The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.
“[A] compelling portrait not just of a Russian titan, but also of a flesh-and-blood woman.”—Newsweek
“An absorbing, satisfying biography.”—Los Angeles Times
“Juicy and suspenseful.”—The New York Times Book Review
“A great life, indeed, and irresistibly told.”—Salon
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times • The Washington Post • USA Today • The Boston Globe • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Newsweek/The Daily Beast • Salon • Vogue • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Providence Journal • Washington Examiner • South Florida Sun-Sentinel • BookPage • Bookreporter • Publishers Weekly
BONUS: This edition contains a Catherine the Great reader's guide.
THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Against the monumental canvas of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe and Russia, unfolds the magnificent story of Peter the Great. He brought Russia from the darkness of its own Middle Ages into the Enlightenment and transformed it into the power that has its legacy in the Russia of our own century.
The inspiration for the Channel 5 series Britain's Bloody Crown
The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors.
Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Helen Rappaport paints a compelling portrait of the doomed grand duchesses." —People magazine
"The public spoke of the sisters in a gentile, superficial manner, but Rappaport captures sections of letters and diary entries to showcase the sisters' thoughtfulness and intelligence." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Days of the Romanovs and Caught in the Revolution, The Romanov Sisters reveals the untold stories of the four daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra.
They were the Princess Dianas of their day—perhaps the most photographed and talked about young royals of the early twentieth century. The four captivating Russian Grand Duchesses—Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia Romanov—were much admired for their happy dispositions, their looks, the clothes they wore and their privileged lifestyle.
Over the years, the story of the four Romanov sisters and their tragic end in a basement at Ekaterinburg in 1918 has clouded our view of them, leading to a mass of sentimental and idealized hagiography. With this treasure trove of diaries and letters from the grand duchesses to their friends and family, we learn that they were intelligent, sensitive and perceptive witnesses to the dark turmoil within their immediate family and the ominous approach of the Russian Revolution, the nightmare that would sweep their world away, and them along with it.
The Romanov Sisters sets out to capture the joy as well as the insecurities and poignancy of those young lives against the backdrop of the dying days of late Imperial Russia, World War I and the Russian Revolution. Helen Rappaport aims to present a new and challenging take on the story, drawing extensively on previously unseen or unpublished letters, diaries and archival sources, as well as private collections. It is a book that will surprise people, even aficionados.
With the biographer’s rare genius for expressing the essence of extraordinary lives, Massie brings to life a crowd of glittery figures: the single-minded Admiral von Tirpitz; the young, ambitious Winston Churchill; the ruthless, sycophantic Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow; Britain’s greatest twentieth-century foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey; and Jacky Fisher, the eccentric admiral who revolutionized the British navy and brought forth the first true battleship, the H.M.S. Dreadnought.
Their story, and the story of the era, filled with misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and events leading to unintended conclusions, unfolds like a Greek tragedy in this powerful narrative. Intimately human and dramatic, Dreadnought is history at its most riveting.
Praise for Dreadnought
“Dreadnought is history in the grand manner, as most people prefer it: how people shaped, or were shaped by, events.”—Time
“A classic [that] covers superbly a whole era . . . engrossing in its glittering gallery of characters.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“[Told] on a grand scale . . . Massie [is] a master of historical portraiture and anecdotage.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Brilliant on everything he writes about ships and the sea. It is Massie’s eye for detail that makes his nautical set pieces so marvelously evocative.”—Los Angeles Times
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.
Nicknamed ‘The Anarchy' for its unprecedented levels of chaos and disorder, the succession crisis that followed the death of King Henry I in 1135 resulted in England's first civil war.
‘The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour’ neatly covers all the major facts and events giving you a clear and straightforward overview of the plots and violence that ensued during the the nineteen-year conflict. ‘The Medieval Anarchy: History in an Hour’ is engagingly written and accessible for all history lovers.
This, in an hour, is the story of ‘The Medieval Anarchy’ through the personalities, context, events and aftermath of England's first, and often forgotten, civil war.
Love your history? Find out about the world with History in an Hour...
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.
This richly entertaining biography chronicles the eventful life of Queen Victoria’s firstborn son, the quintessential black sheep of Buckingham Palace, who matured into as wise and effective a monarch as Britain has ever seen. Granted unprecedented access to the royal archives, noted scholar Jane Ridley draws on numerous primary sources to paint a vivid portrait of the man and the age to which he gave his name.
