14 July 2016 – The Birth of a Queen: Essays on the Quincentenary of Mary I edited by Sarah Duncan and Valerie Schutte
‘Marking the 500th year anniversary of the birth of Queen Mary I in 1516, this book both commemorates her rule and rehabilitates and redefines her image and reign as England’s first queen regnant. In this broad collection of essays, leading historians of queenship (or monarchy) explore aspects of Mary’s life from birth to reign to death and cultural afterlife, giving consideration to the struggles she faced both before and after her accession, and celebrating Mary as a queen in her own right.’
6 September 2016 – Blanche of Castile, Queen of France by Lindy Grant
‘This is the first modern scholarly biography of Blanche of Castile, whose identity has until now been subsumed in that of her son, the saintly Louis IX. A central figure in the politics of medieval Europe, Blanche was a sophisticated patron of religion and culture. Through Lindy Grant’s engaging account, based on a close analysis of Blanche’s household accounts and of the social and religious networks on which her power and agency depended, Blanche is revealed as a vibrant and intellectually questioning personality.’
15 September 2016– Arbella Stuart: England’s Almost Queen by Jill Armitage
‘In 1562, Elizabeth I, the last of Henry VIII’s children, lay dying of smallpox, and the curse of the Tudor succession again reared its head. The queen was to recover, but the issue remained: if the queen did not produce an heir, who was next in line to succeed?
Enter Lady Arbella Stuart, cousin to both the English queen and James VI of Scotland, a woman whose parents’ marriage had been orchestrated to provide an heir to the English throne. Raised by her formidable grandmother, Bess of Hardwick, Arbella lived her life in Elizabeth’s shadow and, unfortunately, at her mercy.
Jill Armitage lovingly revitalises Arbella’s tale, focusing on her lineage, her life and her legacy. Through her story we discover a well-born, well-educated woman desperate to control her own fate, but who is ultimately powerless against those in the scheming Tudor court; and we explore the harsh reality that comes from being on the wrong side of the calculated revenge of a jealous queen.’
15 October 2016 – Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife by Amy Licence
‘Catherine of Aragon continues to fascinate readers 500 years after she became Henry VIII’s first queen. Her life was one of passion and determination, of suffering and hope, but ultimately it is a tragic love story, as circumstances conspired against her. Having lost her first husband, Henry’s elder brother Prince Arthur, she endured years of ill health and penury, to make a dazzling second match in Henry VIII. There is no doubt that she was Henry’s true love, compatible with him in every respect and, for years, she presided over a majestic court as the personification of his ideal woman. However, Catherine’s body failed her in an age when fertility meant life or death. When it became clear that she could no longer bear children, the king’s attention turned elsewhere, and his once chivalric devotion became resentment. Catherine’s final years were spent in lonely isolation but she never gave up her vision: she was devoted to her faith, her husband and to England, to the extent that she was prepared to be martyred for them. One of the most remarkable women of the Tudor era, Catherine’s legendary focus may have contributed to the dissolution of the way of life she typified.’