Lady of the English

Lady of the English

by Elizabeth Chadwick


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From USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Chadwick comes a gripping, never-before-told, medieval battle of the sexes

Matilda, daughter of Henry I, knows that there are those who will not accept her as England's queen when her father dies. But the men who support her rival, and cousin, Stephen do not know the iron will that drives her. She will win her inheritance against all odds, and despite all men.

Adeliza, Henry's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother, is now married to William D'Albini, a warrior who is fighting to keep Matilda off the throne. But Adeliza, born with a strength that can sustain her through heartrending pain, knows that the crown belongs to a woman this time.

Both women will stand and fight for what they know is right. But for Matilda, pride comes before a fall. And for Adeliza, even the deepest love is no proof against fate.

Written with vivid detail and great historical accuracy, Lady of the English is a captivating historical novel of Medieval England. Fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, Sharon Kay Penman, and Bernard Cornwall will be spellbound by this well-crafted story of Henry I's daughter, his widow, and their alliance and perseverance as they fight for the rightful heir to the crown—a woman!

What reviewers are saying about Lady of the English
"Lady of the English is a riveting historical fiction novel with thrilling drama and characters that fairly leap off of the page."—Laura's Reviews
"A detailed and very readable medieval era novel full of political intrigue and fascinating depictions of the people surrounding the throne of England."—
"The story is vividly described with a depth of historical detail that is rarely matched by other novelists in the genre."—Historical Novel Review Blog

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402250927
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 09/01/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 1,143,157
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Chadwick is the author of 17 historical novels, including The Greatest Knight, The Scarlet Lion, A Place Beyond Courage, For the King's Favor, Shadows and Strongholds, The Winter Mantle, The Falcons of Montabard, and To Defy a King, six of which have been shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Awards.

Read an Excerpt

As the servants removed the last of her baggage, she paced slowly around the chamber, studying the pale walls stripped of their bright hangings, the bare benches around the hearth, the dying fire. Soon there would be nothing left to say she had ever dwelt here.

"It is difficult to bid farewell, domina," Drogo said with sympathy.

Still looking around, as if her gaze were caught in a web of invisible threads, Matilda paused at the door. She remembered being eight years old, standing in the great hall at Liège, trembling with exhaustion at the end of her long journey from England. She could still recall the fear she had felt and all the pressure of being sent out of the nest to a foreign land and a betrothal with a grown man. The match had been arranged to suit her father's political purpose and she had known she must do her duty and not incur his displeasure by failing him, because he was a great king and she was a princess of high and royal blood. It could have been a disaster but, instead, it had been the making of her: the frightened, studious little girl had been moulded into a regal woman and an able consort for the Emperor of Germany.

"I have been happy here." She touched the carved doorpost in a gesture that clung and bade farewell at the same time. "Your lord father will be pleased to have you home."

Matilda dropped her hand and straightened her cloak. "I do not need to be cajoled like a skittish horse."

"That was not my intent, domina."

"Then what was your intent?" Drogo had been with her since that first long journey to her betrothal. He was her bodyguard and leader of her household knights: strong, dour, dependable. As a child she had thought him ancient because even then his hair had been white, although he had only been thirty years old. He looked little different now, except for a few new lines and the deepening of older ones.

"To say that an open door awaits you."

"And that I should close this one?"

"No, domina, it has made you who and what you are-and that is also why your father has summoned you."

"It is but one of his reasons and driven by necessity," she replied shortly. "I may not have seen my father in many years, but I know him well." Taking a resolute breath, she left the room, carrying herself as if she were bearing the weight and grace of her crown.

Her entourage awaited her in a semi-circle of servants, retainers, and officials. Most of her baggage had gone ahead by cart three days earlier and only the nucleus of her household remained with a handful of packhorses to carry light provisions and the items she wanted to keep with her. Her chaplain, Burchard, kept looking furtively at the gelding laden with the items from the portable chapel. Matilda followed his glance, her gaze resting but not lingering upon a certain leather casket in one of the panniers, before she turned to her mare. The salmon-red saddle was a sumptuous affair, padded and brocaded almost like her hearth chair, with a support for her spine and a rest for her feet. While not the swiftest way to travel, it was dignified and magnificent. The towns and villages through which they passed would expect nothing less than splendour from the emperor's recent widow.

Matilda mounted up, settling herself and positioning her feet precisely on the platform. Seated sideways, looking both forward and back. It was appropriate. She raised her slender right hand to Drogo, who acknowledged the signal with a salute and trotted to the head of the troop. The banners unfurled, gold and red and black, the heralds cantered out, and the cavalcade began to unwind along the road like jewels knotted on a string. The dowager empress of Germany was leaving the home of her heart to return to the home of her birth and a new set of duties.

