She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens – Helen Castor

‘She-Wolves: England’s Early Queen’s’ presented by Helen Castor starts on BBC4 tonight at 9pm.

‘Historian Dr Helen Castor explores the lives of seven English queens who challenged male power, the fierce reactions they provoked and whether the term ‘she wolves’ was deserved.’ (BBC4)


The three part series is based on Helen’s book, ‘She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth’ which was published in 2010. ‘She Wolves’ was named ‘a History Book of the Year’ by both The Independent and The Sunday Times.

According to Live Magazine (Mail on Sunday), the series:

‘will conclude with the famous Tudor queens, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I, which leaves the first two episodes to four ladies who ruled but, crucially did not reign before them.

The opener profiles the 12th-century struggles and wars of Henry I’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, and her daughter-in-law, Eleanor of Aquitaine, against the male monopoly of monarchy. Next week, Castor looks at the French consorts Isabella and Margaret (the original ‘she-wolf’, as Shakespeare vilifies her in Henry VI, Part III).’

(p 53, Live Magazine).

Part 1 is BBC History Magazine’s ‘Pick of the Week.’

The Radio Times preview describes Dr Castor as having

‘a firm grip on her material, and her calm delivery is full of measured interpretation.’

Matilda, the Empress and Eleanor of Aquitaine were ‘tough and pragmatic, both kicked against the status quo, fought for their sons and ensured dynastic continuation.’ (p,92 Radio Times)

She-Wolves Trailer

H.M.Castor (@HMCastor) has posted an advertisement for her sister’s programme which features Lady Jane Grey.


Helen has written articles about the programmes for BBC History Magazine, The Sunday Express and the Radio Times.

She –Wolves: England’s Early Queens – Radio Times

A Queen in a King’s World – BBC History Magazine

The Queens who showed Kings how to be Men

Part 1 – ‘Matilda and Eleanor’ will be repeated:

Thursday 8 March – 3.45am
Sunday 11 March – 8pm
Monday 12 March – 2.55am

Tuesday 13 March – 7pm & 11pm


Radio Times, 3-9 March 2012
Live (The Mail on Sunday), 4 March 2012
BBC4 – She-Wolves: England’s Early Queens

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