Books 2023 – on sale now a book that features Lady Jane….

The Sixteenth Century in 100 Women by Amy Licence

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‘This retelling of the sixteenth century introduces the reader to a gallery of amazing women, from queens to commoners, who navigated the patriarchal world in memorable and life-changing ways. Amy Licence has scoured the records from Europe and beyond to compile this testament to female lives and achievements, telling the stories of mistresses and martyrs, witches and muses, pirates and jesters, doctors and astronomers, escapees and murderesses, colonists and saints. Read about the wife of astrologer John Dee, the women who inspired Michelangelo, the jester who saved the life of Henry IV of France, the beloved mistress of the Sultan Suleiman the Great, the wife of Ivan the Terrible, whose murder unleashed terror, set against the everyday lives of those women who did not make the history books. Introducing a number of new faces, this book will delight those who are looking to broaden their knowledge on the sixteenth century and celebrate the lost women of the past.’


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Two more books to look forward to….

30 May – Henry VIII’s Children: Legitimate and Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Tudor King by Caroline Angus

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‘Of the five Tudor monarchs, only one was ever born to rule. While much of King Henry VIII’s reign is centred on his reckless marriage choices, it was the foundations laid by Henry and Queen Katherine of Aragon that shaped the future of the crown. Among the suffering of five lost heirs, the royal couple placed all their hopes in the surviving Princess Mary. Her early life weaves a tale of promise, diplomacy, and pageantry never again seen in King Henry’s life, but a deep-rooted desire for a son, a legacy of his own scattered childhood, pushed Henry VIII to smother Mary’s chance to rule. An affair soon produced an unlikely heir in Henry Fitzroy, and while one child was pure royalty, the other illegitimate, the comparison of their childhoods would show a race to throne closer than many wished to admit. King Henry’s cruelty saw his heirs’ fates pivot as wives came and went, and the birth Princess Elizabeth, saw long-term plans upended for short-term desires. With the death of one heir hidden from view, the birth of Prince Edward finally gave the realm an heir born to rule, but King Henry’s personal desires and paranoia left his heirs facing constant uncertainty for another decade until his death. Behind the narrative of Henry VIII’s wives, wars, reformation and ruthlessness, there were children, living lives of education among people who cared for them, surrounded by items in generous locations which symbolised their place in their father’s heart. They faced excitement, struggles, and isolation which would shape their own reigns. From the heights of a surviving princess destined and decreed to influence Europe, to illegitimate children scattered to the winds of fortune, the childhoods of Henry VIII’s heirs is one of ambition, destiny, heartache, and triumph.’


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30 May – Arthur, Prince of Wales: Henry VIII’s Lost Brother by Gareth Streeter

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‘For too long, Arthur Tudor has been remembered only for what he never became. The boy who died prematurely and paved the way for the revolutionary reign of his younger brother, Henry VIII. Yet, during his short life, Arthur was at the centre of one of the most tumultuous periods of England’s history. At the time of his birth, he represented his father’s hopes for a dynasty and England’s greatest chance of peace. As he grew, he witnessed feuds, survived rebellion and became the focal point of an international alliance. From the threat of pretenders to West Country rebellions, the dramatic twists and turns of early Tudor England preoccupied Arthur’s thoughts. At a young age, he was dispatched to the Welsh border, becoming a figurehead for a robust regional government. While never old enough to exercise full power in his dominion, he emerged as a figure of influence, beseeched by petitioners and consulted by courtiers. While the extent of his personal influence can only be guessed at, the sources that survive reveal a determined prince that came tantalisingly close to forging his future. Eventually, after years of negotiation, delay and frustration, the prince finally came face to face with his Spanish princess, Katharine of Aragon. The young couple had shared a destiny since the cradle. Securing the hand of this prestigious bride for his son had been a centrepiece of Henry VII’s foreign policy. Yet, despite being 14 years in the making, the couple were to enjoy just five months together before Arthur succumbed to a mysterious illness. Arthur’s death at the age of 15 was not just a personal tragedy for his parents. It changed the course of the future and deprived England of one of the most educated and cultivated princes in its history. Arthur would never wear the crown of England. But few Princes of Wales had been better prepared to rule. ‘Arthur, Prince of Wales: Henry VIII’s lost brother’ shows that Arthur Tudor was more than a prince who died. He was a boy that really lived.’


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My review of ‘Edward VI: Henry VIII’s Overshadowed Son’ by Stephanie Kline

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‘Edward VI: Henry VIII’s Overshadowed Son’ is an extremely well written account of the life of one of the less well-known Tudor monarchs. The longed-for son of Henry VIII, who became King at 9 years of age, Edward has largely been remembered for dying young and his attempt to change the succession from his half-sister, Princess Mary to Lady Jane Grey.

Stephanie Kline’s book goes a very long way to restoring Edward to the spotlight and taking his rightful place in the history of this famous dynasty. Although with any biography of Edward, the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland loom large, Edward does not disappear into the background, with Kline showing his role in events and decisions, especially in the last 18 months of his life. By covering the effects of Edward’s religious policies in the reigns of Mary I and Elizabeth I, his legacy is clear to see.

Thank you to NetGalley and Pen and Sword Books for my review copy.

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‘The Granddaughters of Edward III’ Interview with Kathryn Warner

Kathryn Warner is the author of ‘The Granddaughters of Edward III’ which will be published by Pen and Sword Books on 28 February.