Born Prince Albert Edward, and known to familiars as “Bertie,” the future King Edward VII had a well-earned reputation for debauchery. A notorious gambler, glutton, and womanizer, he preferred the company of wastrels and courtesans to the dreary life of the Victorian court. His own mother considered him a lazy halfwit, temperamentally unfit to succeed her. When he ascended to the throne in 1901, at age fifty-nine, expectations were low. Yet by the time he died nine years later, he had proven himself a deft diplomat, hardworking head of state, and the architect of Britain’s modern constitutional monarchy.
Jane Ridley’s colorful biography rescues the man once derided as “Edward the Caresser” from the clutches of his historical detractors. Excerpts from letters and diaries shed new light on Bertie’s long power struggle with Queen Victoria, illuminating one of the most emotionally fraught mother-son relationships in history. Considerable attention is paid to King Edward’s campaign of personal diplomacy abroad and his valiant efforts to reform the political system at home. Separating truth from legend, Ridley also explores Bertie’s relationships with the women in his life. Their ranks comprised his wife, the stunning Danish princess Alexandra, along with some of the great beauties of the era: the actress Lillie Langtry, longtime “royal mistress” Alice Keppel (the great-grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles), and Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston.
Edward VII waited nearly six decades for his chance to rule, then did so with considerable panache and aplomb. A magnificent life of an unexpectedly impressive king, The Heir Apparent documents the remarkable transformation of a man—and a monarchy—at the dawn of a new century.
Praise for The Heir Apparent
“If [The Heir Apparent] isn’t the definitive life story of this fascinating figure of British history, then nothing ever will be.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“The Heir Apparent is smart, it’s fascinating, it’s sometimes funny, it’s well-documented and it reads like a novel, with Bertie so vivid he nearly leaps from the page, cigars and all.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I closed The Heir Apparent with admiration and a kind of wry exhilaration.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Ridley is a serious scholar and historian, who keeps Bertie’s flaws and virtues in a fine balance.”—The Boston Globe
“Brilliantly entertaining . . . a landmark royal biography.”—The Sunday Telegraph
“Superb.”—The New York Times Book Review
From the Hardcover edition.
Louis-Charles, Duc de Normandie, enjoyed a charmed early childhood in the gilded palace of Versailles. At the age of four, he became the dauphin, heir to the most powerful throne in Europe. Yet within five years he was to lose everything. Drawn into the horror of the French Revolution, his family was incarcerated and their fate thrust into the hands of the revolutionaries who wished to destroy the monarchy.
In 1793, when Marie Antoinette was beheaded at the guillotine, she left her adored eight-year-old son imprisoned in the Temple Tower. Far from inheriting a throne, the orphaned boy-king had to endure the hostility and abuse of a nation. Two years later, the revolutionary leaders declared Louis XVII dead. No grave was dug, no monument built to mark his passing.
Immediately, rumors spread that the prince had, in fact, escaped from prison and was still alive. Others believed that he had been murdered, his heart cut out and preserved as a relic. As with the tragedies of England's princes in the Tower and the Romanov archduchess Anastasia, countless "brothers" soon approached Louis-Charles's older sister, Marie-Therese, who survived the revolution. They claimed not only the dauphin's name, but also his inheritance. Several "princes" were plausible, but which, if any, was the real heir to the French throne?
The Lost King of France is a moving and dramatic tale that interweaves a pivotal moment in France's history with a compelling detective story that involves pretenders to the crown, royalist plots and palace intrigue, bizarre legal battles, and modern science. The quest for the truth continued into the twenty-first century, when, thanks to DNA testing, the strange odyssey of a stolen heart found within the royal tombs brought an exciting conclusion to the two-hundred-year-old mystery of the lost king of France.
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Alison Weir’s Mary Boleyn.
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.
Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.
Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married—was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In his ambition to provide a male heir to the throne, Henry VIII married six times. Divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, caused England’s break from the Catholic church in Rome. He went on to divorce Anne of Cleves and behead Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard for infidelities. Jane Seymour died and Catherine Parr survived Henry.
Henry VIII’s Wives in an Hour will introduce you to these six entirely diverse and captivating personalities and the events that propelled them to their individual fates. You will learn which wife had what impact on Henry and England and understand why Henry and his six wives form the most popular period of Tudor history.
