'It is Arbella they would proclaim Queen if her mistress should happen to die' Sir William Stanley, 1592Niece to Mary, Queen of Scots, granddaughter to the great Tudor dynast Bess of Hardwick, Lady Arbella Stuart was brought up in the belief that she would inherit Elizabeth I's throne. Her very conception was dramatic: the result of an unsanctioned alliance that brought down the wrath of the authorities. Raised in restricted isolation at Hardwick, in the care - the 'custody' - of the forceful Bess, Arbella was twenty-seven before, in 1603, she made her own flamboyant bid for liberty. She may also have been making a bid for the throne. If so, she failed. But the accession of her cousin James thrust her into the colourful world of his court, and briefly gave her the independence she craved at the heart of Jacobean society.Then, aged thirty-five, Arbella risked everything to make her own forbidden marriage. An escape in disguise, a wild flight...
To contemporaries, the Wars of the Roses were known collectively as a “cousins’ war.” The series of dynastic conflicts that tore apart the ruling Plantagenet family in fifteenth-century England was truly a domestic drama, as fraught and intimate as any family feud before or since. As acclaimed historian Sarah Gristwood reveals in Blood Sisters, while the events of this turbulent time are usually described in terms of the male leads who fought and died seeking the throne, a handful of powerful women would prove just as decisive as their kinfolks’ clashing armies. These mothers, wives, and daughters were locked in a web of loyalty and betrayal that would ultimately change the course of English history. In a captivating, multigenerational narrative, Gristwood traces the rise and rule of the seven most critical women in the wars: from Marguerite of Anjou, wife of the Lancastrian Henry VI, who steered the kingdom in her insane husband’s stead; to Cecily Neville, matriarch of the rival Yorkist clan, whose son Edward IV murdered his own brother to maintain power; to Margaret Beaufort, who gave up her own claim to the throne in favor of her son, a man who would become the first of a new line of Tudor kings.A richly drawn, absorbing epic, Blood Sisters is a tale of hopeful births alongside bloody deaths, of romance as well as brutal pragmatism. It is a story of how women, and the power that women could wield, helped to end the Wars of the Roses, paving the way for the Tudor age—and the creation of modern England.ReviewThe New Yorker“The Wars of the Roses are often remembered for the men who seized thrones and led battles, but in this lively history the women take the reins. Arguing persuasively for the existence of a ‘female network,’… Gristwood details the paths of seven royal women who transcended their roles as diplomatic pawns and heir producers.”Alison Weir, *BBC History Magazine“Once again, Sarah Gristwood proves that she is at the top of her field with Blood Sisters*…. In this gem of a book, she effortlessly interweaves the dramatic, often tragic, lives of seven royal women…. In telling their stories in this original way, and focusing on their diverse roles in the conflict between Lancaster and York, Gristwood reveals how they influenced a male-dominated world. Her text is further enlivened by incisive analysis, exquisite detail and an elegant and witty style…. It’s the book that I wish I had written.”The Spectator (London)“Sarah Gristwood’s sensitive approach marks out Blood Sisters as much more than the narrative of an age…. It is an exploration of what it meant to be a medieval queen…. In describing what these noble women had in common, Gristwood is able to paint a compelling portrait of this bloody age, complete with the heartbreak and triumphs that went with it….. Medieval queens were far from being mere pawns in the game of thrones.”Sunday Times (London)“Most of the leading players in the Wars of the Roses have traditionally been thought to be the men. Historian Sarah Gristwood… stands this on its head. She examines seven women, whose lives were bound together across the best part of a century, and tries to see the wars from their points of view…. Gristwood successfully evokes the lives of all these women, and in doing so brings a new and welcome perspective on the Wars of the Roses.”Maclean's“While most historians focus on the men of the Plantagenet dynasty who tore their families and nation apart during the Wars of the Roses, Gristwood weaves a dizzying array of Yorkists and Lancastrians into an engaging and coherent history by focusing on seven women...who played crucial roles in the bloody feuds known as the ‘cousins’ war.’”Toronto Star“[Gristwood’s] is a revolutionary approach. For too long, history has been the purview of men, of kings and their battles, wars, conquests, murders and thirst for power.... Gristwood’s perspective and lively writing are refreshing.... Certainly there have been individual biographies of each of these seven powerful women but by tracing the connections among them, Gristwood digs into motives and aspirations of royals too long overlooked.... Through them, she gives us an unconventional history of the wars between relations, arguing that their actions mattered as much as battles, and certainly played a significant role in ending the war and establishing