Packed with dramatic true stories from one of European history’s most romantic and turbulent eras, this epic narrative chronicles the five vividly rendered queens of the Plantagenet kings who ruled England between 1299 and 1409.
“A thorough and illuminating survey of the Plantagenet dynasty.”—Publishers Weekly
The Age of Chivalry describes a period of medieval history dominated by the social, religious, and moral code of knighthood that prized noble deeds, military greatness, and the game of courtly love between aristocratic men and women. It was also a period of high drama in English history, which included the toppling of two kings, the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, and the Peasants’ Revolt. Feudalism was breaking down, resulting in social and political turmoil.
Against this dramatic milieu, Alison Weir describes the lives and reigns of five queen consorts: Marguerite of France was seventeen when she became the second wife of sixty-year-old King Edward I. Isabella of France, later known as “the She-Wolf,” dethroned her husband, Edward II, and ruled England with her lover. In contrast, Philippa of Hainault was a popular queen to the deposed king’s son Edward III. Anne of Bohemia was queen to Richard II, but she died young and childless. Isabella of Valois became Richard’s second wife when she was only six years old, but was caught up in events when he was violently overthrown.
This was a turbulent and brutal age, despite its chivalric color and ethos, and it stands as a vivid backdrop to the extraordinary stories of these queens’ lives.
Historian and novelist Weir follows up Queens of the Crusades with this solid third volume in her series on medieval England's queens. Focusing on the period between 1299 and 1409, Weir spotlights Marguerite of France (wife of Edward I), Isabella of France (wife of Edward II), Philippa of Hainault (wife of Edward III), Anne of Bohemia (first wife of Richard II), and Isabella of Valois (second wife of Richard II). Detailed and immersive profiles humanize these women, showcasing their range of personalities and experiences, from "peacemaker" Marguerite; to Isabella of France, who raised an army to depose her husband; to Isabella of Valois, who married Richard II at age six and was widowed by age 10. In the most evocative segment, Weir seeks to banish the perception of Isabella of France as a "she-wolf," depicting her as a flawed woman who nonetheless exhibited extraordinary courage and resourcefulness in toppling Edward, whose relationships with Hugh le Despenser and other male advisers caused turmoil in their relationship and between England and France. Throughout, Weir focuses on broader themes of chivalry that shaped the era's alliances and debunks the most scandalous court gossip. The result is a thorough and illuminating survey of the Plantagenet dynasty.