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Hardcover Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England Book

ISBN: 0345453190

ISBN13: 9780345453198

Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England

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Book Overview

Described by Christopher Marlowe as the 'She-Wolf of France', Isabella was one of the most notorious femme fatales in history. According to popular legend, her angry ghost can be glimpsed among church... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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Outstanding author

Allison Weir is an outstanding author who takes a fresh look at Queen Isabella. She paints a picture of a woman who takes on the debauchery and misrule of Edward II and his consorts, and saves England from tyranny. Not only does Weir provide a convincing argument that Isabella was a strong and intelligent ruler, she also shows evidence that Isabella was compassionate and spiritual. Isabella did what needed to be done in a time when women were easily pushed aside simply because of their gender. Weir's writing style is entertaining and fact filled. Few historical writers can write a "page turner" with the same style as Weir. She brings the characters to life and has the reader cheering the heros or condemning the villian along with her, only to later realize that virtually no one is immune from the pull of power and riches. This book left me with the satisfaction that Frodo Lives! Yes, I'm convinced by Weir's argument that the death of Edward II was one of politic's first great "spins". I'm looking forward to my next Allison Weir read.

She-Wolf Defanged

Alison Weir's Queen Isabella is an excellent reminder of just how much of the history we think we know is based not on facts, but rather on someone's interpretation of the facts. Relying on the same information that Paul C. Doherty uses in his 2003 book, Isabella and the Strange Death of Edward II, Weir comes to a very different conclusion about the death, possible escape, and reappearance of Edward II. There seems to be little debate among historians that Edward II died in 1327. There is some disagreement about whether he was murdered by, in the words of author Desmond Seward, "being buggered with a red-hot poker," or if he died or was murdered in some other way. Seward, Doherty, John Gillingham, even Simon Schama, all agree that Edward died, one way or another, in 1327. But I think Weir is the first to seriously entertain the notion that Edward II escaped from imprisonment at Berkeley Castle, fled eventually to Italy, and lived out his days as a religious hermit, dying in about 1341. Gillingham addresses this possibility by playing the psychologist, declaring that the idea of the luxury-loving Edward II living in monkish solitude beggars belief. One might also wonder whether an escaped deposed king wouldn't also be quite likely to attempt a coup to regain his throne. Other historians have discounted the Fieschi letter, which describes the escape of Edward II, by calling it a blackmail attempt on a gullible Edward III. Weir finds the letter credible, and she even thinks that the mysterious William le Galeys (William the Welshman), was probably Edward II himself, incognito in order to visit his son one final time. Other historians are more skeptical and consider William a fraud or pretender. You may quibble with Weir about her conclusions and interpretations, but her research is thorough. She includes every detail about Isabella that is available. Sometimes it slows down the narrative, but it makes an excellent resource for anyone studying the life of Isabella. Here in one book, a researcher can find out every journey that Isabella made, every overnight stop, her household expenses, what she wore, what she ate, what she read. It's all footnoted (with footnotes in the back, not at the foot of the page), with an extensive bibliography. And if you don't mind skimming such details, or if you find them rather fascinating, Isabella's story as Weir tells it is gripping stuff. While researching the life of Isabella, Weir found herself becoming sympathetic to the Queen, and wondered if the conventional wisdom about Isabella being the "she-wolf of France" might be exaggeration. After all, much of that reputation came from the Christopher Marlowe play about her husband, Edward II. Marlowe was a dramatist, not a historian, so maybe Isabella has been getting a bad rap all these years. As with Shakespeare's Richard III, it turns out that the real Isabella was probably not quite as storybook evil as she is remembered, but the gist of the story is true. Sh

A French Queen In Medieval England

Alison Weir is the author of numerous biographies of the ancient kings and queens of England. Although she has written three books about Henry VIII, she specializes in the lives of female royalty ("The Life of Elizabeth I"--1998, "Eleanor of Aquitaine"--2000, and "Mary, Queen of Scots"--2002). Her latest venture in British royalty is the story of Queen Isabella's reign in the 1300's. Like Eleanor of Aquitaine, she was of French royal stock and a child bride to King Edward II in an arranged marriage to cement a Franco-Anglo alliance. The documentation is sparse for that time period, unlike other eras in English history. Hence Ms. Weir is forced to make educated suppositions rather than interpret conflicting historical records (which in terms of Isabella's life was too few and too brief). Still she tells the tale of Isabella and of the less-than-noble men in her orbit in an entertaining fashion. Fans (and new readers) of Ms. Weir will enjoy this rather long biography (500+ pages) of betrayal, death and sex among the royal families of England and France.
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