Queens of the Conquest

Queens of the Conquest The Story Of England S Medieval Queens Is Vivid And Stirring, Packed With Tragedy, High Drama And Even Comedy It Is A Chronicle Of Love, Murder, War And Betrayal, Filled With Passion, Intrigue And Sorrow, Peopled By A Cast Of Heroines, Villains, Stateswomen And Lovers In The First Volume Of This Epic New Series, Alison Weir Strips Away Centuries Of Romantic Mythology And Prejudice To Reveal The Lives Of England S Queens In The Century After The Norman ConquestBeginning With Matilda Of Flanders, Who Supported William The Conqueror In His Invasion Of England In , And Culminating In The Turbulent Life Of The Empress Maud, Who Claimed To Be Queen Of England In Her Own Right And Fought A Bitter War To That End, The Five Norman Queens Emerge As Hugely Influential Figures And Fascinating CharactersMuch Than A Series Of Individual Biographies, Queens Of The Conquest Is A Seamless Tale Of Interconnected Lives And A Rich Portrait Of English History In A Time Of Flux In Alison Weir S Hands These Five Extraordinary Women Reclaim Their Rightful Roles At The Centre Of English History

Librarian Note There is than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.Alison Weir is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens, and of historical fiction Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs She received her formal training in history at teacher training

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  • Hardcover
  • 468 pages
  • Queens of the Conquest
  • Alison Weir
  • English
  • 02 September 2017
  • 9781910702079

10 thoughts on “Queens of the Conquest

  1. says:

    Although I am an avid History reader, I always approach any Non Fiction History books with caution, since we all know that no Historian either professional or amateur can be wholly objective, especially when it comes to biographies Now, I can t claim to be much familiar with Alison Weir s work, but she comes highly recommended by trusted Goodreads friends and since the extraordinary queens in English History have always been a favourite subject of mine, I chose Queens of the Conquest eagerly I wasn t disappointed I found the book to be thoroughly researched and a satisfying read with only a few weak parts.The book narrates the lives of the queens of England after the Norman conquest in 1066 but doesn t include Emma of Normandy and Eleanor of Aquitaine who is mentioned in the periphery, nonetheless along with Isabella of France since Weir has written separate biographies of the two illustrious monarchs So, our focus is on Matilda of Flanders of the Bayeux Tapestry fame, Matilda of Scotland, Adeliza of Louvain, Matilda of Boulogne, and my personal favourite, the Empress Maud Weir stresses the fact that sources of information coming from monastic chronicles are difficult to be trusted Think of the raiding Vikings and the horned helmets which was a fairy tale way for the monks to refer to the Norsemen as the personification of the Devil And it is to be expected that the views of the Church authorities about a woman in a position of full power were not favourable, to put it mildly It is evident in her writing that Weir tries to create a balanced view of each queen by presenting the positive and the negative opinions of the time She includes letters, chronicles and testimonials to paint a portrait of each woman that will be as rounded and objective as possible In my opinion, she succeeds to the fullest and creates a vivid biography by providing background information about the era, the daily life, the castles, the clothes, the customs and beliefs And so it lasted till the land was all undone and darkened with such deeds and men said openly that Christ and His Saints slept The narration of the war between Maud and Stephen and the time of his reign which was called The Anarchy is the most fascinating moment of the book, in my opinion Maud has always been one of my favourite queens along with Isabella of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine I like the rebel queens who refused to be defined by their husbands and bend the knee Maud is also one of the reason I love Follett s The Pillars of the Earth so much Part 4 is a beauty There we have the first years of Henry s reign in the shadow of his mother, Maud, and his wife, Eleanor.It is an era that most history buffs are very familiar with, an era that brought about so many changes not only in England but in the whole European continent Another incident that attracted my attention was the complex, turbulent relationship between Matilda of Flanders and William the Conqueror If the historical anecdotes are indeed accurate, then Matilda was an extremely courageous woman to put up with such a husband Not that there were many means that women could use to defend themselves at the time, whether they were queens or peasants.The only weak part of the book, in my opinion, was the heavy inclusion of correspondence Certainly, it helps us understand and realize that these historical figures that contributed in shaping Europe were people with fears, hopes, passions and incredible responsibilities on their shoulders However, the Appendixes include the letters in their entirety It became progressively tiresome to stop the narration in order to present quotes from the same letter again and again Another thing that diminished my enjoyment was the plethora of syntactical and grammatical mistakes in my ARC I hope and believe that they will be corrected in the published book, because they are almost childish at parts and yes, I am a serious case of Grammar Nazi, I admit.Whether you are a connoisseur of the times of the Norman conquest and the monarchs that sealed England s future forever or whether you wish to become familiar with the lives of five of the most fascinating women to ever grace this continent in an era full of changes, fights and progress and all at the same time, this book will definitely satisfy your craving.Many thanks to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