Know your stuff: read about Henry VIII’s wives in just one hour.
Britain's Royal Families is a unique reference book. It provides, for the first time in one volume, complete genealogical details of all members of the royal houses of England, Scotland and Great Britain - from 800AD to the present. Here is the vital biographical information relating not only to each monarch, but also to every member of their immediate family, from parents to grandchildren. Drawing on countless authorities, both ancient and modern, Alison Weir explores the royal family tree in unprecedented depth and provides a comprehensive guide to the heritage of today's royal family.
Born at a time when Christianity was dying out and the Ottoman Empire was aggressively expanding, Isabella was inspired in her youth by tales of Joan of Arc, a devout young woman who unified her people and led them to victory against foreign invaders. In 1474, when most women were almost powerless, twenty-three-year-old Isabella defied a hostile brother and a mercurial husband to seize control of Castile and León. Her subsequent feats were legendary. She ended a twenty-four-generation struggle between Muslims and Christians, forcing North African invaders back over the Mediterranean Sea. She laid the foundation for a unified Spain. She sponsored Columbus's trip to the Indies and negotiated Spanish control over much of the New World with the help of Rodrigo Borgia, the infamous Pope Alexander VI. She also annihilated all who stood against her by establishing a bloody religious Inquisition that would darken Spain's reputation for centuries. Whether saintly or satanic, no female leader has done more to shape our modern world, in which millions of people in two hemispheres speak Spanish and practice Catholicism. Yet history has all but forgotten Isabella's influence, due to hundreds of years of misreporting that often attributed her accomplishments to Ferdinand, the bold and philandering husband she adored. Using new scholarship, Downey's luminous biography tells the story of this brilliant, fervent, forgotten woman, the faith that propelled her through life, and the land of ancient conflicts and intrigue she brought under her command.
From the Hardcover edition.
In this highly anticipated biography Goldsworthy puts his deep knowledge of ancient sources to full use, recounting the events of Augustus’ long life in greater detail than ever before. Goldsworthy pins down the man behind the myths: a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless. Under Augustus’ rule the empire prospered, yet his success was never assured and the events of his life unfolded with exciting unpredictability. Goldsworthy captures the passion and savagery, the public image and private struggles of the real man whose epic life continues to influence western history.
Through brilliant and often darkly comic portraits of these men and their lives, their foibles and obsessions, Miranda Carter delivers the tragicomic story of Europe’s early twentieth-century aristocracy, a solipsistic world preposterously out of kilter with its times.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
At 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.
Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) is the most important woman in Chinese history. She ruled China for decades and brought a medieval empire into the modern age.
At the age of sixteen, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China—behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.
In this groundbreaking biography, Jung Chang vividly describes how Cixi fought against monumental obstacles to change China. Under her the ancient country attained virtually all the attributes of a modern state: industries, railways, electricity, the telegraph and an army and navy with up-to-date weaponry. It was she who abolished gruesome punishments like “death by a thousand cuts” and put an end to foot-binding. She inaugurated women’s liberation and embarked on the path to introduce parliamentary elections to China. Chang comprehensively overturns the conventional view of Cixi as a diehard conservative and cruel despot.
Cixi reigned during extraordinary times and had to deal with a host of major national crises: the Taiping and Boxer rebellions, wars with France and Japan—and an invasion by eight allied powers including Britain, Germany, Russia and the United States. Jung Chang not only records the Empress Dowager’s conduct of domestic and foreign affairs, but also takes the reader into the depths of her splendid Summer Palace and the harem of Beijing’s Forbidden City, where she lived surrounded by eunuchs—one of whom she fell in love, with tragic consequences. The world Chang describes here, in fascinating detail, seems almost unbelievable in its extraordinary mixture of the very old and the very new.
Based on newly available, mostly Chinese, historical documents such as court records, official and private correspondence, diaries and eyewitness accounts, this biography will revolutionize historical thinking about a crucial period in China’s—and the world’s—history. Packed with drama, fast paced and gripping, it is both a panoramic depiction of the birth of modern China and an intimate portrait of a woman: as the concubine to a monarch, as the absolute ruler of a third of the world’s population, and as a unique stateswoman.
From the Hardcover edition.
