She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth

She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth

by Helen Castor


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She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor

“Helen Castor has an exhilarating narrative gift. . . . Readers will love this book, finding it wholly absorbing and rewarding.” —Hilary Mantel, Booker Prize-winning author of Wolf Hall 

In the tradition of Antonia Fraser, David Starkey, and Alison Weir, prize-winning historian Helen Castor delivers a compelling, eye-opening examination of women and power in England, witnessed through the lives of six women who exercised power against all odds—and one who never got the chance. Exploring the narratives of the Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Margaret of Anjou, and other “she-wolves,” as well as that of the Nine Days' Queen, Lady Jane Grey, Castor invokes a magisterial discussion of how much—and how little—has changed through the centuries. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061430770
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/31/2012
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 142,373
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Helen Castor is a historian of medieval England and a Bye-Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Her first book, Blood and Roses, was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the English Association’s Beatrice White Prize. Her second book, She-Wolves, was selected as one of the books of the year by The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Independent, Financial Times, and BBC History Magazine. She lives in London.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi

Preface xiii

Part I Beginnings

1 July 6, 1553: The King Is Dead 5

2 Long Live the Queen? 25

Part II Matilda: Lady of England

3 This Land Grew Dark 39

4 Mathilda Imperatrix 51

5 Lady of England 73

6 Greatest in Her Offspring 100

Part III Eleanor: an Incomparable Woman

7 An Incomparable Woman 133

8 The War Without Love 164

9 By the Wrath of God, Queen of England 184

10 Surpassing Almost All the Queens of This World 194

Part IV Isabella: Iron Lady

11 One Man So Loved Another 231

12 Dearest and Most Powerful 256

13 "Someone Has Come Between My Husband and Myself" 283

14 Iron Lady 303

Part V Margaret: A Great and Strong Laboured Woman

15 Our Lady Sovereign 329

16 A Great and Strong Laboured Woman 347

17 Might and Power 362

18 The Queen Sustains Us 388

Part VI New Beginnings

19 July 6, 1553: Long Live the Queen 415

20 Not of Ladies' Capacity 430

21 A Queen and by the Same Title a King Also 451

Note on Sources and Further Reading 461

Index 469

What People are Saying About This

Simon Sebag Montefiore

“A gripping book . . . She-Wolves is a superb history of the powerful women who have surrounded England’s throne, combining blood-drenched drama, politics, sex and swordplay with scholarly analysis, symptahy for the plight of women and elegant writing.”

Miranda Seymour

“[Helen Castor is] an accomplished and elegant historian.”

Jenny Uglow

“Castor skillfully combines this analysis with driving narratives, using vivd details from contemporary chronicles to bring those distant days alive. She-Wolves makes one gasp at the brutality of medieval power struggles—and at the strength and vitality of the women who sought to wield royal power.”

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She-Wolves 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
ZQuilts More than 1 year ago
I had eagerly awaited the release of this book and waited until I could take my time and read it slowly- taking notes if I wished. I wasn't disappointed! The book begins with a genealogy of the Tudor Succession and as Edward VI is dying. The book is an utterly fascinating, eminently readable, treatise about the tradition of female rulers prior to the time of Elizabeth I. Included are: Matilda: Lady of England 1102-1167 Eleanor: An Incomparable Woman 1124-1204 (long lived indeed!) Isabella: Iron Lady 1295-1358 Margaret: A Great and Strong Laboured Woman 1430-1482 and, as the books returns to the time of the Tudors and the death of Edward VI, in "New Beginnings" Mary and her disastrous marriage with Philip of Spain. The book ends as Elizabeth I is handed the reins of of government and becomes both the King and Queen of her kingdom. Each section is preceded by a both a genealogy as well as a map of the Kingdom as it existed at that point in history. Very helpful while you are reading about the constantly changing boundaries of the various countries. The genealogies really made me realize how small the pool of available spouses for royal marriages really was at the time. Papal dispensations for consanguinity matters must have been a steady source of revenue for the Church! Ms. Castor has an uncanny ability to write non-fiction that reads as enjoyably as fiction. I was sorry when the book ended - wanting more of this truly riveting history. The struggle of female rulers really was the the beginning of the fight for women's rights and the fact that these amazing, talented, strong women managed to rule as they did is a wonder. I wonder how many modern women would have the tenacity and determination to breach the boundaries of proper 'etiquette' as these female rulers did. It boggles my mind at how strong and focused they must have been. No doubt they would be the sort of successful women who would, to this day, be called She Wolves, baracuddas, or another word that begins with the letter b----. I wished that the book had more illustrations - but then I always wish that. I always want more images to pair with the words in a book. The included 8 pages of color images are well done - but more would have been better (of course!) This book will, I think, hold wide appeal to history buffs - especially those who are Anglophiles as I am, as well as for people who study women's rights and societal issues. I will be on the pre-order list as soon as I hear about Helen Castor's next book !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very detailed to the extent that one can not skim through the pages lest an important but far-reaching fact be missed. Top marks for clarity among the historical blizzards of places, people, prevailing politics, and bloodlines. Reading this made me happy I live on Earth now, not then, and that I am not in a royal court in any capacity no matter how small. Not even as a mouse.
luv2be More than 1 year ago
Its awesome to read and visualize women, who had it harder then present day women, look at the face of adversity. To fight in what they believed in, something we should all do. Wish there were mire boiks like this.
Marla_Warren More than 1 year ago
In She-Wolves, Helen Castor does not merely explore the lives of four powerful women-Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, and Margaret of Anjou-she examines their experiences and challenges in the context of how feminine authority evolved in England. She also examines the succession crisis after Edward the Sixth died, and how Lady Jane Grey and Mary I each took steps to establish and maintain their autonomy as monarchs. The section on Matilda is especially enlightening, challenging the myths about Matilda's lack of people skills.
deweybeachgirl9701 More than 1 year ago
Helen Castor is able to draw you in to an era where women were regarded to be only responsible for producing a heir. Here are 4 women that went beyond the traditional role of "queen" and did what they can to better their country. I would not recommend this book to anyone that didn't have an interest in history (or had the tendency of falling asleep in class). There is a lot of names, dates and plots for each of the eras in English history and one may not be able to get beyond those facts to see the bigger picture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book because it dealt with powerful women that we don't often hear about unless we've been knocking around in the histories before Elizabeth I for some time. It's a careful history, and I respect it because (among other things) Castor doesn't bring a post-modern "Feminist" approach to a topic that doesn't warrant it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Link and Lakita                                                                                                                                                                                                       Link: I-I don't know! I tried to wake her up!((gtgtb))
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recomended to anyone interedtef in the process that brought female rule to England in a male dominated world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting and readable
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WhosTardis More than 1 year ago
Middle Age history was my passion about 10 years ago. This book brought me back into a time I thought I was rather familiar with; putting a new perspective on some great women. Some I already knew well and some I knew only by name. It made the history new again. And that's not easy to do!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very informative on topics that have generally just been glossed over as greater coverage was devoted to later periods of European history. Worth your time reading, especially from a woman's standpoint.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this history of the female monarchs of England very much.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love Tudor history, you'll love this!!!
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