  2. says:

    I love how well referenced and multilayered was the review of all the facts and myths, however fragmented by time While it goes with the territory that the historian in question has to make certain assumptions, Weir never went out of hand with her deductions and tried to keep rooted in fact rather than fiction And the fiction, it got to be heard in just such a way as not to prevent the factology from prevailing A very well balanced and properly researched study of medieval royal females Another thing that I loved is how accessibly for a layperson the material is presented terms explained, dates given, explanations provided So anybody who s not a history buff with all the dates memorised by heart gets a chance to understand the context.Q Few people in Norman times were ignorant of the story of Eve, who disobeyed God by tempting Adam, and so brought about the Fall of Man Thanks to Eve, women were seen to be weak and foolish but they also had power and might use it unwisely The late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, however, saw a remarkable improvement in perceptions of women, with the spread of the cult of the Virgin Mary from the East to western Europe This was due to various factors returning crusaders, the preaching of great theologians like St Bernard of Clairvaux, and the adoption of Mary by the new monastic Cistercian Order as their patron saint, although the dedication of many churches to Mary in eleventh century Normandy shows that the mother of Jesus was already widely venerated there, as she had in fact been for centuries in the West The cult was fostered by churchmen close to Henry I,3 who reigned from 1100 to 1135 As Mary came to be worshipped widely for her virginal, maternal and wifely purity, and as the Queen of Heaven, so women who personified the Marian virtues were revered by society generally, and queens themselves, her earthly counterparts, began to be seen as the idealized mirror of the Virgin Mary, and to be invested with symbolic virginity It has been suggested that queens came to be regarded as the earthly personification of the Virgin, just as kings were seen as vicars of Christ Expectations of queenliness were therefore almost supernaturally high c Q It was seen as incumbent on a wife and still on a queen to encourage her husband to patronize religious institutions and be charitable In this period, every queen was a benefactress of the Church in one way or another, and most laid up treasure in Heaven for themselves or their loved ones by founding or endowing religious houses In so doing, they not only sought the protection of the saints to whom these houses were dedicated, but also placed themselves at the forefront of the new monastic movements that dominated the age Some queens became involved in debates about the burning spiritual issues of the day All were expected to be the epitome of holy virtue Wealth was deemed a privilege, and those who had it were expected to share it as alms with those less fortunate than themselves, thereby obtaining some spiritual benefit, since charity was an act of contrition that freed one from sin Thus queens set aside money for their charities They aided the poor and the sick, made offerings at shrines, and endowed or founded churches, religious houses and hospitals Queens were the gentler face of monarchy, exercising a civilizing influence on their husbands, protecting their joint interests, taking compassion on the poor, the sick, widows, orphans and those in prison They were applauded when they used their feminine influence to intercede with the King in favor of those facing a harsh fate, thus enabling him to rescind a decision without losing face Many instances of queens using their influence probably went largely unrecorded, for a queen enjoyed a unique advantage over other petitioners due to her intimate relationship with the King If she interceded with her husband it was usually in private, so it can be hard to assess the extent of it The medieval ideal of queenship constrained her to a role that was essentially decorous, symbolic and dynastic She was to be beautiful officially, even if not in actuality devout, fertile and kind the traditional good queen c Q Agatha s grieving mother and father may well have shared the sentiments of a contemporary Byzantine historian, Michael Psellus, whose oration on the death of his daughter proves that, even in an age of high infant mortality, the death of a child was mourned no less than it is now O my child, formerly so beautiful and now a frightful sight to see Go then on that good eternal journey and rest in those heavenly places Reveal yourself in our dreams as you were prior to your illness, bringing solace to our hearts You will thus bring joy to your parents, and they may recover a little from this heavy sorrow Nothing is stronger than Nature nor is there anything calamitous than the loss of a child c Q From around 1080 to 1086, her youngest son, Henry, appears to have lived in England in the care of the saintly Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, a Norman nobleman who had taken holy orders and served as lord chancellor to the King, to whom he was related by marriage It was probably under Osmund s auspices that Henry received the excellent education that would stand him in good stead in later life The early years of instruction he passed in liberal arts, and thoroughly imbibed the sweets of learning Possibly, since