the peace.”Literary Review“Entertaining and vividly drawn…. This is the true story of the most important women of the period, their travails and suffering; but also of the links between them, their friendships and ambitions, their cooperation, their courage and pragmatism. It is a different way of looking at this complex period, and Gristwood weaves the story with considerable skill. The battles and bloodshed that led to the loss of so many of the old nobility of England form a backdrop to the narrative, but the real emphasis is on half-a-dozen women whose extraordinary experiences of triumph and disaster, often in a bewilderingly short period of time, brought them to the edge of despair but did not, in the end, lessen their commitment to their families. They provided continuity as the world fell apart around them…. Gristwood is to be congratulated for her highly readable account of their lives”Publishers Weekly“Gristwood has written a compelling narrative of what went on behind the scenes and away from the battlefields…. [Blood Sisters] is an engaging, well written, and thoroughly-researched page turner that should delight academics as much as fans of Philippa Gregory’s historical novels about several of the same notable women.”Library Journal“[Blood Sisters] deftly navigates a period of shifting alliances in a clear, concise fashion. Highly recommended for any academic or casual reader interested in the Wars of the Roses. Fans of Alison Weir’s historical fiction and nonfiction works, as well as fans of Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction series, ‘The Cousin’s War,’ are likely to enjoy this.”Kirkus"As Gristwood amply proves in this shrewd, rewarding study, alliances and ambitions involved women as much as men…. [Gristwood] nimbly makes sense and relevance out of the confoundingly entangled dynasties of the Yorks and Tudors."Open Letters Monthly“[A] nimble, engaging new book.... [Gristwood’s] a lively enthusiastic recounter of the violent turnovers of the age.”Decatur Daily“[Blood Sisters] brings new perspective to a history largely dominated by males.... Gristwood leads the reader though the intricacies of political managing and palace intrigue, where enemies and friends changed sides, often without notice, and frequently to the detriment of their former allies.”About the AuthorBiographer and journalist Sarah Gristwood attended Oxford University and has been a regular contributor to the London Times, Telegraph, Guardian, and Independent. She is the author of seven previous books, including the best-selling Arbella: England’s Lost Queen and Elizabeth and Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics. Gristwood lives in London and Kent.
In sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary set of women created a unique culture of feminine power that saw them run the continent for decades. Despite often being on opposing sides of power struggles both armed and otherwise, through family ties and patronage they educated and supported each other in a brutal world where the price of failure was disgrace, exile or even death.Following the passage of power from mother to daughter and mentor to protégé, Gristwood reveals the unorthodox practices these women adopted to avoid patriarchal control and assesses the impact they had on shaping the world around them. Epic in scale, this game of queens is a remarkable spectacle of skill and ingenuity, confronting the challenges faced by women in power – many of which still hold relevant today.The players in this Game of Queens are: Isabella of Castile, Margaret of Austria, Louise of Savoy, Anne de Beaujeu, Katherine of Aragon, Marguerite of Navarre, Anne...
Though the story has been told on film—and whispered in historic gossip—this is the first book in almost fifty years to solely explore the great queen's attachment to her beloved Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. Fueled by scandal and intrigue, their relationship set the explosive connection between public and private life in sixteenth-century England in bold relief. Why did they never marry? How much of what seemed a passionate obsession was actually political convenience? Elizabeth and Leicester reignites this 400- year-old love story in a book for anyone interested in Elizabethan literature.
â??Entrancing, compelling, and beautifully writtenâ?¦This is the historical novel as literary fiction â?? and damned good literary fiction at that.â?? Alison Weir Jeanne, a young French exile orphaned by the wars of religion on the continent, is brought to London as a young girl disguised as a boy. Growing up, the disguise has not been shed and she finds a living as a clerk, ending up in the household of Robert Cecil. As she witnesses the intrigues and plots swirling round the court of Elizabeth I in the last days of Glorianaâ??s reign, she finds herself sucked into the orbit of the dashing and ambitious young favourite, the Earl of Essex. The queen draws near to the end of her life, with no heir to follow, and the stakes are high. As Essex hurtles towards self-destruction, Jeanne finds her loyalties, her disguise and her emotions under threat â?? in a political climate where the least mistake can attract dire penalties. This is a beautifully written and evocative novel, rich with...