Last February I created the Tudor Queens Book Tag – I’m still very proud of it, please feel free to go and do it! – so today I thought I’d go a little further back in time and do the Medieval Queens Book Tag!
I couldn’t do every single medieval queen because there are simply too many – in fact all of the queens below were only queens of England, because my medieval history knowledge outside of England is shockingly poor – so I picked some of my favourites. Three who I think are fairly well known, and three who deserve a little more love.
Empress Matilda (1102-1167)
After her father, Henry I, died naming her his heir, Matilda’s cousin, Stephen, subsequently took the throne for himself. Matilda never stopped fighting for what was rightfully hers. Though she would never be named Queen of England in her own right, she was able to convince Stephen to name her son, the future Henry II, his successor over his own children. Choose a book with a protagonist who stands their ground.
I have to go with Ali, who was my favourite characters in The City of Brass—and the whole trilogy, to be honest. He takes his faith incredibly seriously and he has a moral compass that he follows even when life would be so much easier for him if he didn’t.
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204)
Before she married Henry II and became Queen of England in 1152, Eleanor was Queen of France as the wife of Louis VII. She sought an annulment from her marriage to Louis and he eventually agreed because 15 years of marriage had produced no sons, only for Eleanor to go on to have eight children with Henry—five of whom were sons. Ouch! Choose a book or series in which the heroine has more than one romantic relationship.
If you still haven’t started The Memoirs of Lady Trent, I can’t recommend the audiobooks narrated by Kate Reading enough. I love Isabella, and being able to follow her from childhood through to her middle ages throughout this series was such a joy.
Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290)
A keen patron of literature and a successful businesswoman in her own right, Eleanor was Edward I’s first wife. He was so heartbroken when she died that he erected the Eleanor Crosses, 12 stone crosses marking the places where her body rested over night on its journey from Lincolnshire, where she died, to her burial place in London. Three of the crosses still survive today. Choose a bittersweet book.
Admittedly A Thousand Splendid Suns is more along the lines of absolutely heartbreaking than bittersweet, but it still fits. I finally read this novel last summer and really enjoyed it; I’ll definitely be checking out more of Khaled Hosseini’s work in future.
Isabella of France (1295-1358)
Often known as the ‘She-Wolf of France’, Isabella was Edward II’s wife. Unfortunately for Edward he wasn’t particularly good at being king, and Isabella soon grew tired of his (possibly homosexual) relationship with his favourite, Hugh Despenser. After she began an affair with English nobleman Roger Mortimer while on a diplomatic mission to France, the pair returned to England with an army and she deposed Edward and acted as regent until their son, the future Edward III, came of age. Choose a book where the romance overtook the plot.
I love historical crime and it’s so rare to come across historical crime set before the Victorian era that has a woman at its centre, so I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered Mistress of the Art of Death, which follows a woman who solves murders in medieval England. Unfortunately the romance ended up becoming more important than how the heroine, Adelia, went about solving the murder and it was very frustrating. I read books two and three in this series, too – with three being my favourite (but not by much) – and ended up giving up before I got to the fourth and final book because I wasn’t getting the story I wanted.
Philippa of Hainault (1310/15-1369)
Queen of England as the wife of Edward III, Philippa was beloved by the English people for her compassion and kindness. The Queen’s College, Oxford, founded in 1341, is named in her honour, so choose a book set at a university.
Somehow, I’ve never read a campus novel, so Ninth House will be my first when I get to it! I’m hoping to pick it up this autumn.
Joan of Navarre (1368-1437)
Joan was Henry IV’s second wife. Six years after his death, Joan was accused of attempting to poison her stepson, Henry V, through witchcraft and was imprisoned for four years until he ordered her release, just six weeks before he suddenly died. Choose a book about witches.
If any of you thought I wasn’t going to take this opportunity to gush about one of my favourite novels for the billionth time, you thought wrong. Signal to Noise follows one of my favourite heroines, Meche, a teenager in 1980s Mexico City who discovers she can cast spells with her vinyl records. It’s such a unique take on witchcraft and this book doesn’t get enough love.
And that’s the Medieval Queens Book Tag! If you’d like to give it a try then please do, and please link back to this post so I can check out your answers.