She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth

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9780061430770: She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth

The boy in the bed was just fifteen years old. He had been handsome, perhaps even recently; but now his face was swollen and disfigured by disease, and by the treatments his doctors had prescribed in the attempt to ward off its ravages. Their failure could no longer be mistaken.

When Edward VI - Henry VIII's longed-for son - died in 1553, extraordinarily, there was no one left to claim the title King of England. For the first time, all the contenders for the crown were female.

In 1553, England was about to experience the 'monstrous regiment' - the unnatural rule - of a woman. But female rule in England also had a past. Four hundred years before Edward's death, Matilda, daughter of Henry I and granddaughter of William the Conquerer, came tantalisingly close to securing her hold on the power of the crown. And between the 12th and the 15th centuries three more exceptional women - Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, and Margaret of Anjou - discovered, as queens consort and dowager, how much was possible if the presumptions of male rule were not confronted so explicitly.

The stories of these women - told here in all their vivid humanity - illustrate the paradox which the female heirs to the Tudor throne had no choice but to negotiate. Man was the head of woman; and the king was the head of all. How, then, could a woman be king, how could royal power lie in female hands?

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'A rollicking account of four medieval queens ... Castor's book is a gem of blood-and-thunder storytelling, packed with terrific vignettes.' --Sunday Times

Combining top-notch scholarship with fizzing storytelling ... Packed with wonderful historical anecdotes ... A fascinating account of a group of women who refused to do what they were told and, in the process, paved the way for England's great female rulers. --Mail on Sunday

If God ordained men should rule over women, how can a woman ever rule a nation? This question perplexed medieval Europe, and in She-Wolves (Faber) the young historian Helen Castor explores it with energy and flair, taking as her leading ladies four formidable English queens who preceded the Tudors. Each of these women challenged what was seen as the natural order, and Castor makes their complex stories highly readable, exciting and thought-provoking. --Hilary Mantel, Guardian

'The compelling story of four of the most powerful women who shaped British history... the book is dedicated to Castor's two history teachers, who she says inspired her, and it will not disappoint them or her new readers.' --Daily Mail

If God ordained men should rule over women, how can a woman ever rule a nation? This question perplexed medieval Europe, and in She-Wolves (Faber) the young historian Helen Castor explores it with energy and flair, taking as her leading ladies four formidable English queens who preceded the Tudors. Each of these women challenged what was seen as the natural order, and Castor makes their complex stories highly readable, exciting and thought-provoking. --Hilary Mantel, Guardian

'Combining careful scholarship with a novelist's eye for detail, Castor offers a fresh perspective and an engaging narrative that barrels along. Few books actually merit that hoary critical commonplace 'unputdownable', but this is certainly one of them.' --Independent on Sunday

If God ordained men should rule over women, how can a woman ever rule a nation? This question perplexed medieval Europe, and in She-Wolves (Faber) the young historian Helen Castor explores it with energy and flair, taking as her leading ladies four formidable English queens who preceded the Tudors. Each of these women challenged what was seen as the natural order, and Castor makes their complex stories highly readable, exciting and thought-provoking. --Hilary Mantel, Guardian

Book Description:

The fascinating story of how royal power came to lie female hands for the first time under the Tudor queens - and of the four women who came before them and who, whilst never reigining monarchs, held great power.

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