The New Statesman Book of the Year selection by Lucy Hughes-Hallett
BBC History Magazine Book of the Year selection by Helen Rappaport
"A masterpiece . . . . [T]his heartbreaking narrative of family dysfunction and royal sacrifice is an absolute page-turner." —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
"[A] fascinating, story-filled account . . . . Each story is a revelation." —Jenny Uglow, The Guardian
The surprising, deliciously dramatic, and ultimately heartbreaking story of King George III's radical pursuit of happiness in his private life with Queen Charlotte and their 15 children
In the U.S., Britain's George III, the protagonist of A Royal Experiment, is known as the king from whom Americans won their independence and as "the mad king," but in Janice Hadlow's groundbreaking and entertaining new biography, he is another character altogether—compelling and relatable.
He was the first of Britain's three Hanoverian kings to be born in England, the first to identify as native of the nation he ruled. But this was far from the only difference between him and his predecessors. Neither of the previous Georges was faithful to his wife, nor to his mistresses. Both hated their own sons. And, overall, their children were angry, jealous, and disaffected schemers, whose palace shenanigans kick off Hadlow's juicy narrative and also made their lives unhappy ones.
Pained by his childhood amid this cruel and feuding family, George came to the throne aspiring to be a new kind of king—a force for moral good. And to be that new kind of king, he had to be a new kind of man. Against his irresistibly awful family background—of brutal royal intrigue, infidelity, and betrayal—George fervently pursued a radical domestic dream: he would have a faithful marriage and raise loving, educated, and resilient children.
The struggle of King George—along with his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their 15 children—to pursue a passion for family will surprise history buffs and delight a broad swath of biography readers and royal watchers.
Marie Antoinette, Anne Boleyn, and Mary, Queen of Scots. What did they have in common? For a while they were crowned in gold, cosseted in silk, and flattered by courtiers. But in the end, they spent long nights in dark prison towers and were marched to the scaffold where they surrendered their heads to the executioner. And they are hardly alone in their undignified demises. Throughout history, royal women have had a distressing way of meeting bad ends--dying of starvation, being burned at the stake, or expiring in childbirth while trying desperately to produce an heir. They always had to be on their toes and all too often even devious plotting, miraculous pregnancies, and selling out their sisters was not enough to keep them from forcible consignment to religious orders. From Cleopatra (suicide by asp), to Princess Caroline (suspiciously poisoned on her coronation day), there’s a gory downside to being blue-blooded when you lack a Y chromosome. Kris Waldherr’s elegant little book is a chronicle of the trials and tribulations of queens across the ages, a quirky, funny, utterly macabre tribute to the dark side of female empowerment. Over the course of fifty irresistibly illustrated and too-brief lives, Doomed Queens charts centuries of regal backstabbing and intrigue. We meet well-known figures like Catherine of Aragon, whose happy marriage to Henry VIII ended prematurely when it became clear that she was a starter wife--the first of six. And we meet forgotten queens like Amalasuntha, the notoriously literate Ostrogoth princess who overreached politically and was strangled in her bath. While their ends were bleak, these queens did not die without purpose. Their unfortunate lives are colorful cautionary tales for today’s would-be power brokers--a legacy of worldly and womanly wisdom gathered one spectacular regal ruin at a time.
The monarchy is one of Britain’s longest surviving institutions – as well as one of its most tumultuous and revered. In this masterful book, David Starkey looks at the monarchy as a whole, charting its history from Roman times, to the Wars of the Roses, the chaos of the Civil War, the fall of Charles I and Cromwell's emergence as Lord Protector – all the way up until the Victorian era when Britain’s monarchs came face-to-face with modernity.
This brilliant collection of biographies of Britain’s kings and queens provides an in-depth examination of what the British monarchy has meant, what it means now and what it will continue to mean. Bringing to life a cast of colourful characters, Starkey’s trademark energy and authority make him the perfect guide on this epic, accessible and compelling journey, as he offers us a vivid portrait of British culture, politics and nationhood through an institution that has defined the realm for nearly two thousand years.
The mummy’s “afterlife” is a modern story, not an ancient one. Award-winning science writer Jo Marchant traces the mummy’s story from its first brutal autopsy in 1925 to the most recent arguments over its DNA. From the glamorous treasure hunts of the 1920s to today’s high-tech scans in volatile modern Egypt, Marchant introduces us to the brilliant and sometimes flawed people who have devoted their lives to revealing the mummy’s secrets, unravels the truth behind the hyped-up TV documentaries, and explains what science can and can’t tell us about King Tutankhamun.
