UK Release Date: May 31, 2009
This first comprehensive biography of Henry I, the youngest son of William the Conqueror and an elusive figure for historians, offers a rich and compelling account of his tumultuous life and reign. Judith Green argues that although Henry's primary concern was defence of his inheritance this did not preclude expansion where circumstances were propitious, notably into Welsh territory. His skilful dealings with the Scots permitted consolidation of Norman rule in the northern counties of England, while in Normandy every sinew was strained to defend frontiers through political alliances and stone castles. Green argues that although Henry's own outlook was essentially traditional, the legacy of this fascinating and ruthless personality included some fundamentally important developments in governance. She also sheds light on Henry’s court, suggesting that it made an important contribution to the flowering of court culture throughout twelfth-century Europe.
UK Release Date: May 4, 2009
Francoise d'Aubigne, born in a bleak provincial prison, her father a condemned murderer and traitor to the state, rose from the depths of poverty to life at the vortex of power at Versailles. Married at fifteen to a tragically disfigured and scandalously popular poet, in his salon Francoise encountered all the brilliant characters of the seventeenth century's glitterati. After her husband's death, she led the life of a merry widow in the colourful Marais quarter of Paris, before becoming governess to the King's growing brood of royal batards. This is the extraordinary story of one woman's daring journey from beggar-girl, West Indian colonist and salonniere to royal mistress and thence, in secret, to the compromised position of Louis' uncrowned Queen. Through the rags-to-riches tale of the marquise de Maintenon, Veronica Buckley reveals every layer of the vibrant and shocking world that was France in the age of Louis XIV.
UK Release Date: May 4, 2009
Mary Tudor was the first woman to be crowned queen of England. Her accession, in the summer of 1553, took place against the odds and it was, in many ways, emblematic of her life. Anna Whitelock's assured, impassioned and absorbing debut tells the remarkable story of a woman who was a princess one minute, feted by the courts of Europe, and a disinherited bastard the next. It tells of her Spanish heritage, the unbreakable bond between Mary and her mother (Katherine of Aragon), her childhood, her adolescence, her rivalry with her sister Elizabeth, and finally her womanhood. It explores the formative experiences that made Mary the determined and single-minded queen she became. She had fought to survive, fought to preserve her integrity and her right to hear the Catholic mass, and finally she fought for the throne. As queen of England, Mary retained her tenacity. She married Philip of Spain against much opposition and struggled passionately to restore Catholicism, the religion to which she had remained true all her life. Yet whilst she was brave as a queen, as a woman she was dependent and prone to anxiety. In an age when marriages were made for political and diplomatic advantage, Mary married a man she truly loved but whom did not share her passion. It is this tension between Mary's dominance as queen and her tragedy as a woman that is crucial to understanding her reign. Her private traumas of phantom pregnancies, debilitating illnesses and unrequited love were played out in the public glare of the fickle Tudor court. The Mary that emerges is not the weak-willed failure of traditional narratives, but a complex figure of immense courage, determination and humanity. Anna Whitelock's biography is an assured, impassioned and absorbing debut.
UK Release Date: March 5, 2009
In 1664, the musketeer D'Artagnan rode beside a heavily-armoured carriage as it rumbled slowly southwards from Paris, carrying his great friend Nicolas Foucquet to internal exile and life imprisonment in the fortress of Pignerol. There he would be incarcerated in a cell next door to the Man with the Iron Mask. From a glittering zenith as the King's first minister, builder of the breathtaking chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte, collector of books, patron of the arts and lover of beautiful women, Foucquet had fallen like Icarus. Charged with embezzlement, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Charles Drazin's riveting account brings to life the rich, hazardous and machiavellian world in which Foucquet lived. His charm, cunning and charisma enchanted and beguiled those around him, but in them lay the seeds of his destruction.
UK Release Date: March 5, 2009
This is the first major biography for a generation of a truly formidable king – a man born to rule England, who believed that it was his right to rule all of Britain. His reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale, and leaving a legacy of division between the peoples of Britain that has lasted from his day to our own.
Edward I is familiar to millions as ‘Longshanks’, conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (‘Braveheart’). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king’s astonishingly action-packed life. Earlier Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled across Europe to the Holy Land on crusade; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers, and constructing – at Conwy, Harlech, Beaumaris and Caernarfon – the most magnificent chain of castles ever created. He raised the greatest armies of the English Middle Ages, and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom. The longest-lived of all England’s medieval kings, he fathered no fewer than fifteen children with his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, and after her death he erected the Eleanor Crosses – the grandest funeral monuments ever fashioned for an English monarch.
In this book, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England’s destiny – a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward’s opponents (including Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and Robert Bruce) to resist him, and the very different societies that then existed in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The result is a sweeping story, immaculately researched yet compellingly told, and a vivid picture of medieval Britain at the moment when its future was decided.