She Wolves: England’s Early Queens DVD

10 December 2012 – She Wolves: England’s Early Queens DVD

The DVD of Dr Helen Castor’s 3 part series ‘She Wolves: England’s Early Queens’ is released today. Nice to see a picture of Lady Jane Grey on the cover!

First shown on BBC4 in March 2012, the 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.


‘In the Medieval and Tudor world there was no question in people’s minds about the order of God’s creation – men ruled and women didn’t. A king was a warrior who literally fought to win power then battled to keep it. Yet despite everything that stood in their way, a handful of extraordinary women did attempt to rule medieval and Tudor England. On this DVD, historian Dr Helen Castor explores seven queens who challenged male power, the fierce reactions they provoked and whether the term ‘she wolves’ was deserved.

800 years ago, Matilda came within a hair’s breadth of being the first woman to be crowned queen of England in her own right. Castor explores how Matilda reached this point and why her bid for the throne ultimately failed. Her daughter-in-law Eleanor of Aquitaine was an equally formidable woman. Despite being remembered as the queen of courtly love, in reality during her long life she divorced one king and married another, only to lead a rebellion against him. In 1308 a 12-year-old girl, Isabella of France, became queen of England when she married the English king. A century later another young French girl, Margaret of Anjou, followed in her footsteps. Both these women were thrust into a violent and dysfunctional England and both felt driven to take control of the kingdom themselves. Isabella would be accused of murder and Margaret of destructive ambition – it was Margaret who Shakespeare named the She Wolf. In 1553 for the first time in English history all the contenders for the crown were female. In the lives of these three Tudor queens – Jane, Mary and Elizabeth – she explores how each woman struggled in turn with wearing a crown that was made for a male head. Elizabeth I seemed to show that not only could a woman rule, but could do so gloriously, but at what cost?’


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