This is the story of the American divorcee notorious for allegedly seducing a British king off his throne. "That woman," so called by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, was born Bessie Wallis Warfield in 1896 in Baltimore. Neither beautiful nor brilliant, she endured an impoverished childhood, which fostered in her a burning desire to rise above her circumstances.
Acclaimed biographer Anne Sebba offers an eye-opening account of one of the most talked about women of her generation. It explores the obsessive nature of Simpson's relationship with Prince Edward, the suggestion that she may have had a Disorder of Sexual Development, and new evidence showing she may never have wanted to marry Edward at all.
Since her death, Simpson has become a symbol of female empowerment as well as a style icon. But her psychology remains an enigma. Drawing from interviews and newly discovered letters, That Woman shines a light on this captivating and complex woman, an object of fascination that has only grown with the years.
King of England, claimant King of France, Lord – and later King – of Ireland, Supreme Head of the Church of England and, perhaps most famously, six times a husband, Henry VIII is England’s most notorious monarch.
Succeeding his father, Henry VII, he allied with the Holy Roman Emperor and began his many obsessive invasions of France. Meanwhile the handsome, worldly king embarked on his famous quests for a suitable wife and heir. With marriage to Anne Boleyn came the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church, Reformation and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. From his childhood to his later years and famed appetites for food, sex and validation, ‘Henry VIII: History in an Hour’ describes the life of a man whose desires and determination changed England and the world.
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour...
After more than a decade of working in Hollywood, actress Jayne Amelia Larson found herself out of luck, out of work, and out of prospects.
When she got hired to drive for the Saudi royal family vacationing in Beverly Hills, Larson thought she’d been handed the golden ticket. She’d heard stories of the Saudis bestowing $20,000 tips and Rolex watches on their drivers, but when the family arrived at LAX with twenty million dollars in cash, Larson realized that she might be in for the ride of her life.
With awestruck humor and deep compassion, Larson shares the incredible insights she gained as the lone female in a detail of more than forty chauffeurs assigned to drive a beautiful Saudi princess, her family, and their extensive entourage.
At its heart, this is an upstairs-downstairs, true-to-life fable for our global times; a story about the corruption that nearly infinite wealth causes, and about what we all do for money. Equal parts funny, surprising, and insightful, Driving the Saudis provides both entertainment and sharp social commentary on one of the world’s most secretive families.
Winner of the Adele Mellen Prize for Distinguished Scholarship, Marie Antoinette’s Head: The Royal Hairdresser, The Queen, and the Revolution charts the rise of Leonard Autie from humble origins as a country barber in the south of France to the inventor of the Pouf and premier hairdresser to Queen Marie-Antoinette. By unearthing a variety of sources from the 18th and 19th centuries, including memoirs (including Léonard’s own), court documents, and archived periodicals the author, French History professor and expert Will Bashor, tells Autie’s mostly unknown story. Bashor chronicles Leonard’s story, the role he played in the life of his most famous client, and the chaotic and history-making world in which he rose to prominence. Besides his proximity to the queen, Leonard also had a most fascinating life filled with sex (he was the only man in a female dominated court), seduction, intrigue, espionage, theft, exile, treason, and possibly, execution.
The early 1850s until the late 1920s marked a turbulent and significant era for Russia. During that time the country underwent a massive transformation, taking it from days of grandeur under the tsars to the chaos of revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet Union.
At the center of all this tumult were four women of the Romanov dynasty. Marie Alexandrovna and Olga Constantinovna were born into the family, Russian Grand Duchesses at birth. Marie Feodorovna and Marie Pavlovna married into the dynasty, the former born a Princess of Denmark, the latter a Duchess of the German duchy of Mecklendburg-Schwerin.
In From Splendor to Revolution, we watch these pampered aristocratic women fight for their lives as the cataclysm of war engulfs them. In a matter of a few short years, they fell from the pinnacle of wealth and power to the depths of danger, poverty, and exile. It is an unforgettable epic story.
