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Having proven herself a gifted and engaging novelist with her portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I in The Lady Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey in Innocent Traitor, New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir now harks back to the twelfth century with a sensuous and tempestuous tale that brings vividly to life England's most passionate--and destructive--royal couple: Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II. Nearing her thirtieth birthday, Eleanor has spent the past dozen frustrating years as consort to the pious King Louis VII of France. For all its political advantages, the marriage has brought Eleanor only increasing unhappiness--and daughters instead of the hoped-for male heir. But when the young and dynamic Henry of Anjou arrives at the French court, Eleanor sees a way out of her discontent. For even as their eyes meet for the first time, the seductive Eleanor and the virile Henry know that theirs is a passion that could ignite the world. Returning to her duchy of Aquitaine after the annulment of her marriage to Louis, Eleanor immediately sends for Henry, the future King of England, to come and marry her. The union of this royal couple will create a vast empire that stretches from the Scottish border to the Pyrenees, and marks the beginning of the celebrated Plantagenet dynasty.But Henry and Eleanor's marriage, charged with physical heat, begins a fiery downward spiral marred by power struggles, betrayals, bitter rivalries, and a devil's brood of young Plantagenets--including Richard the Lionheart and the future King John. Early on, Eleanor must endure Henry's formidable mother, the Empress Matilda, as well as his infidelities, while in later years, Henry's friendship with Thomas Becket will lead to a deadly rivalry. Eventually, as the couple's rebellious sons grow impatient for power, the scene is set for a vicious and tragic conflict that will engulf both Eleanor and Henry. Vivid in detail, epic in scope, Captive Queen is an astounding and brilliantly wrought historical novel that encompasses the building of an empire and the monumental story of a royal marriage. From the Hardcover edition.
"Fascinating . . . Alison Weir does full justice to the subject."--The Philadelphia InquirerAt his death in 1547, King Henry VIII left four heirs to the English throne: his only son, the nine-year-old Prince Edward; the Lady Mary, the adult daughter of his first wife Katherine of Aragon; the Lady Elizabeth, the teenage daughter of his second wife Anne Boleyn; and his young great-niece, the Lady Jane Grey. In this riveting account Alison Weir paints a unique portrait of these extraordinary rulers, examining their intricate relationships to each other and to history. She traces the tumult that followed Henry's death, from the brief intrigue-filled reigns of the boy king Edward VI and the fragile Lady Jane Grey, to the savagery of "Bloody Mary," and finally the accession of the politically adroit Elizabeth I.As always, Weir offers a fresh perspective on a period that has spawned many of the most enduring myths in English history, combining the best of the historian's and the biographer's art."Like anthropology, history and biography can demonstrate unfamiliar ways of feeling and being. Alison Weir's sympathetic collective biography, The Children of Henry VIII does just that, reminding us that human nature has changed--and for the better. . . . Weir imparts movement and coherence while re-creating the suspense her characters endured and the suffering they inflicted."--The New York Times Book Review From the Trade Paperback edition.
England's Tower of London was the terrifying last stop for generations of English political prisoners. A Dangerous Inheritance weaves together the lives and fates of four of its youngest and most blameless: Lady Katherine Grey, Lady Jane's younger sister; Kate Plantagenet, an English princess who lived nearly a century before her; and Edward and Richard, the boy princes imprisoned by their ruthless uncle, Richard III, never to be heard from again. Across the years, these four young royals shared the same small rooms in their dark prison, as all four shared the unfortunate role of being perceived as threats to the reigning monarch. Weaving together their lives and fates into a dark mystery of thwarted love and ruthless ambition, Alison Weir has written the most suspenseful, large-scale novel of her career.
Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons. In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of this truly exceptional woman, and provides new insights into her intimate world. Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many contrasts, of splendor and desolation, power and peril, and in this stunning narrative, Weir captures the woman-- and the queen-- in all her glory. With astonishing historic detail, mesmerizing pageantry, and irresistible accounts of royal scandal and intrigue, she recreates not only a remarkable personality but a magnificent past era.
Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry's mother and Elizabeth's grandmother, spanned one of England's most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline. Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But after the death of her father; the disappearance and probable murder of her brothers--the Princes in the Tower; and the usurpation of the throne by her calculating uncle Richard III, Elizabeth found her world turned upside-down: She and her siblings were declared bastards. As Richard's wife, Anne Neville, was dying, there were murmurs that the king sought to marry his niece Elizabeth, knowing that most people believed her to be England's rightful queen. Weir addresses Elizabeth's possible role in this and her covert support for Henry Tudor, the exiled pretender who defeated Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was crowned Henry VII, first sovereign of the House of Tudor. Elizabeth's subsequent marriage to Henry united the houses of York and Lancaster and signaled the end of the Wars of the Roses. For centuries historians have asserted that, as queen, she was kept under Henry's firm grasp, but Weir shows that Elizabeth proved to be a model consort--pious and generous--who enjoyed the confidence of her husband, exerted a tangible and beneficial influence, and was revered by her son, the future King Henry VIII. Drawing from a rich trove of historical records, Weir gives a long overdue and much-deserved look at this unforgettable princess whose line descends to today's British monarch--a woman who overcame tragedy and danger to become one of England's most beloved consorts. Praise for Alison Weir's Mary Boleyn, named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Chicago Tribune "This nuanced, smart, and assertive biography reclaims the life of a Tudor matriarch."--Publishers Weekly "Weir has achieved the enviable skill of blending the necessary forensic and analytical tasks of academia with the passionate engagement that avocational history lovers crave."--Bookreporter "Top-notch . . . This book further proves that [Weir] is a historian of the highest caliber."--Washington Independent Review of Books "A refreshing change from recent books on the subject . . . If you want to learn more about this often-maligned woman of the sixteenth century, this is a must-read."--The Free Lance-Star "Weir's research is always first-rate and her narratives accessible. In her latest book, the author has to navigate the historical minefields of gossip, fiction, and conjecture to finally get at the truth."--Tucson Citizen "Engaging . . . Weir matches her usual professional skills in research and interpretation to her customary, felicitous style."--Booklist
Henry VIII, renowned for his command of power, celebrated for his intellect, presided over the most stylish--and dangerous--court in Renaissance Europe. Scheming cardinals vied for power with newly rich landowners and merchants, brilliant painters and architects introduced a new splendor into art and design, and each of Henry's six queens brought her own influence to bear upon the life of the court. In her new book, Alison Weir, author of the finest royal chronicles of our time, brings to vibrant life the turbulent, complex figure of Henry VIII and the glittering court he made his own. In an age when a monarch's domestic and political lives were inextricably intertwined, a king as powerful and brilliant as Henry VIII exercised enormous sway over the laws, the customs, and the culture of his kingdom. Yet as Weir shows in this swift, vivid narrative, Henry's ministers, nobles, and wives were formidable figures in their own right, whose influence both enhanced and undermined the authority of the throne. On a grand stage rich in pageantry, intrigue, passion, and luxury, Weir records the many complex human dramas that swirled around Henry, while deftly weaving in an account of the intimate rituals and desires of England's ruling class--their sexual practices, feasts and sports, tastes in books and music, houses and gardens. Stimulating and tumultuous, the court of Henry VIII attracted the finest minds and greatest beauties in Renaissance England--poets Wyatt and Surrey, the great portraitist Hans Holbein, "feasting ladies" like Elizabeth Blount and Elizabeth FitzWalter, the newly rich Boleyn family and the ancient aristocratic clans like the Howards and the Percies, along with the entourages and connections that came and went with each successive wife. The interactions between these individuals, and the terrible ends that befell so many of them, make Henry VIII: The King and His Court an absolutely spellbinding read. Meticulous in historic detail, narrated with high style and grand drama, Alison Weir brilliantly brings to life the king, the court, and the fascinating men and women who vied for its pleasures and rewards. NOTE: This edition does not contain illustrations.
I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live.Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir's enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey-"the Nine Days' Queen"-a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn's beheading and the demise of Jane's infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane's adolescent cousin, and Henry's successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor. Unabashedly honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane possesses a sound strength of character beyond her years that equips her to weather the vicious storm. And though she has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies, she is forced to accept the crown, and by so doing sets off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy.Alison Weir uses her unmatched skills as a historian to enliven the many dynamic characters of this majestic drama. Along with Lady Jane Grey, Weir vividly renders her devious parents; her much-loved nanny; the benevolent Queen Katherine Parr; Jane's ambitious cousins; the Catholic "Bloody" Mary, who will stop at nothing to seize the throne; and the protestant and future queen Elizabeth. Readers venture inside royal drawing rooms and bedchambers to witness the power-grabbing that swirls around Lady Jane Grey from the day of her birth to her unbearably poignant death. Innocent Traitor paints a complete and compelling portrait of this captivating young woman, a faithful servant of God whose short reign and brief life would make her a legend."An impressive debut. Weir shows skill at plotting and maintaining tension, and she is clearly going to be a major player in the . . . historical fiction game."-The Independent"Alison Weir is one of our greatest popular historians. In her first work of fiction . . . Weir manages her heroine's voice brilliantly, respecting the past's distance while conjuring a dignified and fiercely modern spirit."-London Daily MailFrom the Hardcover edition.
