Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Red Queen

I love Philippa Gregory. She may not be the most accurate of writers of historical fiction, but she tells a good story, and she tells it well.
I first fell in love with Gregory's works with The Wideacre Trilogy: Wideacre, The Favored Child and Meridon. Three wonderful, gripping novels. Equally terrific were the Tudor series, including The Other Boleyn Girl, The Constant Princess and The Boleyn Inheritance.
Philippa Gregory, a New York Times bestselling author, has moved backwards from the Tudors to the Plantagenets, with her new series, The Cousins' War. The war, of course, is the War of the Roses - the Houses of Lancaster and York - that culminated with the marriage of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, and Henry Tudor.
Ah, but I am going a bit too fast here.
The first book in the series, The White Queen, was about Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV. The second book, The Red Queen, was recently published by Simon & Schuster ($25.99.)
Margaret Beaufort, the heiress to the Lancaster claim to the throne, and she never gives up on her belief that her family are the true heirs to the English throne.
Margaret Beaufort is one of the lesser known of the Plantagenet women, although she is one of the most important. The blood of the Lancaster claim to the throne coursed through her veins, and she never let anyone forget it.
The claim was seen as tenuous because many considered the Beauforts as non-dynasts. Margaret was the daughter of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, who was himself the son of John Beaufort, Marquess of Somerset, eldest son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Katherine Swynford.
All four of John and Katherine's children were born while he was still married to his second wife, Constance of Castile. John and Katherine were eventually married, and their four children were legitimated. Despite the bar stigma on their escutcheons, the Beauforts were major players in the War of the Roses.

Margaret was twelve years old when she was married to Edmund Tudor, the son of Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V, who was the grandson of John of Gaunt and his first wife, Blanche of Lancaster. Edmund's older half brother was King Henry VI, overthrown by Edward IV.
Thus, the marriage between Lady Margaret Beaufort and the Earl of Richmond was an attempt to strengthen the Lancaster line. A year after the marriage, Margaret gave birth to her only child, Henry Tudor. Jasper, fighting for the Lancastrians, was captured by a Yorkist partisan, imprisoned, and died of the plague four years after his marriage.
While young Henry was left with his uncle, Jasper Tudor, in Wales, Margaret was married off to Lord Stanley, a political but difficult marriage. Margaret's sole goal, however, was to keep her son safe and prepare him to be king. She was determined that the Lancaster line would win out, and her son would be crowned king. She also pledged that Henry would marry the daughter of her enemy, Edward IV, and, thus, unite the houses of Lancaster and York.
The Red Queen is a wonderful read. Margaret's story is so fascinating, and a story determined to be told. She is brought to life by a truly skilled writer. This book would be make a fabulous mini-series.
Margaret's faith in God, and her determination to keep her dream alive -- in her son -- made her a vital player in the War of the Roses.

The Red Queen -- fabulous book, superb read. Ready for the next one, Philippa! Hurry up!

Simon & Schuster is also the UK publisher. A paperback edition will be published in the UK in April 2011.

Simon & Schuster's webpage for The Red Queen

Philippa Gregory has her own website: http://www.philippagregory.com/

Friday, August 27, 2010

I am sure Ted's new book will be terrific!

BERNADOTTEÄTTLINGAR (The Bernadotte Descendants), by Ted Rosvall.
ISBN 91-975671-6-7 Falköping, Sweden, 2010. 144 pages, large format, 400 illustrations.
Apart from an extremely detailed genealogy of the descendants of King Carl XIV Johan - the first Bernadotte on the thrones of Sweden and Norway - tehre is also a large section of Seize Quartiers (Ahnentafel) towards the end of the book, as in the first edition which came in 1992. In this book you will find a wealth of information hitherto never published. New branches, new marriages, new children - even a couple of acknowledged illegitimate branches.
The book is bi-lingual, Swedish and English, and the genealogy can be understood in any language.
Sold by Rosvall Royal Books [royalbooks@telia.com] at SEK 295:- plus postage.

Swedish Royal Wedding - DVD

I have received an email from SVT, which televised the Swedish royal wedding, in June. They expect to release a DVD with highlights of the wedding in time for Christmas.

Royal Wedding

Here is the link to Vart Bröllop, the official book commemorating the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling.


I have not yet seen the book, but I expect to be getting a copy in several weeks.

The book is in Swedish only.