In this commanding book, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Robert K. Massie sweeps readers back to the extraordinary world of Imperial Russia to tell the story of the Romanovs’ lives: Nicholas’s political naïveté, Alexandra’s obsession with the corrupt mystic Rasputin, and little Alexis’s brave struggle with hemophilia. Against a lavish backdrop of luxury and intrigue, Massie unfolds a powerful drama of passion and history—the story of a doomed empire and the death-marked royals who watched it crumble.
BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Robert K. Massie's Catherine the Great.
The lives of the Romanovs were full of color and drama, but the personal life of Alexandra has remained enigmatic. Under Erickson's masterful scrutiny the full dimensions of the Empresses' singular psychology are revealed: her childhood bereavement, her long struggle to attain her romantic goal of marriage to Nicholas, the anguish of her pathological shyness, her struggles with her in-laws, her false pregnancy, her increasing eccentricities and loss of self as she became more preoccupied with matters of faith, and her increasing dependence on a series of occult mentors, the most notorious of whom was Rasputin. With meticulous care, long practiced skill, and generous imagination, Erickson crafts a character who lives and breathes.
After the untimely death of Prince Albert, the queen and her nation were plunged into a state of grief so profound that this one event would dramatically alter the shape of the British monarchy. For Britain had not just lost a prince: during his twenty year marriage to Queen Victoria, Prince Albert had increasingly performed the function of King in all but name. The outpouring of grief after Albert's death was so extreme, that its like would not be seen again until the death of Princess Diana 136 years later.
Drawing on many letters, diaries and memoirs from the Royal Archives and other neglected sources, as well as the newspapers of the day, Rappaport offers a new perspective on this compelling historical psychodrama--the crucial final months of the prince's life and the first long, dark ten years of the Queen's retreat from public view. She draws a portrait of a queen obsessed with her living husband and – after his death – with his enduring place in history. Magnificent Obsession will also throw new light on the true nature of the prince's chronic physical condition, overturning for good the 150-year old myth that he died of typhoid fever.
"This collection shines a light onto the character and experience of one of the most interesting of monarchs. . . . We are likely never to get a closer or clearer look at her. An intriguing and intense portrait of a woman who figures so importantly in the birth of our modern world."—Publishers Weekly
"An admirable scholarly edition of the queen's literary output. . . . This anthology will excite scholars of Elizabethan history, but there is something here for all of us who revel in the English language."—John Cooper, Washington Times
"Substantial, scholarly, but accessible. . . . An invaluable work of reference."—Patrick Collinson, London Review of Books
"In a single extraordinary volume . . . Marcus and her coeditors have collected the Virgin Queen's letters, speeches, poems and prayers. . . . An impressive, heavily footnoted volume."—Library Journal
"This excellent anthology of [Elizabeth's] speeches, poems, prayers and letters demonstrates her virtuosity and afford the reader a penetrating insight into her 'wiles and understandings.'"—Anne Somerset, New Statesman
"Here then is the only trustworthy collection of the various genres of Elizabeth's writings. . . . A fine edition which will be indispensable to all those interested in Elizabeth I and her reign."—Susan Doran, History
"In the torrent of words about her, the queen's own words have been hard to find. . . . [This] volume is a major scholarly achievement that makes Elizabeth's mind much more accessible than before. . . . A veritable feast of material in different genres."—David Norbrook, The New Republic
She was the quintessential queen: statuesque, regal, dazzlingly beautiful. Her royal birth gave her claim to the thrones of two nations; her marriage to the young French dauphin promised to place a third glorious crown on her noble head.
Instead, Mary Stuart became the victim of her own impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with a foolish passion that would lead to abduction, rape and even murder. Betrayed by those she most trusted, she would be lured into a deadly game of power, only to lose to her envious and unforgiving cousin, Elizabeth I.
Here is her story, a queen who lost a throne for love, a monarch pampered and adored even as she was led to her beheading, the unforgettable woman who became a legend for all time.
Lady Georgiana Spencer was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was nearly as famous in her day. In 1774, at the age of seventeen, Georgiana achieved immediate celebrity by marrying one of England's richest and most influential aristocrats, the Duke of Devonshire. Launched into a world of wealth and power, she quickly became the queen of fashionable society, adored by the Prince of Wales, a dear friend of Marie-Antoinette, and leader of the most important salon of her time. Not content with the role of society hostess, she used her connections to enter politics, eventually becoming more influential than most of the men who held office.