he was the youngest son, he was intended for a career in the Church, for which education was primarily regarded as a preparation In an age in which kings were illiterate, Henry even learned to read and write Latin, and from the fourteenth century was nicknamed Beauclerc because of his famed literary skills As he grew up, he often quoted, in his father s hearing, the proverb, An illiterate king is a crowned ass William did not take offense Observing his son s disposition, the King never omitted any means of cherishing his lively prudence and once, when he had been ill used by one of his brothers, and was in tears, he spirited him up by saying, Weep not, my boy, you too will be a king c Q thus No prosperous state did make her glad,Nor adverse chances made her sad.If Fortune frowned, she then did smile,If Fortune smiled, she feared the while.If beauty tempted, she said nay,No pride she took in sceptre s sway.She only high her self debased,A lady only fair and chaste c Q When the King had a bath, the ewerer received 4d except on the great feasts of the year, which suggests that royalty bathed regularly although how often is not known In the early twelfth century King John had eight baths a year c Q Later it would become customary for queens to be attended only by women during their confinements, setting a trend that would see men banished from birthing chambers for centuries, but in this period it was acceptable for male physicians to be in attendance, although it was recommended that they avoided looking the mother in the face, as women were accustomed to be shamed by that during and after birth c Q The chroniclers struggled with the young lady s name, giving it variously as Adeliza, Adelid a , Adelicia, Adela, Adala, Adelaide, Adelheite, Adeline, Adelina, Aeliz, Aethelice, Aleyda, Alice, Alicia, Aaliz and Adelidis To Flemish and Proven al poets, she was Alise, Adelais or Alix la Belle c Q In 1119, Henry had celebrated the marriage of his heir, William, to Mahaut of Anjou, and in 1120 he created him duke of Normandy The young Duke was no unifier of peoples like his father he was heard to boast, When I am king, I will yoke the English like oxen to the plow His future subjects were spared such a fate c Q Blanche Nef the White Ship No ship was ever productive of so much misery None was ever so notorious in the history of the world c Q To compensate Bishop Roger, the King had invited him to perform the ceremony, and the wily Bishop began the service early in the morning, hoping to preempt the Archbishop But the avenging Primate tottered in halfway through the proceedings, just as the Queen had been crowned and Bishop Roger had placed the king s crown on Henry s head The Archbishop promptly snatched it off, and put it on again with his own hands before re crowning Adeliza, but then collapsed with exhaustion and had to ask Bishop Roger to complete the service after all Adeliza maintained her dignity, her beauty dazzling her diadem c Q The earliest known English carving of the coronation of the Virgin Mary was found at Reading Abbey, suggesting that the King and his family were devotees of the spreading cult of Mary.Q Maud was now twenty three, and of striking appearance She had German manners and probably spoke Norman French with a German accent, in a deep, masculine voice By all accounts, the prudent and gracious young girl beloved by the Emperor s subjects had matured into a formidable character, confident, unbending and independent minded a young woman of clear understanding and masculine firmness The sympathetic William of Malmesbury, to whom Maud was patron, referred to her as a virago, which then meant a female warrior or courageous heroine, and had not yet acquired its modern sense of being domineering, scolding or shrewish Other chroniclers mentioned Maud s masculine stridency She had the nature of a man in the frame of a woman Her enemy Arnulf, Bishop of Lisieux, wrote that she was an intrepid spirit but had nothing of the woman in her The virulently hostile anonymous author of the Gesta Stephani, the chronicle history of the deeds of King Stephen, stated that she was always superior to feminine softness Indefatigable, brave, tenacious and resourceful, she was in many respects her father s daughter William of Malmesbury wrote admiringly that she resembled him in her energy, her iron will and her fortitude, and her mother in sanctity Piety and assiduity vied with each other in her character, nor was it easy to discern which of her good qualities was most commendable c Q One of the works of the Neoplatonist philosopher Bernard of Chartres was dedicated to Maud by a pupil of his, who clearly thought that she would appreciate Bernard s teaching that reality is composed of three invisible, immutable principles God, ideas and matter It was he who coined the saying, We are dwarfs astride the shoulders of giants c Q In agreeing to free Maud and let her go to Robert in Bristol, instead of responding repressively after the fashion of his ancestors, Stephen had again displayed a fateful lack of judgment that one chronicler thought incredible He had been very foolish and in so doing bore the responsibility for the violence that followed c Q Stephen was no Henry I, who had ruled by brute force, and Maud was no politician or diplomat In the absence of a strong ruler and effective central government, chaos began to reign c Q Yet criticism of her hauteur came not only from