Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Princesses of King Edward Longshanks

Kelcey Wilson-Lee. Pegasus, $29 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64313-194-8
In her appealing debut, British historian Wilson-Lee shines a light on the five daughters of Edward I of England: Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary, and Elizabeth. She argues that, though they were overshadowed by their mother Eleanor of Castile and sister-in-law Isabella (widely known as the She-Wolf of France), these educated royal women avoided the modern stereotype of the passive medieval princess by acting as regents, alliance brokers, and patrons: Joanna questioned and defied her strong-willed father’s orders, choosing her own second husband and supporting her reckless brother while he was estranged from their father; Mary, who involuntarily entered a convent at age 6, eventually became a nun who took full advantage of her rank, moving between manors and overspending with goldsmiths. A few modern suppositions, such as that multiple children signified happy or at least content marriages and that darkened birthing rooms were felt to be soothing (rather than being primarily for the purpose of shielding the woman from public view), may strike historically aware readers as questionable. But Wilson-Lee’s in-depth narrative on these overlooked women, perfect for Anglophiles, adds new context to the much-studied courts of Edwards I and II. Agent: George Lucas, Inkwell Management. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 06/26/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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