Her good works and social exploits made her loved by the multitudes, but Georgiana's public success, like Diana's, concealed a personal life that was fraught with suffering. The Duke of Devonshire was unimpressed by his wife's legendary charms, preferring instead those of her closest friend, a woman with whom Georgiana herself was rumored to be on intimate terms. For over twenty years, the three lived together in a jealous and uneasy ménage à trois, during which time both women bore the Duke's children—as well as those of other men.
Foreman's descriptions of Georgiana's uncontrollable gambling, all- night drinking, drug taking, and love affairs with the leading politicians of the day give us fascinating insight into the lives of the British aristocracy in the era of the madness of King George III, the American and French revolutions, and the defeat of Napoleon.
A gifted young historian whom critics are already likening to Antonia Fraser, Amanda Foreman draws on a wealth of fresh research and writes colorfully and penetratingly about the fascinating Georgiana, whose struggle against her own weaknesses, whose great beauty and flamboyance, and whose determination to play a part in the affairs of the world make her a vibrant, astonishingly contemporary figure.
His face is recognized the world over, his story is well known. But what is Prince William really like? As Diana’s eldest son, he was her confidant. While the tabloids eagerly lapped up the lurid details of his parents’ divorce, William lived painfully through it, suffering the embarrassment, the humiliation, and divided loyalties. He watched his father denounced on prime time television; he met the lovers. And when he was just fifteen, his beautiful, loving mother was suddenly, shocking snatched from his life forever. The nation lost its princess and its grief threatened the very future of the monarchy. What was almost forgotten in the clamor was that two small boys had lost their mother. His childhood was a recipe for disaster, yet as he approaches his thirtieth birthday, William is as well-balanced and sane a man as you could ever hope to meet. He has an utter determination to do the right thing and to serve his country as his grandmother has so successfully done for the last sixty years. Who stopped him from going off the rails, turning his back on his duty and wanting nothing to do with the press—the people he blamed for his mother’s death? Where did the qualities that have so entranced the world, and his new bride, Catherine, come from? In the last thirty years, Penny Junor has written extensively about his parents and the extended family into which he was born. With the trust built up over that time, she has been able to get closer to the answers than ever before.
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 Elizabeth of York
“Weir tells Elizabeth’s story well. . . . She is a meticulous scholar. . . . Most important, Weir sincerely admires her subject, doing honor to an almost forgotten queen.”—The New York Times Book Review
“In [Alison] Weir’s skillful hands, Elizabeth of York returns to us, full-bodied and three-dimensional. This is a must-read for Tudor fans!”—Historical Novels Review
“This bracing biography reveals a woman of integrity, who . . . helped [her husband] lay strong groundwork for the success of the new Tudor dynasty. As always in a Weir book, the tenor of the times is drawn with great color and authenticity.”—Booklist
“Weir once again demonstrates that she is an outstanding portrayer of the Tudor era, giving us a fully realized biography of a remarkable woman.”—Huntington News
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Here are the stories of Alexandra, whose enduring love story, controversial faith in Rasputin, and tragic end have become the stuff of legend; Marie, the flamboyant and eccentric queen who battled her way through a life of intrigues and was also the mother of two Balkan queens and of the scandalous Carol II of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, Spain's very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband's family-with devastating consequences for her marriage; Maud, King Edward VII's daughter, who was independent Norway's reluctant queen; and Sophie, Kaiser Wilhelm II's much maligned sister, daughter of an Emperor and herself the mother of no less than three kings and a queen, who ended her days in bitter exile.
Born to Rule evokes a world of luxury, wealth, and power in a bygone era, while also recounting the ordeals suffered by a unique group of royal women who at times faced poverty, exile, and death. Praised in their lifetimes for their legendary beauty, many of these women were also lauded-and reviled-for their political influence. Using never before published letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, secondary sources, and interviews with descendents of the subjects, Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an astonishing and memorable work of popular history.
David McCullough takes us along on the exhilarating journey to Missouri to find "The Unexpected Harry Truman."
Richard B. Sewall describes his twenty-year search for the elusive poet, Emily Dickinson.
Paul C. Nagel tells us about "The Adams Women" - four generations of women he came to admire while writing his earlier biography of the Adams family.
Ronald Steel, author of a much-honored biography of the nation's greatest journalist, recalls in "Living with Walter Lippman," how the life of the biographer can become entwined with that of his subject.
