Plantagenet Queens and Consorts: Family, Duty and Power

by Steven J Corvi

The period of Plantagenet rule lasted from 1154 with the accession of Kind Henry II through to the death of King Richard III in 1485. During this period of time, England was ruled by a variety of King’s. Some were warrior kings such as Edward III and Henry V who oversaw prosperity and great victories in France. Other kings were not well-liked such as the cruel and tyrannical King John and Richard II who was deposed by Henry Bolingbroke. Yet each King had a wife or a mother and it was these women that Corvi examines within the pages of his book.

Corvi selects ten women from the Plantagenet period to explore including, Eleanor of Provence, Isabella of France, Philippa of Hainault, Joan of Kent, Katherine Swynford, Joanna of Navarre, Katherine of Valois, Margaret of Anjou, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York. These women were either Queen Consorts, mothers to Kings such as Joan of Kent or the wives of rich and important men such as Katherine Swynford.

Each woman has a chapter dedicated to her and Corvi outlines the woman’s life, who they married, their children and the happenings in England during their lives. The author then details the political minefield that each woman had to maneuver herself within and how she used her political knowledge, her wit and skills to be able to succeed as a Queen/Wife/Mother as well as being able to achieve their own personal goals.

Although chapters are not dedicated to these women, Corvi also mentions influential women such as Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Margaret Beaufort who fought fiercely, not only for their own rights but also for the rights and the succession of their sons to the throne of England.

This is a well-written book and thoroughly researched. There are a few spelling and grammatical errors but these do not take away from the research and compelling information provided. A tree of England’s monarchs would also have been a useful reference guide but not necessary. This is a great book that provides overviews of the lives of ten fascinating and influential women from England’s history.

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