Following the tremendous success of her first novel, Innocent Traitor, which recounted the riveting tale of the doomed Lady Jane Grey, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir turns her masterly storytelling skills to the early life of young Elizabeth Tudor, who would grow up to become England's most intriguing and powerful queen.Even at age two, Elizabeth is keenly aware that people in the court of her father, King Henry VIII, have stopped referring to her as "Lady Princess" and now call her "the Lady Elizabeth." Before she is three, she learns of the tragic fate that has befallen her mother, the enigmatic and seductive Anne Boleyn, and that she herself has been declared illegitimate, an injustice that will haunt her. What comes next is a succession of stepmothers, bringing with them glimpses of love, fleeting security, tempestuous conflict, and tragedy. The death of her father puts the teenage Elizabeth in greater peril, leaving her at the mercy of ambitious and unscrupulous men. Like her mother two decades earlier she is imprisoned in the Tower of London-and fears she will also meet her mother's grisly end. Power-driven politics, private scandal and public gossip, a disputed succession, and the grievous example of her sister, "Bloody" Queen Mary, all cement Elizabeth's resolve in matters of statecraft and love, and set the stage for her transformation into the iconic Virgin Queen. Alison Weir uses her deft talents as historian and novelist to exquisitely and suspensefully play out the conflicts between family, politics, religion, and conscience that came to define an age. Sweeping in scope, The Lady Elizabeth is a fascinating portrayal of a woman far ahead of her time-an orphaned girl haunted by the shadow of the axe, an independent spirit who must use her cunning and wits for her very survival, and a future queen whose dangerous and dramatic path to the throne shapes her future greatness.From the Hardcover edition.
BONUS: This edition contains a The Lady in the Tower discussion guide.Nearly five hundred years after her violent death, Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII, remains one of the world's most fascinating, controversial, and tragic heroines. Now acclaimed historian and bestselling author Alison Weir has drawn on myriad sources from the Tudor era to give us the first book that examines, in unprecedented depth, the gripping, dark, and chilling story of Anne Boleyn's final days.The tempestuous love affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn scandalized Christendom and altered forever the religious landscape of England. Anne's ascent from private gentlewoman to queen was astonishing, but equally compelling was her shockingly swift downfall. Charged with high treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London in May 1536, Anne met her terrible end all the while protesting her innocence. There remains, however, much mystery surrounding the queen's arrest and the events leading up to it: Were charges against her fabricated because she stood in the way of Henry VIII making a third marriage and siring an heir, or was she the victim of a more complex plot fueled by court politics and deadly rivalry? The Lady in the Tower examines in engrossing detail the motives and intrigues of those who helped to seal the queen's fate. Weir unravels the tragic tale of Anne's fall, from her miscarriage of the son who would have saved her to the horrors of her incarceration and that final, dramatic scene on the scaffold. What emerges is an extraordinary portrayal of a woman of great courage whose enemies were bent on utterly destroying her, and who was tested to the extreme by the terrible plight in which she found herself. Richly researched and utterly captivating, The Lady in the Tower presents the full array of evidence of Anne Boleyn's guilt--or innocence. Only in Alison Weir's capable hands can readers learn the truth about the fate of one of the most influential and important women in English history.
