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She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth Hardcover – February 22, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 359 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

From England�s durably popular dynastic history emerges this quartet of finely characterized portraits of would-be or actual female monarchs prior to those of the House of Tudor. Displaying precise perceptions of political contexts, often expressing herself in archly sardonic turns of phrase, Castor presents Matilda, daughter of Henry I and mother of Henry II; the latter king�s celebrated consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine; Isabella, who overthrew her hapless husband, Edward II; and Margaret of Anjou, a redoubtable contender in the War of the Roses who was vilified by a Tudor propagandist named Shakespeare. Interpreting hostility in historical sources about these women, Castor shows how they confronted their central problem in playing the power game, asserting a notional right of female succession to the crown against an array of prejudices against so preposterous an idea. Banned from leading armies into battle, each of them exhibited political acuity in inspiring support for her bid from magnates who could fight for her cause. The subsequent turns of fortune will fasten royalty readers to Castor�s lively narrative. --Gilbert Taylor


“Helen Castor’s very readable She-Wolves is . . . full of beautiful, imperiled ladies; fearless knights; and remarkable, often unbelievable turns of fortune. . . . Castor is a fine scholar and an equally fine storyteller.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“[Helen Castor is] an accomplished and elegant historian.” (Miranda Seymour, New York Times Book Review)

“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.” (Simon Sebag Montefiore, Daily Telegraph (London))

“A fascinating biography of four powerful English queens…An insightful look at issues still relevant today, related by an accomplished historian and storyteller.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Castor’s deep research will please European, military, and women’s historians, while [her] tight storytelling makes this unusually fine royal history enjoyable reading for casual readers.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Beautifully narrated . . . learned and exciting. This is medieval history at its best.” (Evening Standard)

“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.” (Jenny Uglow, Financial Times)

“Exceptional, even inspirational reading.” (BookPage)

“Castor has done a masterful job of outlining the burdens these women faced. . . . Readers of popular history of British royals will enjoy their immensely human stories.” (Library Journal)

“A fascinating biography…An insightful look at issues still relevant today, related by an accomplished historian and storyteller.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.58 pounds
  • Hardcover : 496 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0061430765
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0061430763
  • Publisher : Harper; 1St Edition (February 22, 2011)
  • Product Dimensions : 6 x 1.49 x 9 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 359 ratings