Adeliza gripped the bedclothes and stifled a gasp as Henry withdrew from her body. He was approaching sixty years old, but still hale and vigorous. The force of his thrusts had made her sore inside, and his stolid weight was crushing her into the bed. Mercifully, he gathered himself and flopped over on to his back, panting hard. Biting her lip, Adeliza placed her hand on her flat belly and strove to regain her own breath. Henry was well endowed, and the act of procreation was often awkward and uncomfortable between them but, God willing, this time she would conceive.

She had been Henry's wife and the consecrated queen of England for over four years, and still each month her flux came at the appointed time in a red cramp of disappointment and failure. Thus far no amount of prayers, gifts, penances, or potions had rectified her barrenness. Henry had a score of bastards by various mistresses, so he was potent with other women, but only had one living legitimate child, his daughter Matilda from his first marriage. His son from that union had died shortly before Henry took Adeliza to wife. He seldom spoke of the tragedy that had robbed him of his heir, drowned in a shipwreck on a bitter November night, but it had driven his policies ever since. Her part in those policies was to bear him a new male heir, but thus far she had failed in her duty. Henry kissed her shoulder and squeezed her breast before parting the curtains and leaving the bed. She watched him scratch the curly silver hair on his broad chest. His stocky frame carried a slight paunch, but he was muscular and in proportion.

Stretching, he made a sound like a contented lion. Their union, she thought, even if it brought forth no other fruit, had released his tension. His sexual appetite was prodigious and in between bedding her, he regularly sported with other women.

He poured himself wine from the flagon set on a painted coffer under the window, and on his return picked up his cloak and swept it around his shoulders. Silver and blue squirrel furs gleamed in the candlelight. Adeliza sat up and folded her hands around her knees. The soreness between her thighs diminished to a dull throb. He offered her a drink from the cup and she took a dainty sip. "Matilda will be arriving soon," he said. "Brian FitzCount is due to meet her tomorrow on the road."

Adeliza could tell from his expression that his thoughts had turned inwards to the weaving of his political web. "All is ready for her," she replied. "The servants are keeping a good fire in her chamber to make it warm and chase out the damp. I have instructed them to burn incense and put out bowls of rose petals to sweeten the air. They hung new tapestries on the walls this afternoon and the furniture is all assembled. I..."

Henry raised his hand to silence her. "I am sure her chamber will be perfect."

Adeliza flushed and looked down.

"I think you will be good company for each other, being of a similar age." Henry gave her a slightly condescending smile.

"It will be strange to call her daughter when she is older than me."

"I am sure you will both quickly grow accustomed." He was still smiling, but Adeliza could tell his attention lay elsewhere. Henry's conversations were never just idle gossip; there was always a purpose. "I want you to cultivate her. She has been a long time absent, and I need to consider her future. Some matters are rightly for the council chamber and for father and daughter, but some things are better discussed between women." He stroked the side of her face with a powerful, stubby hand. "You have a skill with people; they open themselves to you."

Adeliza frowned. "You want me to draw confidences from her?"

"I would know her mind. I have seen her once in fifteen years, and then but for a few days. Her letters give me news, but they are couched in the language of scribes and I would know her true character." A hard glint entered his eyes. "I would know if she is strong enough."

"Strong enough for what?"

"For what I have in mind for her."