Weir describes herself as a social historian but admits that when chronicling the lives of the flamboyant Tudors, it's impossible to keep domestic politics and world affairs apart. One could hardly ignore the threatened depredations of the "invincible" Spanish Armada or pass over the intrigues of Mary Queen of Scots as she struggled to seize the throne and return England to Roman Catholicism. Weir has already negotiated the complex matrimonial life of Elizabeth's father in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the early lives of the resulting progeny in The Children of Henry VIII. After a lonely and often perilous childhood during which Elizabeth was once imprisoned in the Tower and was nearly executed at the behest of her half sister, Queen Mary, 25-year-old Elizabeth ascended to the throne when Mary died. The prevailing expectation was that she would speedily marry a strong man who would then take over as king: as Elizabeth herself admitted, it was commonly thought that "a woman cannot live unless she is married." Elizabeth did nothing of the kind and, as Weir details, she did quite well for herself manipulating the royal marriage mart of Europe. Weir uses myriad details of dress, correspondence and contemporary accounts to create an almost affectionate portrait of a strong, well-educated ruler loved by her courtiers and people alike. Hot-tempered, imperious Elizabeth has been the subject of innumerable biographies, many very good. But Weir brings a fine sense of selection and considerable zest to her portrait of the self-styled Virgin Queen.
Sister to Queen Anne Boleyn, she was seduced by two kings and was an intimate player in one of history's most gripping dramas. Yet much of what we know about Mary Boleyn has been fostered through garbled gossip, romantic fiction, and the misconceptions repeated by historians. Now, in her latest book, New York Times bestselling author and noted British historian Alison Weir gives us the first ever full-scale, in-depth biography of Henry VIII's famous mistress, in which Weir explodes much of the mythology that surrounds Mary Boleyn and uncovers the truth about one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age. With the same brand of extensive forensic research she brought to her acclaimed book The Lady in the Tower, Weir facilitates here a new portrayal of her subjects, revealing how Mary was treated by her ambitious family and the likely nature of the relationship between the Boleyn sisters. She also posits new evidence regarding the reputation of Mary's mother, Elizabeth Howard, who was rumored to have been an early mistress of Henry VIII. Weir unravels the truth about Mary's much-vaunted notoriety at the French court and her relations with King François I. She offers plausible theories as to what happened to Mary during the undocumented years of her life, and shows that, far from marrying an insignificant and complacent nonentity, she made a brilliant match with a young man who was the King's cousin and a rising star at court. Weir also explores Mary's own position and role at the English court, and how she became Henry VIII's mistress. She tracks the probable course of their affair and investigates Mary's real reputation. With new and compelling evidence, Weir presents the most conclusive answer to date on the paternity of Mary's children, long speculated to have been Henry VIII's progeny. Alison Weir has drawn fascinating information from the original sources of the period to piece together a life steeped in mystery and misfortune, debunking centuries-old myths and disproving accepted assertions, to give us the truth about Mary Boleyn, the so-called great and infamous whore.From the Hardcover edition.
Handsome, accomplished, and charming, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, staked his claim to the English throne by marrying Mary Stuart, who herself claimed to be the Queen of England. It was not long before Mary discovered that her new husband was interested only in securing sovereign power for himself. Then, on February 10, 1567, an explosion at his lodgings left Darnley dead; the intrigue thickened after it was discovered that he had apparently been suffocated before the blast. After an exhaustive reevaluation of the source material, Alison Weir has come up with a solution to this enduring mystery. Employing her gift for vivid characterization and gripping storytelling, Weir has written one of her most engaging excursions yet into Britain's bloodstained, power-obsessed past.From the Trade Paperback edition.
BONUS: This edition contains a reader's guide and an excerpt from Allison Weir's The Lady in the Tower.Acclaimed author Alison Weir brings to life the extraordinary tale of Katherine Swynford, a royal mistress who became one of the most crucial figures in the history of Great Britain. Born in the mid-fourteenth century, Katherine de Roët was only twelve when she married Hugh Swynford, an impoverished knight. But her story had truly begun two years earlier, when she was appointed governess to the household of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and fourth son of King Edward III. Widowed at twenty-one, Katherine became John's mistress and then, after many twists of fortune, his bride in a scandalous marriage. Mistress of the Monarchy reveals a woman ahead of her time--making her own choices, flouting convention, and taking control of her own destiny. Indeed, without Katherine Swynford, the course of English history, perhaps even the world, would have been very different.NOTE: This edition does not contain illustrations.