antagonistic sources, but also from those who were pro Angevin, which argues that it was well founded c Q To excuse his and others initial support for Stephen, he put his own tactful spin on the events that had followed the King s death, asserting that, because it seemed tedious to wait for the lady, who made delays in coming to England, since her residence was in Normandy, thought was made for the peace of the country, and my brother allowed to reign c Q Acting again as a femme sole, with no nod to her married status, Maud would from now on normally style herself Anglorum Domina Lady of the English , Empress or Queen of the Romans, and daughter of King Henry, to emphasize the legitimacy of her title It was not the custom of the Norman rulers of England to style themselves king until they had been crowned, for their sovereignty was only conferred by that sacred act and sanctified by the anointing with holy oil A drawing of a lost seal attached to a charter Maud gave Geoffrey de Mandeville in 1141 shows her as Queen of the English if an authentic copy, it may have been a seal made in anticipation of her coronation Nevertheless the word Domina made it clear that Maud exercised dominion and power over the people, and we are told that she gloried in being so called c Q The people of London were then in grievous trouble They watched in impotent terror as the outlying suburbs were stripped before their eyes and reduced by the enemy s ravages as a habitation for the hedgehog, and there was no one ready to help them That new lady of theirs was going beyond the bounds of moderation and sorely oppressing them They had no hope that in time to come she would have bowels of mercy for them, seeing that, at the very beginning of her reign, she had no pity on her subjects, and demanded what they could not bear c Q Maud rode to Rouen, where, by the autumn, she had been reunited with her husband and sons After being apart for nine years, she and Geoffrey did not resume married life, although they remained allies, resolved to press Henry FitzEmpress s claim to England.Maud took up residence in the palace built by Henry I at Quevilly, which lay to the south of the city in his hunting park on the left bank of the Seine Here she set up her court, with her own household knights, administrative clerks and chaplains She came to rely on the monks of nearby Notre Dame de Pr for spiritual support and intellectual conversation, and often retreated to the lodgings they kept for her in their guesthouse, living among them as if she was a member of their community, and growing increasingly pious as she aged c Q Matilda also gave an acre of land for an anchorhold to house a holy nun, Helmid, near Faversham Abbey c Q By now Geoffrey had earned the nickname Plantagenet after the broom flower planta genista he customarily wore in his hat The dynasty he founded was to be known by that name c Q In 1153, Henry s men and Stephen s refused to engage in battle, which says much for the general desire to end the war That August, with the two sides shouting terms across the River Thames, a treaty was agreed at Wallingford, which provided that, on Stephen s death, Henry would succeed to the throne of England, restoring the succession to the descendants of Henry I Henry, for his part, was to pay homage to Stephen and keep the peace for the rest of the King s life This brought an end to the civil war Q Only then would Maud endorse the agreement at Wallingford being enshrined in the new Treaty of Westminster, which was signed in November, and in which she merited a mention only as the mother of the Duke She had lost her battles, but her son had won the war, and the crown was to return to the rightful royal line c Q In a manuscript dedicated to the new King, Robert of Cricklade wrote of Maud s triumph In our age there is one woman, daughter and wife of a king, who has seen her son become a most powerful king, and what is even wonderful each of them has the name of Henry This was the way in which Maud would now be remembered and celebrated not for her deeds, or her failings, but as the woman who had transmitted the legitimate right to rule to her descendants Before Henry left for his new kingdom, he went to Rouen and took counsel of his mother, now the respected and vindicated matriarch of the new dynasty, and his brothers Walter Map, a witty observer of the period, did not like Maud, calling her partly good, but mostly evil He asserted that his master s unpleasant character traits were the fault of his mother s teachings She had urged him to spin out all the affairs of everyone, hold long in his own hand all posts that fell in, take the revenues of them, and keep the aspirants to them hanging on in hope She supported this advice by an unkind analogy an unruly hawk, if meat is offered to it and then snatched away or hid, becomes keener and inclinably obedient and attentive She had also enjoined that Henry ought to be much in his chamber and little in public He should never confer anything on anyone at the recommendation of any person, unless he had seen and learnt about it To this advice, Map groused, she added much of the worst kind, including the injunction to be free in bed, infrequent in business In fact, Maud gave Henry wise counsel, and he took good heed of it From now on, though, he would increasingly act independently of his mother, although he still relied on her, and delegated to her, when the occasion required c Q