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Lady of the English 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Two women desire to be the Queen of 12th Century England. One, Adeliza, wife of Henry I, sees her role as an actual Queen to be that of peacemaker in a realm where loyalties are based on ambition and the acquisition of power through land and riches. Such loyalties are bound to fluctuate as the tides of power fluctuate over the years. Another woman, Matilda, the daughter of Henry I, has been promised she will be Queen upon the King's passing. Henry believes he has guaranteed this in having his counselors and liege lords pledge their loyalty on bended knee to Matilda. This is Matilda's story, a journey of yearning and suffering as Stephen of Blois usurps the throne after Henry's death. Matilda is married to Geoffrey of Anjou, a brutal man who almost destroys his wife. Scathingly sarcastic, Geoffrey, however, is a superb military strategist and supports Matilda's quest for the crown only because he believes it will benefit his own dreams of power. The plot is not as simple as described so far. There are moments of temporary victory, moments of intense sorrow, and ultimately moments when the realization strikes that the timing is all wrong for Matilda's ascension to Queen of England. Thus a brutal civil war begins that tears apart a country undeserving of the shifting spheres of loyalty and success that follow. Adeliza, believing Matilda should rightly fulfill her queenly destiny, and the men who surround Matilda are complex characters as portrayed in this engaging novel. Matilda is remarkably unable to truly control her strategy and even disregards the advise of those more knowledgeable about how to win over the lords who begin to see Stephen's weaknesses. Adeliza risks much in her loyalty to Matilda, shown in some heartrending scenes that remain potent long after they are read. Indeed, Adeliza is frequently the more sympathetic character than Matilda, a tough woman who hides her heart because she fears it may be deemed weakness. The Lady of the English is an interesting story about this little-known slice of history and the woman who spent so much of her life in truth preparing another and those around her for the role of ruling the formidable Kingdom of England. Fascinating Middle Ages historical fiction!
AAR More than 1 year ago
LADY OF THE ENGLISH by Elizabeth Chadwick is an interesting Medieval fiction set in 1125 Germany,Normany amd 1126 London. It is written with depth and details.The characters are interesting,engaging,and enchanting.This is the story of two women,one of which is a Queen and the other an Empress and the Crown that defines them both. This is the story of Matilda,the daugther of Henry I,and Adeliza,Henry I's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother. Their struggles to survive,their heartrending pain,the men who supports them,the men who is against them,and the struggle for a crown that defines them both and their loved ones. It is about kings,daughters, widows,fathers, daugthers,history,and the succession of a kingdom.This is a tragic story that is both heartrending and heartbreaking with a cast of characters that have both depth and focus.She has weaved a strong plotline,characters and historical accuracy.This is a captivating story of Henry I's court and his kingdom. A must read for any Medieval,historical readers. This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher.Details can be found at Sourcebooks Landmark,an imprint of Sourcebooks,Inc.and My Book Addiction Reviews.
KrazyGramma More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully written. I love this author. She gives full and vibrant descriptions and you don't even realize you've read an adjective. This book fills in the lineage of King Henry II and makes the era come alive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maud has always been one of my favorite personages since i was 16 and given ellen jones's fictional "the fatal crown". I have been hooked on maud ever since. There are several other books out there that use her story as a backdrop, most recently "the pillars of the earth "highlighted her struggle against stephen. I loved how the animosity flowed out on the pages between maud & geoffrey!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I realize the book was to give more insight to the two Queens, focusing on Maltida and second, her father's second Queen, Adeliza. But being a stickler for detail, I just felt so much detail was left out on what went on during Matida's campaign while she was in England - an important factor was exactly how King Stephen was captured during the one battle and more of her brother, Robert's, involvement and what an excellent battle commander he was and more detail on how much Matida depended on him. I do recommend reading this book, however it would be helpful to also read Sharon Kay Penman's "When Christ and His Saint's Slept" (first in the Eleanor of Aquataine trilogy), which fills in all of the historical gaps (and Penman is on target w/all of the facts), starting with the sinking of the White Ship. As I said, I enjoyed the book, but much speculation on the fiction part, and more historical details would have helped explain Maltida's plight and how the tide did turn against Stephen.
penname96 More than 1 year ago
Another Great Chadwick book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Chadwicks books are always a great read. They flow so well and yes at times can be a little long but well worth reading. I wish this book had come out on Nook when it did in stores but thats the publisher not BN. Read her books if you like this time period you won't be sorry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book kept me intrigued, love midievel history
bldens More than 1 year ago
You will feel the better for having read this book. It has the historical facts to put aside the "romance novel" and yet emotion threads through the fabric of the characters. The historical figures were strong in the Middle Ages as they are in this book. While the start lacks the thrill of the typical novel, the reader who is curious will enjoy the story immensely. Possibly a preference for the female reader, it is revealing about male psychological traits too. No regrets about finishing this - and there are numerous nest-sellers that I do discard before the final page!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plot spoilers should be banned, fined, and their posts deleted. They ruin books for other readers. Have you ever considered we would like to read the book for ourselves and not have you read it for us and condense it for us? Stop with the plot reveals. It is rude.
