ambitions of Juana’s father, husband and son, and the controversial marginalisation and imprisonment of Isabel of Castile’s legitimate heir. Analysing Juana’s problems and strategies, failures and successes, Fleming argues that the period cannot be properly understood without taking into account the long shadow that Juana I cast over her kingdoms and over a crucial period of transition for Spain and Europe.’
15th April 2018 – The House of Beaufort: The Bastard Line that Captured the Crown (Paperback) by Nathen Amin
‘The Wars of the Roses were a tumultuous period in English history, with family fighting family over the greatest prize in the kingdom – the throne of England. But what gave the eventual victor of these brutal and complex wars, Henry Tudor, the right to claim the crown? What made his Beaufort mother the great heiress of medieval England, and how exactly did an illegitimate line come to challenge the English monarchy?
While the Houses of York and Lancaster fought brutally for the crown, other noble families of the kingdom also played integral roles in the wars; grand and prestigious names like the Howards, Mowbrays, Nevilles and Percys were intimately involved in the conflict, but none symbolised the volatile nature of the period quite like the House of Beaufort. Their rise, fall, and rise again is the story of England during the fifteenth century, a dramatic century of war, intrigue and scandal both at home and abroad. Many books have been written about individual members of the dynasty, but never has the whole family been explored as one.
This book uncovers the rise of the Beauforts from bastard stock of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, to esteemed companions of their cousin Henry V, celebrated victor of Agincourt, and tracks their chastening fall with the House of Lancaster during the 1460s and 1470s. The hopes and fortunes of the family gradually came to rest upon the shoulders of a teenage widow named Margaret Beaufort and her young son Henry. From Margaret would rise the House of Tudor, the most famous of all England’s royal houses and a dynasty that owed its crown to the blood of its forebears, the House of Beaufort. From bastards to princes, the Beauforts are medieval England’s most captivating family.’
30th April 2018 – 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.’
30th April 2018 – Forgotten Royal Women: The King and I by Erin Lawless
‘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.’
1st May 2018 – Elizabeth I and Her Circle by Susan Doran (Paperback)
‘This is the inside story of Elizabeth I’s inner circle and the crucial human relationships which lay at the heart of her personal and political life. Using a wide range of original sources ― including private letters, portraits, verse, drama, and state papers ― Susan Doran provides a vivid and often dramatic account of political life in Elizabethan England and the queen at its centre, offering a deeper insight into Elizabeth’s emotional and political conduct ― and challenging many of the popular myths that have grown up around her.
It is a story replete with fascinating questions. What was the true nature of Elizabeth’s relationship with her father, Henry VIII, especially after his execution of her mother? What was the influence of her step-mothers on Elizabeth’s education and religious beliefs? How close was she really to her half-brother Edward VI ― and were relations with her half-sister Mary really as poisonous as is popularly assumed? And what of her relationship with her Stewart cousins, most famously with Mary Queen of Scots, executed on Elizabeth’s orders in 1587, but also with Mary’s son James VI of Scotland, later to succeed Elizabeth as her chosen successor?
Elizabeth’s relations with her family were crucial, but almost as crucial were her relations with her courtiers and her councillors (her ‘men of business’). Here again, the story unravels a host of fascinating questions. Was the queen really sexually jealous of her maids of honour? What does her long and intimate relationship with the Earl of Leicester reveal about her character, personality, and attitude to marriage? What can the fall of Essex tell us about Elizabeth’s political management in the final years of her reign? And what was the true nature of her personal and political relationship with influential and long-serving councillors such as the Cecils and Sir Francis Walsingham?’
28th June 2018 – Mary I (Penguin Monarchs): The Daughter of Time (Paperback) by John Edwards
‘The elder daughter of Henry VIII, Mary I (1553-58) became England’s ruler on the unexpected death of her brother Edward VI. Her short reign is one of the great potential turning points in the country’s history. As a convinced Catholic and the wife of Philip II, king of Spain and the most powerful of all European monarchs, Mary could have completely changed her country’s orbit, making it a province of the Habsburg Empire and obedient again to Rome.
These extraordinary possibilities are fully dramatized in John Edward’s superb short biography. The real Mary I has almost disappeared under the great mass of Protestant propaganda that buried her reputation during her younger sister, Elizabeth I’s reign. But what if she had succeeded?’
28th June 2018 – Edward VI (Penguin Monarchs): The Last Boy King (Paperback) by Stephen Alford
‘Edward VI, the only son of Henry VIII, became king at the age of nine and died wholly unexpectedly at the age of fifteen. All around him loomed powerful men who hoped to use the child to further their own ends, but who were also playing a long game – assuming that Edward would long outlive them and become as commanding a figure as his father had been.
Stephen Alford’s wonderful book gives full play to the murky, sinister nature of Edward’s reign, but is also a poignant account of a boy learning to rule, learning to enjoy his growing power and to come out of the shadows of the great aristocrats around him. England’s last child monarch, Edward would have led his country in a quite different direction to the catastrophic one caused by his death.’
4th October 2018 – The Black Prince by Michael Jones (Paperback)
‘As a child he was given his own suit of armour; in 1346, at the age of 16, he helped defeat the French at Crécy; and in 1356 he captured the King of France at Poitiers. For the chronicler Jean Froissart, ‘He was the flower of all chivalry’; for the Chandos Herald, who fought with him, he was ‘the embodiment of all valour’. Edward of Woodstock, eldest son and heir of Edward III of England, better known as ‘the Black Prince’, was England’s pre-eminent military leader during the first phase of the Hundred Years War.
Michael Jones uses contemporary chronicles and documentary material, including the Prince’s own letters and those of his closest followers, to tell the tale of an authentic English hero and to paint a memorable portrait of warfare and society in the tumultuous fourteenth century.’