Queens of the Crusades: England’s Medieval Queens

Alison Weir. Ballantine, $30 (560p) ISBN 978-1-101-96669-3
Novelist and historian Weir follows Queens of the Conquest with this meticulous group biography of the first five Plantagenet queens of England. Moving chronologically, Weir spotlights the historical context in which each queen lived and ruled to create a large-scale, though somewhat dry, record of their era. Citing recent scholarship, she brushes away long-standing legends, including the story of Eleanor of Castile (1241–1290) sucking poison from husband Edward I’s stab wound, and contends that Henry II’s wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204), was not quite the literary patron she’s often made out to be. Due to widowhood, many of these queens’ stories overlap, though Weir shows how Richard the Lionheart’s neglected queen, Berengaria of Navarre (c.1165–1230), largely faded from view because she had no children for whom to advocate after her husband’s death. Notably, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria, and Eleanor of Castile accompanied their husbands on Crusades; later, Alienor of Provence (c.1222–1291), wife of Henry III, and Eleanor of Castile raised armies to free their husbands from captivity by rebellious English nobles. Weir skillfully documents the political, religious, and cultural issues of medieval England and France, but her wide-angled view keeps each woman from coming fully to life. Readers will miss the vibrancy that characterizes Weir’s other work. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 09/16/2020
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-101-96670-9
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