BrokenTeepee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In her latest novel Elizabeth Chadwick tells the tale of two strong women who were both known to history as Lady of the English; Queen Adeliza, Henry I's widow and his daughter, Matilda. While Matilda was never crowned Queen of England she was Henry's choice to rule after his death - his only legitimate heir after his son had been killed in the famous "White Ship" shipwreck. Henry had his barons swear that they would honor Matilda's right to the throne but it was not a time when men thought women could do anything other than produce babies. God forbid they could actually THINK.After the death of Matilda's husband, the Emperor of Germany she is recalled to England where she meets her new stepmother. Adeliza is younger than she but they form a strong bond. As part of Henry's grand dynastic plans Matilda at around 26 is sent to marry Geoffrey of Anjou a 14 year old Count. She is less than thrilled. The marriage is less than harmonious but it does produce three sons including the future Henry II of England.Like most of Ms. Chadwick's works there is a real feeling of time and place when you get involved in the story line. The small details draw you into the story and you feel like you are living it rather than reading it. With this tale it is split between the two women and it covers such a huge block of time and wars on two continents there is a bit of a break from chapter to chapter as time flies by. If I didn't remember to look at the chapter heading to see how where I was in time I was a bit lost at first. Now I did have an Advance Copy so some changes might have been made. This is a very minor complaint within the scope of a very enthralling tale.The personalities of both Adeliza and Matilda come through and their characters are well developed. I know from reading other books set in this time period that I would not want to cross Matilda. This is the first I have read anything about Adeliza. It was refreshing to see this period in history through different eyes. It is usually just Stephen and Matilda. And in my opinion neither Stephen nor Matilda were very good for England - except for the fact that Matilda gave the country Henry II and the rest of the Plantagenets although that would lead to its own set of problems later now wouldn't it?Political battles aside this was a fascinating book with different insights to a difficult time in England's history. It does keep the focus mostly on Matilda and not on what the country was suffering. But she was an arrogant, over proud woman so perhaps that is how it should be.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lady of the English tells the story of Empress Matilda, daughter of Henry I. Although Henry made his barons promise to uphold Matilda¿s claim to the English throne, his barons aren¿t ready for a female ruler. The novel follows Matilda¿s struggle to uphold her claim, pitting her against her father¿s cousin, Stephen. The story is told alternately between Matilda¿s point of view and that of her stepmother, Adeliza, from 1125 to 1149. With the civil war between Matilda and Stephen, I always got the impression that Stephen was the kind of guy you¿d invite over for dinner, and Matilda was more ice queen. It¿s true that Matilda has been portrayed in historical chronicles as somewhat of a virago, so I was interested to see how Elizabeth Chadwick would vindicate her. I liked how she handled her character; Matilda is headstrong and doesn¿t suffer fools gladly, although she was unable to take advice from those around her. In her author¿s note at the end of the book, Chadwick poses an interesting theory that Matilda suffered from strong pre-menstrual tension, which might have accounted for some of her shark behavior. Matilda never became a crowned queen herself, but she was the mother of a future King, Henry II, who appears as a young boy in this novel. On the other hand, there is Adeliza, the widow of Henry I and Matilda¿s stepmother. When Henry dies, Adeliza retires to a nunnery; but she quickly forms an attachment to Willaim d¿Albini, a character who¿s a William-Mash type. Adeliza, however, is a weaker character than Matilda is, and I was less interested in her story. But I love how Elizabeth Chadwick manages to interweave historical details into her fiction. I always know I¿m going to get a well-researched, entertaining story, as I did with this novel.
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Whenever I pick up a Chadwick novel, I know I'm in for something incredible. Virtually without peer, Chadwick has one of the most exquisite voices in modern medieval fiction. Every novel of hers I've read has always delivered for me, and been consistent in style, research and characters. And with every novel, Chadwick continues to amaze, entertain and educate. Her latest volume, Lady of the English, is no exception.Lady of the English takes readers far back into England's history, when the country went through some of the most serious upheaval throughout its history. The story follows the lives of two women: Matilda, the daughter of Henry I and Adeliza, Henry I's young second wife and stepmother to Matilda, though the two are of an age. With the political tides always turning, the succession is thrown into question when Henry I dies without a clear male heir. Politics and ambition run wild, and the country is thrown into turmoil. Matilda, though a woman, is put forth as a likely heir, but must flee the country due to the many others who would take the throne -including Adeliza's new husband. Thrown into a world of uncertainty, Matilda, who never expected to be queen, must rally to take the throne that is hers by right.As with every Chadwick novel, Lady of the English offers a unique and compelling portrait of a little-known woman from history who used her intelligence and cunning wit to move farther than what I woman could expect at that time. But, for the first time, Chadwick throws another element to the story with the entwined tale of Adeliza, another woman who never expected to be such a pivotal figure in British politics. Together, the lives of these two women paint a vivid portrait of British history in an uncertain period filled with war, betrayal and deceit.A dense and lush tale, Lady of the English is another excellent offering from Chadwick that is sure to please her fans, and welcome others to her fascinating world of medieval Europe. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction -especially the history part.
goth_marionette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book focuses on two Queens, each strong in their own way. The characters are vibrant, deep and engaging. The reader follows along as each woman loses their husband and get another, raise families and and work to create a world as they feel it should be. These two women are very different in personality and priorities yet have a strong bond over the years. I would highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where there was trouble pitching the queen's tent, but it got sorted out eventually.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can imagine I'm in the room with these people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful look at life in another time period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down, just to let you know.
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