Despite five centuries of investigation by historians, the sinister deaths of the boy king Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, remain two of the most fascinating murder mysteries in English history. Did Richard III really kill "the Princes in the Tower," as is commonly believed, or was the murderer someone else entirely? Carefully examining every shred of contemporary evidence as well as dozens of modern accounts, Alison Weir reconstructs the entire chain of events leading to the double murder. We are witnesses to the rivalry, ambition, intrigue, and struggle for power that culminated in the imprisonment of the princes and the hushed-up murders that secured Richard's claim to the throne as Richard III. A masterpiece of historical research and a riveting story of conspiracy and deception, The Princes in the Tower at last provides a solution to this age-old puzzle. Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more. RandomHouseReadersCircle. com
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Alison Weir's Mary Boleyn.Isabella arrived in London in 1308, the spirited twelve-year-old daughter of King Philip IV of France. Her marriage to the heir to England's throne was designed to heal old political wounds between the two countries, and in the years that followed, she would become an important figure, a determined and clever woman whose influence would come to last centuries. But Queen Isabella's political machinations led generations of historians to malign her, earning her a reputation as a ruthless schemer and an odious nickname, "the She-Wolf of France." Now the acclaimed author of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Alison Weir, reexamines the life of Isabella of England, history's other notorious and charismatic medieval queen. Praised for her fair looks, the newly wed Isabella was denied the attentions of Edward II, a weak, sexually ambiguous monarch with scant taste for his royal duties. As their marriage progressed, Isabella was neglected by her dissolute husband and slighted by his favored male courtiers. Humiliated and deprived of her income, her children, and her liberty, Isabella escaped to France, where she entered into a passionate affair with Edward II's mortal enemy, Roger Mortimer. Together, Isabella and Mortimer led the only successful invasion of English soil since the Norman Conquest of 1066, deposing Edward and ruling in his stead as co-regents for Isabella's young son, Edward III. Fate, however, was soon to catch up with Isabella and her lover. Many mysteries and legends have been woven around Isabella's story. She was long condemned as an accessory to Edward II's brutal murder in 1327, but recent research has cast doubt on whether that murder even took place. Isabella' s reputation, then, rests largely on the prejudices of monkish chroniclers and prudish Victorian scholars. Here Alison Weir gives a startling, groundbreaking new perspective on Isabella, in this first full biography in more than 150 years. In a work of extraordinary original research, Weir effectively strips away centuries of propaganda, legend, and romantic myth, and reveals a truly remarkable woman who had a profound influence upon the age in which she lived and the history of western Europe. Engaging, vibrant, alive with breathtaking detail and unforgettable characters, Queen Isabella is biographical history at its finest.
Lancaster and York. For much of the fifteenth century, these two families were locked in battle for control of the British monarchy. Kings were murdered and deposed. Armies marched on London. Old noble names were ruined while rising dynasties seized power and lands. The war between the royal House of Lancaster and York, the longest and most complex in British history, profoundly altered the course of the monarchy. In The Wars of the Roses, Alison Weir reconstructs this conflict with the same dramatic flair and impeccable research that she brought to her highly praised The Princes in the Tower.The first battle erupted in 1455, but the roots of the conflict reached back to the dawn of the fifteenth century, when the corrupt, hedonistic Richard II was sadistically murdered, and Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king, seized England's throne. Both Henry IV and his son, the cold warrior Henry V, ruled England ably, if not always wisely--but Henry VI proved a disaster, both for his dynasty and his kingdom. Only nine months old when his father's sudden death made him king, Henry VI became a tormented and pathetic figure, weak, sexually inept, and prey to fits of insanity. The factional fighting that plagued his reign escalated into bloody war when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, laid claim to the throne that was rightfully his--and backed up his claim with armed might.Alison Weir brings brilliantly to life both the war itself and the historic figures who fought it on the great stage of England. Here are the queens who changed history through their actions--the chic, unconventional Katherine of Valois, Henry V's queen; the ruthless, social-climbing Elizabeth Wydville; and, most crucially, Margaret of Anjou, a far tougher and more powerful character than her husband,, Henry VI, and a central figure in the Wars of the Roses.Here, too, are the nobles who carried the conflict down through the generations--the Beauforts, the bastard descendants of John of Gaunt, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, known to his contemporaries as "the Kingmaker"; and the Yorkist King, Edward IV, a ruthless charmer who pledged his life to cause the downfall of the House of Lancaster.The Wars of the Roses is history at its very best--swift and compelling, rich in character, pageantry, and drama, and vivid in its re-creation of an astonishing, dangerous, and often grim period of history. Alison Weir, one of the foremost authorities on the British royal family, demonstrates here that she is also one of the most dazzling stylists writing history today.From the Hardcover edition.
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