Kathryn is the author of many books, including ‘Blood Roses: The Houses of Lancaster and York before the Wars of the Roses’, ‘Philippa of Hainault: Mother of the English Nation’, Living in Medieval England: The Turbulent Year of 1326’and ‘Edward II: The Unconventional King’.

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Follow Kathryn on Social Media

Kathryn’s website: Edward II
Facebook: Edward II
Twitter: @RoyneAlianore

Many thanks to Kathryn for answering my questions.

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Why did you choose this subject for your book?

I love writing about medieval women, searching out references to them in documents, revealing their lives to a modern audience. Unfortunately, it’s often very difficult to find enough information to write a biography of one medieval person, but much easier to write a narrative of a group of women, and Edward III’s granddaughters were fascinating people who aren’t very well known. I thought they should be!

What does your book add to previous works covering this subject?

There’s little information available to an English-speaking audience about John of Gaunt’s daughters Philippa and Catalina, queens of Portugal and Castile. The two women are much more famous in Portugal and Spain than they are in their native land, and I had a great time reading medieval Portuguese and Castilian chronicles and letters in order to weave a narrative of the lives of these two powerful and influential women. Catalina was regent of Castile for her husband Enrique II, who was seven years younger than she, and later for their son Juan II. Philippa’s husband King João of Portugal issued many of his charters and grants with the words ‘together with the queen, Lady Philippa’, and Philippa’s children are known as the ‘Illustrious Generation’ who transformed Portugal from a rather insignificant European nation into a great maritime power. I hope readers enjoy learning about these two wonderful sisters as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

What surprised you most researching this book?

I wouldn’t call it ‘surprised’ exactly, as I’ve been researching and writing about medieval history for many years, but I’m still amazed and delighted to see how much influence medieval women could wield, and how many of them did so. There’s an outdated idea that women in the Middle Ages were little more than helpless, passive pawns of their fathers and husbands, and that their lives consisted of being expected to produce male babies regularly and not much else, but that’s absolutely not the case. Some of Edward III’s granddaughters were wealthy heiresses and landowners in their own right, and a few of them used their close family relationship to several kings of England (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V) to benefit themselves and their associates. Some of them did as they pleased in their personal lives as well, such as Elizabeth of Lancaster choosing two of her three husbands, Constance of York having an affair with a nobleman a few years her junior, and Anne of Gloucester also choosing two of her three husbands and marrying them without royal permission.

Which granddaughter did you enjoy writing about the most?

I’ve always been especially fond of Elizabeth of Lancaster, duchess of Exeter, countess of Pembroke and Huntingdon, the second daughter of John of Gaunt. She was married at age 16 or 17 to a 7-year-old boy, John Hastings, heir to the earldom of Pembroke, but decided a few years later that she was sick of waiting for a child to grow up and married Richard II’s half-brother John Holland instead. Not too long after Holland was killed during a plot to restore Richard to the throne, taken from him by Elizabeth’s brother Henry IV, she married her third husband, Sir John Cornwall, one of the most famous English warriors of the early fifteenth century. Elizabeth’s life reads like it was invented for a novel. I’m also deeply interested in Elizabeth’s older sister Queen Philippa and their younger half-sister Queen Catalina, and the three Lancaster women were also the half-sisters of Joan Beaufort, countess of Westmorland, grandmother of two kings of England (Edward IV and Richard III). Philippa, Catalina and Joan were great fans of books and reading, something they shared with their brother Henry IV, and as a bookworm myself I find this very endearing.

Which granddaughter was the most difficult to write about?

That would definitely be the two youngest granddaughters of Edward III, the sisters Joan and Isabel of Gloucester, younger sisters of Anne, countess of Stafford, and daughters of Edward III’s youngest son Thomas of Woodstock. Joan died in 1400 at the age of only 15 or 16, and, with the exception of the arrangements for her marriage to Gilbert Talbot and the bequests she was left in her mother Eleanor’s will in 1399, there’s almost no information about her. Isabel was professed as a nun on her sixteenth birthday in 1402 and became the abbess of the Minoresses’ convent in London, and although I found some information about her, I was never able to determine even her approximate date of death. She was still alive in 1424. Supposedly Anne, Joan and Isabel had a younger sister, Philippa of Gloucester, who often appears on genealogy websites, but I never found any definitive evidence that she existed. If she did, she must have died very young.

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Books 2023 – The Granddaughters of Edward III by Kathryn Warner on sale now…

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‘Edward III may be known for his restoration of English kingly authority after the disastrous and mysterious fall of his father, Edward II, and eventual demise of his mother, Queen Isabella. It was Edward III who arguably put England on the map as a military might. This show of power and strength was not simply through developments in government, success in warfare or the establishment of the Order of the Garter, which fused ideals of chivalry and national identity to form camaraderie between king and peerage. The expansion of England as a formidable European powerhouse was also achieved through the traditional lines of political marriages, particularly those of the king of England’s own granddaughters. This is a joint biography of nine of those women who lived between 1355 and 1440, and their dramatic, turbulent lives. One was queen of Portugal and was the mother of the Illustrious Generation; one married into the family of her parents’ deadly enemies and became queen of Castile; one became pregnant by the king of England’s half-brother while married to someone else, and her third husband was imprisoned for marrying her without permission; one was widowed at about 24 when her husband was summarily beheaded by a mob, and some years later bore an illegitimate daughter to an earl; one saw her marriage annulled so that her husband could marry a Bohemian lady-in-waiting; one was born illegitimate, had sixteen children, and was the grandmother of two kings of England.’


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