UK Release Date: October 1, 2009
The story of the English marriage is unique and eccentric. Long after the rest of Europe and neighbouring Scotland had reformed their marriage laws, England clung to the chaotic and contradictory laws of the medieval Church, making it all too easy to enter into a marriage but virtually impossible to end an unhappy one.
If England was a ‘paradise for wives’ it could only have been through the feistiness of the women. Married women were placed in the same legal category as lunatics. While Englishmen prided themselves on their devotion to liberty, their wives were no freer than slaves. It was a husband’s jealously guarded right to beat his wife, as long as the stick was no bigger than his thumb. Only after 1882 could a married woman even retain her own property.
But then marriage was all about property in a society which was both mercenary and violent, where a girl was virtually sold into marriage and a price was put on a wife’s chastity.
With a cast of hundreds, from loyal and devoted wives in troubled times to those who featured in notorious trials for adultery, from abusive husbands whose excesses were only gradually curbed by the law to the modern phenomenon of the toxic wife, acclaimed historian Maureen Waller draws on intimate letters, diaries, court documents and advice books to trace the evolution of the English marriage. It is social history at its most revealing, astonishing and entertaining.
UK Release Date: September 17, 2009
The tales of the various monarchs of Britain are some of the most interesting in our history. From Henry VIII and his six wives and Edward VIII's abdication to some of our lesser known and mythical monarchs such as King Arthur, "Divorced, Beheaded, Died..." takes you on a gallop through the history of Britain's monarchs from the legendary King Brutus, through the houses of Tudor and Stuart, and up to the Windsors, including the major monarchs of Scotland and Wales. Discover the sticky end that befell Edward II, the story of the teenage queen of England who reigned for less than a fortnight, and find out whether Macbeth really was a king of Scotland. Presented in an accessible, chronological format, "Divorced, Beheaded, Died..." will fill all those gaps in your history knowledge, together with some fascinating and amusing facts that are guaranteed to entertain any history enthusiast.
US Release Date: July 27, 2009
Mary, Queen of Scots lived during one of the most fascinating periods in history. Graham’s epic work paints a unique picture of this controversial woman, showing her to be neither a Catholic martyr nor murdering adulteress but a passive young woman caught up in the ruthless sea of sixteenth-century politics who lacked the shrewdness and empowerment of her contemporaries—Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers and Elizabeth Tudor. Instead, she relied on her beauty and charm and allowed herself to be a victim of circumstance. When she did finally attempt to control her future, she set in motion the events that would lead her to the executioner’s block.