The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy

Leanda de Lisle, Author . Ballantine $30 (350p) ISBN 978-0-345-49135-0

Although the Tudor era has inspired a flood of literature, de Lisle (After Elizabeth ), in her second book, illuminates three remarkable characters of the time, the Grey sisters, who were named by both Henry VIII and his son, Edward, as heirs to the throne. But, says de Lisle, “Dynastic politics, religious propaganda, and sexual prejudice have since buried [the sisters] in legend and obscurity.” ' De Lisle demonstrates that while Jane, long viewed as helpless, was indeed young and pressed to accept the crown, she was exceptionally intelligent, educated and confident as England's first queen regnant and a passionate Protestant evangelical leader. Under Elizabeth I, Jane's sister Katherine married secretly without the queen's consent and was imprisoned because her pregnancy threatened Elizabeth with the possibility of a legitimate royal heir; after seven years in prison, Katherine died, likely of self-starvation. Mary also married without Elizabeth's consent and was imprisoned for seven years, but was eventually rehabilitated at court only to die of plague at age 33. De Lisle has produced an excellent, assiduously researched account of dynastic politics at its worst, focusing on three fascinating and often overlooked women. Photos.(Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 06/15/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
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