  3. says:

    Alison Weir is back with another well researched biography of English monarchy, but takes a new and exciting approach Rather than a single biography of a past English monarch, Weir turns her focus onto a collection of medieval queens, many of whom followed one another onto the throne In this first volume, Weir turns her attention to the Norman queens, who shaped what would eventually become the Plantagenets, a ruling dynasty all their own Remembering the time period beginning in the mid 11th century the reader must remember that these were not entirely independent rulers, but also not the wet behind the ears women who nodded and curtsied towards their husbands Rather, they were women who lived during the modern creation of the England that became a key part of the European realm Weir explores five key queens who sought not only to support their husbands, but vie for the English throne at a time when it was still unheard of for a woman to rise to power While there was always a strong political and monarchical struggle especially in pushing for the true role of primogeniture eldest child, rather than solely eldest son within the realm, the idea that queens could be compassionate to their subjects begins to emerge From those who sought to build connections with the common folk to the queens who would establish themselves as compassionate to the sick and dying, Weir exemplifies these women as those who knew how to curry favour with the entire English populace and not solely those at court With additional focus on the genealogical connections between them, the reader can see how some of these issues persist from one generation to the next and how bloodlines fuel battlegrounds for the true right to ascend the English Throne England fought a Civil War over the question of succession to the throne and lost a potential Queen Regnant who was not strong enough to vie for her blood right Fans of Weir s non fiction work may enjoy this piece, rich in history and social commentary of the time, as well as those with a curiosity in England s medieval monarchs I did enjoy it, but find that this period in English history may precede the time period that fascinates me most Weir s work is surely an acquired taste, as I have said to many people over the years She is one of the few authors I read who is able to write in both the non and fiction realms at an equally high calibre Her attention to detail and passion for the subject at hand appears in every book, though some of her non fiction work can become quite detailed and therefore a little dry For me, the subject matter usually plays a key role in what will draw me to the book and I fully admit that medieval history can be a little too far back in time to fully enthral me That being said, Weir makes not only a valiant effort to show how older history can be exciting, but also that there are strong ties to modern themes found in these early queens The role of women in the English monarchy is a theme that Weir explores, discussing the three types of queens regnant, consort, and dowager and how history interpreted this when it came to certain members of the royal family As always, primogeniture played a strong role in the understanding of who could ascend to the English Throne Her research is strong and helps propel the narrative of the piece in such a way to offer the reader something they must consider before blindly accepting what happened in history Weir does enjoy the minutiae, which may not appeal to many, but these fragments of information that may not have been seen or effectively pulled together before help to shape her strong arguments throughout While I remain baffled as to how Weir can effectively juggle two multi volume series simultaneously, unrelated to one another, I am eager to see where else she will go with this series I may return for another volume, though my reticence is only the subject matter and not the quality of her writing.Kudos, Madam Weir for such a wonderful introduction into this historical exploration of the early Norman queens I can see there is much to say about them and you are the best person to be handed the reins Love hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge

  4. says:

    3.5 starsWhile meticulously researched, this book suffered from a lack of focus Ostensibly it aimed to reveal the lives of the five Norman Queens, but the dearth of direct extant evidence means that it was generalised history than truly revelatory biography We see something of the women, but almost as much about the men in their periphery and about the wider society in which they lived Perhaps my dissatisfaction here is simply a matter of preference, I wanted a sharper look at the specific female experience As a result, I was less invested and as the writing style was often bitty, the overall experience of the book suffered Interesting, but not as good as I hoped.ARC via Netgalley

  5. says:

    A great thank you to Ms Alison Weir, Ballantine Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.I m ecstatic about Weir s new Queen series with the first two novels released Katharine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn So when I heard of a new nonfiction release book one in a series I jumped at the chance to review it Weir is s touchstone of British history, with in depth research and a fluid narrative style All of her books I have read, both fiction and nonfiction, have been written with meticulous care of the facts as well as a high entertainment value.So starting out I m reminded that everyone is named Matilda I ve always found this era so confusing and rarely read about it But Weir does a stellar job at separating the queens to minimize this effect Although the timelines, of course, do overlap it s easy to tell everyone apart by distinction The majority of the book delves into the Anarchy period, mostly, I m sure, because that s the heaviest documented This was an exceptional educational experience for me I knew little about the Anglo Saxon queens This was perfectly researched and written in a narrated style, so it was easily enjoyed I didn t want to put the book down I look forward to the next in the series.