Jean Strouse, on the trail of J. P. Morgan, discusses the fact that "there are two reasons why a man does anything, a good reason and a real reason."
Robert A. Caro reveals the frustrations of trying to unearth the true facts about Lyndon Johnson, a man who went to great pains to conceal them.
Together, these six biographers take us through a gallery of unique American lives - most of them moving, many of them startling, and all of them extraordinary.
Vicky, Alice, Helena, and Beatrice were historically unique sisters, born to a sovereign who ruled over a quarter of the earth's people and who gave her name to an era: Queen Victoria. Two of these princesses would themselves produce children of immense consequence. All five would curiously come to share many of the social restrictions and familial machinations borne by nineteenth-century women of less-exulted class.
Victoria and Albert's precocious firstborn child, Vicky, wed a Prussian prince in a political match her high-minded father hoped would bring about a more liberal Anglo-German order. That vision met with disaster when Vicky's son Wilhelm-- to be known as Kaiser Wilhelm-- turned against both England and his mother, keeping her out of the public eye for the rest of her life. Gentle, quiet Alice had a happier marriage, one that produced Alexandra, later to become Tsarina of Russia, and yet another Victoria, whose union with a Battenberg prince was to found the present Mountbatten clan. However, she suffered from melancholia and died at age thirty-five of what appears to have been a deliberate, grief-fueled exposure to the diphtheria germs that had carried away her youngest daughter. Middle child Helena struggled against obesity and drug addition but was to have lasting effect as Albert's literary executor. By contrast, her glittering and at times scandalous sister Louise, the most beautiful of the five siblings, escaped the claustrophobic stodginess of the European royal courts by marrying a handsome Scottish commoner, who became governor general of Canada, and eventually settled into artistic salon life as a respected sculptor. And as the baby of the royal brood of nine, rebelling only briefly to forge a short-lived marriage, Beatrice lived under the thumb of her mother as a kind of personal secretary until the queen's death.
Principally researched at the houses and palaces of its five subjects in London, Scotland, Berlin, Darmstadt, and Ottawa-- and entertainingly written by an experienced biographer whose last book concerned Victoria's final days-- Victoria's Daughters closely examines a generation of royal women who were dominated by their mother, married off as much for political advantage as for love, and finally passed over entirely with the accession of their n0 brother Bertie to the throne. Packard provides valuable insights into their complex, oft-tragic lives as daughters of their time.
We all know how the fairy tale ended: When King George died, "Uncle David" became King Edward VIII---who abdicated less than a year later to marry the scandalous Wallis Simpson. Suddenly the little princesses' father was King. The family moved to Buckingham Palace, and ten-year-old Princess Elizabeth became the heir to the crown she would ultimately wear for over fifty years.
The Little Princesses shows us how it all began. In the early thirties, the Duke and Duchess of York were looking for someone to educate their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, then five- and two-years-old. They already had a nanny---a family retainer who had looked after their mother when she was a child---but it was time to add someone younger and livelier to the household.
Enter Marion Crawford, a twenty-four-year-old from Scotland who was promptly dubbed "Crawfie" by the young Elizabeth and who would stay with the family for sixteen years. Beginning at the quiet family home in Piccadilly and ending with the birth of Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 1948, Crawfie tells how she brought the princesses up to be "Royal," while attempting to show them a bit of the ordinary world of underground trains, Girl Guides, and swimming lessons.
The Little Princesses was first published in 1950 to a furor we cannot imagine today. It has been called the original "nanny diaries" because it was the first account of life with the Royals ever published. Although hers was a touching account of the childhood of the Queen and Princess Margaret, Crawfie was demonized by the press. The Queen Mother, who had been a great friend and who had, Crawfie maintained, given her permission to write the account, never spoke to her again.
Reading The Little Princesses now, with a poignant new introduction by BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond, offers fascinating insights into the changing lives and times of Britains royal family.
This unique book is the result of a scrupulous worldwide search for every one of Diana's significant quotes. Upon reading this collection, one will find that behind her shy veneer dwelled a woman of extraordinary resourcefulness, stamina, and, perhaps above all, vulnerability. In fact, her open frankness about the events and people around her is both disarming and startling. The reader will discover the sharp clarity, endless warmth, and ready wit that she brought to her legendary life in this intimate self-portrait. This is the closest we will ever get to an autobiography from the People's Princess.