  6. says:

    In Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir chronicles the tumultuous lives of five medieval queens historians have mostly ignored Her meticulously researched book begins in 1066 with Matilda of Flanders, the wife of William the Conqueror, and ends in 1154 with Empress Maud, an intrepid spirit who fought to rule England Despite a relative scarcity of information, Weir reconstructs a tale of murder, love, ambition, rivalry, treason, adultery and betrayal Each queen s story is filled with details that give readers a vivid sense of the women and the times they lived in Weir s talent as a novelist is evident, but her rigor as a historian is also impressive Queens of the Conquest is filled with child brides, shipwrecks, castles and court intrigue, but it also contains than a hundred pages of supplementary material, including sources, maps and letters Perhaps most notable is Weir s ability to portray the queens as strong, intelligent women without romanticizing them or subjecting them to present day standards Matilda of Flanders initially refused William the Conqueror s proposal because he was a bastard son, only to relent after he beat her so severely she took to her bed to recover It would be easy to dismiss her change of heart as an example of women s subjugation or to assign it to a weakness in character Weir does neither While she does make the inferior position of women clear, she never lapses into polemics Citing a primary source, she records that Matilda told her astonished father she would marry no one but William, for he must be a man of great courage and high daring who could venture to come and beat me in my own father s palace Matilda soon became William s most trusted confidant and would rule as regent in his absence on many occasions When she secretly supported their rebellious son, William railed against the betrayal of the woman whom I love as my very soul but did not punish her I ve already spent too much time on Matilda of Flanders, in part because her section was my favorite, but also because it is easy to get caught up in each woman s tale At a time when queens were valued primarily as breeders of future kings, these women proved they were far than that Maltilda of Scotland, whisked from a nunnery to marry Henry I, garnered criticism for surrounding herself with too many musicians, poets and scholars Queen Adeliza was known for her beauty and her patronage of the arts Empress Maud, who was married off and sent overseas at eight years old, went on to lead a rebellion against King Stephen in hopes of gaining the throne Stephen s queen, Matilda of Boulogne, in turn led her own rebellion to restore her husband to power while he was imprisoned in chains The women s stories, however, aren t the only ones I ll remember Weir s depiction of the plight of their English subjects is also moving The five queens witnessed and, in some instances, caused famine, torture and war Subjects were hung upside down, castrated, flayed and had their eyes put out Villages were burned and lands plundered, often at the behest of the ruling class While I can t say I enjoyed these passages, I m grateful to Weir for documenting them Queens of the Conquest is the first of a four book series about the medieval queens, one which will undoubtedly appeal to fans of British history My only caveat is that the book may not win over readers looking purely for historical drama if you re looking for that, read one of Weir s excellent novels It s a dense book, rich with facts, so at times it can be a bit slow going I admit to skimming all the supplementary material and to occasionally confusing the four four Matildas On the flip side, gaps in the historical record may bother other readers There are few pictorial representations of the women, no diaries, and fewer primary sources than exist for later rulers That said, Weir has done a remarkable job of bringing these women to life I thoroughly enjoyed Queens of the Conquest and plan on reading the next installment.

  7. says:

    My first book by Alison Weir and one that is a useful overview of the Norman Angevin queens The author s style is eminently readable and, had I delved into one of her historical novels, I can certainly see the attraction for her huge success with a flowing, story telling style.It is that story telling though that limits this book as there is much supposition, suggestion and even guesswork without much critique to back views or points up This of course is the challenge when writing about this era, and especially about women, who in the main were devout, pious and charitable baby producing wives who were firmly in the back seat of power and royal influence There are sources and references but these are less successful as there is much anecdote but little of the author s own analysis or the placing of their the queens real influence or not on the men, the courts and kingdoms they played a part in and for a leading medieval writer one certainly would expect this in a non fiction account For Maud this is less so, but here I find a constant theme from the author simple in my telling here but in essence it is Empress Maud bad Matilda of Boulogne good The sources and scarcity of information and records make this book a challenge and the author does use contemporary accounts in places but there is a lot of may, could, possibly and likely Let me be clear though, this is not a bad work far from it as it is informative, readable and pacy but it lacks the solid analysis, references and critique to really challenge both the author and reader in considering the impact and legacy these ladies made and left.

  8. says:

    The queens and mistresses of English history are no strangers to the modern spotlight However, this fascination tends to begin with the Plantagenet period and leaves the women of the Anglo Saxon and Norman Conquest living in a shadow Alison Weir aims to bring some attention to these vivacious female figures in, Queens of the Conquest England s Medieval Queens Alison Weir takes a step in a different direction from her usual repertoire by focusing Queens of the Conquest on the Norman period of English history rather than her usual Plantagenet, Tudor, and some Stuart focus Weir immediately makes it clear that her work is not to be taken as a strict academic, scholarly piece and serves as a narrative introduction into the lives of Matilda of Flanders, Matilda Edith of Scotland, Adeliza of Louvain, Matilda of Boulogne, and the Empress Maud.Weir divides Queens of the Conquest chronologically with each section focusing on one woman at a time but also highlighting the interwoven connections Initially, readers may be a bit apprehensive as Weir kicks off the text with speculative could have and would have statements akin to her recent, lighter history pieces that have clearly been targeting the Average Joe pop history crowd However, that aside, Weir does slip back into her old ways with heavy research and sleuth work Yes, some of the chapters are flimsier than others being that source materials concerning the queens of this period are not numerous and thus, not Weir s sole fault yet, Weir successfully presents lesser known facts and information which are both entertaining and informative even to those familiar with the period and figures Queens of the Conquest is very easy to read but again, is also quite informative Both novice and informed readers will find it useful That being said, there are a couple errors that an editor somehow missed and Weir has a habit of going off on thick tangents which can be skipped Weir, as her readers will attest, likes to present details and all surrounding information which is great, in the sense of truly getting a feel for the period events but also drags the pace and lessens the focus on the actual subject at hand Queens of the Conquest would be shorter in length, had the volume been condensed.As Queens of the Conquest progresses, the text gets stronger and cohesive This may be due to source material available or confidence on Weir s part perhaps a bit of both but whatever the cause it results in a stronger reading Speaking of length, although Queens of the Conquest numbers into the 500 page count Weir composes short chapters which lessens the opportunity for readers to become overwhelmed The final quarter of Queens of the Conquest portraits the dramatic interactions between the Empress Maud Geoffrey Plantagenet and King Stephen Matilda of Boulogne giving the text an exciting boost and making for a history lesson filled with intrigue and heightened readability It s obvious this is where Weir felt the most comfort in her coverage, as it comes through the pages Weir fortifies Queens of the Conquest with block quotes and primary documents helping to strengthen the text Also notable is the absence of biases and snarky comments which have made appearances in recent Weir works and have no place in NF history Luckily, Weir opted out this time around.The conclusion of Queens of the Conquest is nuanced with emotive power without being cheesy or too much like a eulogy Basically, Weir ends on a solid note Queens of the Conquest includes two appendices consisting of a list explanation of chronicle sources and original letters in full which truly offers readers glimpses into not only the beauty of letter writing and education of the period but also into the minds of the letter authors Weir also features a bibliography, brief notes not heavily annotated , and a section of photo color plates.Weir s Queens of the Conquest is a directional look into the lives of queens not oft mentioned and does present readers with a new, refreshing view of the period The writing is readable not being heavily scholarly and academic in tone but still brings forth abundant information Queens of the Conquest is recommended for readers interested in the queenship of English history Note My rating for Queens of the Conquest would be a solid 3.5 In lieu of half stars, I rounded up to 4, generously

  9. says:

    Alison Weir s book about Eleanor of Aquitane was fascinating, so I can t wait to read this story of five medieval queens On a personal note, I had just finished reading Weir s book about Eleanor of Aquitane before a job interview many years ago The interviewer asked who I would invite to dinner if I could invite three people living or dead to share a meal One of the three I listed was Eleanor of Aquitane I got the job I can t wait to get this book and read it.

  10. says:

    This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review.Buckle in children This is going to be a long review I m half tempted to get my APA ass out and do sections since my outline for this is just about three pages long, and that s not including quotes although since this is an ARC, quotes are likely to change and I should check to make sure they re in the published version by my lazy ass will not and me going into detail.My review structure is going to be pretty simple Weir broke this into five sections and there are, technically, only four queens I m just going to sort of go with her sections Also, head s up 4 5 queens are named Matilda I m sorry Please imagine me trying to read this behemoth and keep all the names straight Weir actually changed one of the queens known to history as Matilda to Maud so she wouldn t confuse people as much The Queen of England occupied a powerful and socially desirable position Her status was reflected in every aspect of the ritual and ceremonial that surrounded her and governed her life and she would have been aware of the weight of responsibility that brought with it A queen had to be the embodiment of piety, beyond reproach morally, the guardian of the royal bloodline, a gentle and moderate mediator in the conflicts of men and a helpmeet to her husband Her virtue was exemplified by her chastity and humility, her charity and her acts of mercy Matilda of Flanders Though often apart, Matilda and William clearly worked in unison for the general benefit of their realms, and trusted each other Before this book, I sadly hadn t heard of the first Matilda However, I know a lot about her husband, William the Conqueror Really, Matilda was really the first modern queen She made the model of how queens should act throughout time She was a fantastic leader, helping her husband while also being a regent in Normandy with her son The quarrels that William had with his eldest were straightened out by her She was a religious leader and founded so many places, bringing her own children in as nuns As I said, she was a good mother and took care of her children She was a patron to so many different places, religious and otherwise Really, Matilda is a woman to be admired since she succeeded in a very modern way in a male dominated world Personally, I loved her and definitely want to read books about her.The only thing was her marriage to William It was a bit fucked up I mean, she didn t want to marry him so he came and beat her up, then she said she wanted to marry him for that reason I thought it was great propaganda but really fucked up Matilda of Scotland Chronicles would call the new Queen the second Matilda like the first, she set an example of devout queenship that would be emulated by her successors Another Matilda Technically, her name was Edith and when she married Henry I her name got changed I thought that she modeled herself after her mother in law and her own mother She was extremely religious in nature, washing the sick s feet It made me wonder whether that queenly tradition started with her.However, this part wasn t exactly about her There was a big controversy before her marriage that took up her time Then there was a huge part of the Investiture Controversey where she took the side against her husband, then had to try to warm him up There was a bit of stage setting for the eventual civil war between Maud who will come later and Stephen.Weir also made some claims that she didn t follow up on Such as, her being oppressive in taxation It was mentioned quite a few times, yet never followed up Weir focused on her religiosity She was friends with Anselm of Canterbury, who s pretty famous for his proof for God As I said earlier, she mixed in on the controversy over who has the right to invest bishops with their titles When she died, she almost became a saint Pretty impressive, right Adeliza of Louvain Adeliza would be remembered as the May withouten vice She was young and untried, and was to play virtually no public role in politics If there was ever an antithesis to the first two queens, this was it When Matilda of Scotland died, Henry I remarried to Adeliza Her whole point was to produce legitimate children With Matilda of Scotland, he had two children He had tons of illegitimate children as well Adeliza did not have any children with Henry I and, even worse, Henry lost his only son and had to settle his heir on a woman, Maud, who had been married to the Holy Roman Emperor and stayed in the Germanic territories until he died and left her a widow.This section wasn t about Adeliza, quite honestly This section was setting the stage by explaining who Stephen was or about Maud She never did anything religious as a queen and she wasn t involved in government The later section actually talked about her With her second husband, she had children Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard actually claim her as a descendant through those children In her second marriage, she also created religious houses and issued charters Matilda of Boulogne and Empress Maud The energetic Queen Matilda proved a formidable political opponent to the Empress The two women had much in common both were strong characters, heiresses with royal Saxon blood and nieces of King David of Scots Both were married to forceful, acquisitive men, and ambitious for their sons This last real section combined both the queens involved in the civil war After Henry I died, Maud was supposed to inherit the throne However, she was with her husband on him later and Stephen jumped at the chance and took the throne From there, it turned into a civil war.Henry really undermined Maud s cause, honestly I think she would have made a great queen and the toils of war were what caused her to act as she did First, he married her off to a man eleven years younger than her without getting support from anyone in England Second, he never involved her in politics Third, she had to spend time with her husband rather than be in England to make a presence So, she got fucked over When she was in the war, the English largely viewed her as haughty and that she was pretending to be a man since she came to England as a woman alone Her husband never supported her, but tried to win Normandy She was literally alone and trying to navigate a poltical field that she had never been brought into So, to me, Weir s comment in the last chapter about Maud acting this way because of menopause was absolutely absurd She was stressed out Of course you do stupid things when you re stressed out Further, why can t you take a feminist reading This is the time period when men s domination over women was being formalized and it s certainly down to the Bible and tradition that she was seen as unfit.So, to me, Weir s comment in the last chapter about Maud acting this way because of menopause was absolutely absurd She was stressed out Of course you do stupid things when you re stressed out Further, why can t you take a feminist reading This is the time period when men s domination over women was being formalized and it s certainly down to the Bible and tradition that she was seen as unfit.It was obvious that Matilda favored Maud, even though she treated both women evenly Matilda was in about the same state as Maud, but she was backed up by her husband She ruled while he fought While Maud was seen as usurping her femaleness, Matilda was viewed as a queen ought to be I think this quote sums it up better In the eyes of male contemporaries, Maud had behaved in an imperious, unwomanly fashion, while at the same time manifesting the weaknesses of her sex Queen Matilda, on the other hand, had shown herself as tough and thrusting as Maud, and men had praised her manly courage, yet she had retained support because she acted in Stephen s name, and won sympathy because she had to act alone while he was imprisoned Maud made the same mistakes Stephen made, yet they were interpreted differently through history Her mistakes were because she was a woman unused to doing this Stephen made these mistakes because they were an accident Maud just didn t have anyone to help her out like Matilda did.My concluding thoughts are that this book is good, but focused a lot on men or people other than some of the queens Perhaps this book would have been better as separate biographies on the women, not like they were The ending totally pissed me off and left me with a bad taste in my mouth since I definitely think it s appropriate to read history through a feminist lens.

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