The book can be ordered from this Swedish book store:


Friday, August 20, 2010

Postcards of Lost Royals

I think the title of this book -- Postcards of Lost Royals -- is misleading. Are these royals lost, and no one can find them. No, this is not the case. This tiny book, published by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, was inspired by the extensive postcard collection left to the Library by John Fraser. The postcards themselves are largely familiar, especially to collectors (like me), but this should not deter anyone from acquiring this book.
British writer Andrew Roberts provides the commentaries for each of the postcards.
The list of the postcards:
Queen Victoria and the baby (Prince Edward of Wales; Napoleon III; Nicholas II and Alexis; Grand Duchess Anastasia; The German Royal family (early Photoshop); Wilhelm II, Crown Prince Wilhelm, Prince Wilhelm; Crown Prince Wilhelm and family; Wilhelm II of Württemberg; Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria; Crown Prince Georg of Saxony and his brothers, Ernst Heinrich & Friedrich Christian; Grand Duke Nicholas of Oldenburg; Grand Duke Friedrich Franz of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his bride, Alexandra of Hanover; Grand Duchess Elisabeth of Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Altenburg and family; Hereditary Grand Duke Georg of Hesse and By Rhine; Prince Ludwig of Hesse and By Rhine; Duchess Karoline Mathilde of Schleswig-Holstein; Duchess Viktoria Adelheid of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and children; Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; Leopolf IV of Lippe and family; the Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe; the Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg; Prince Max of Baden with wife and daughter; Prince Wilhelm of Wied, Prince of Albania; Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and family; Emperor Karl of Austria with Crown Prince Otto; King Alfonso XIII of Spain; King Umberto II and Queen Marie Jose of Italy; King Constantine II; King Manoel II of Portigal and wife; King Peter I of Serbia; Nicholas of Montenegro and family; Michael I of Roumania; King Peter II of Yugoslavia; Simeon II of Bulgaria; Farouk of Egpypt; Duleep Singh; Ganga Singh, Maharaja of Bikaner; Jam of Nawangar; Ito Hirumbumi, Resident General of Korea; Pu Yi, and King Kalakaua I of Hawaii.

Robert's anecdotes provide concise background information on each of the subjects.

The price of Postcards of Lost Royals: $20.00/£8.00.



The Madness of Queen Maria

This book was a real surprise as it is well written and well researched. These are rare qualities for many modern books with royal subjects. Jenifer Roberts is the author of The Madness of Queen Maria, which is subtitled The Remarkable Life of Maria I of Portugal (Templeton:£12.95).

This is a biography of Queen Maria I of Portugal (1734-1836), the first female sovereign of Portugal. She was born at a difficult time in Portuguese history, as the country struggled to move beyond a battle between the Roman Catholic church and the state.

Maria was unsuited to be queen. She was a woman of great contradiction, she was fragile, and eventually succumbed to mental illness. Nor was Maria prepared to be Queen during a time when women did not reign, and were not well-educated. Maria was an overly devout Roman Catholic.

Maria was the eldest of four daughters of King José and Infanta Mariana of Spain. She was "affectionate, timid and shy," and she suffered from "bouts of melancholy and nervous agitation." This is not a surprise if you consider the fact that Maria was a member of a very inbred family. Her religiosity would play a role in Portugal's struggle to move toward reform and secularization. The Marquis de Pombol was in Maria's eyes, her greatest enemy. He sought to modernize Portugal, to lessen the powers of the Roman Catholic church, and, after the Lisbon earthquake in 1755, he sought grow and rebuild Portugal's capital.

In 1760, Maria was married to her paternal uncle Pedro. The couple had six children. She succeeded to the throne in 1777. One of her first acts was to dismiss the very popular Marquis de Pombal because of his perceived role in the Tavora affair. The Tavoras were among the most important aristocratic families in Portugal, but de Pombol was determined to destroy the power of these families, which were conjoined by the influence of the Jesuits. Maria's father's mistress was the wife of the head of the Tavora family. In 1858, the king slipped out of the palace to visit the Marquise. Several shots were fired, but the king escaped with minor injuries. Pombol saw the assassination attempt to bring down the Tavoras and other families. Some year earlier, de Pombol had wanted to marry a member of the Tavoras family, but he was seen as too provincial to marry into such an important family. Now was his opportunity to take revenge.
Through his spies and torture the Marquis obtained his evidence, and the entire Tavora family was found guilty of treason. Most were executed.
Maria never forgot, and never forgave.
The Queen's madness was first noticed in 1786, shortly after the death of her husband. Her mental state continued to deteriorate by the time her eldest son died in 1791. A year later, she was declared mentally ill, and her younger son was named as Regent.
In November 1807, the Portuguese Royal Family was forced to flee to Brazil, where Maria died in a convent in 1816.

Jenifer Roberts has written a very competent book that is based on good research. She exhausted official sources in Portugal and in the United Kingdom. A truly impressive work on the life of a very unknown Queen.

The book can be ordered POST FREE from the Book Depository in the UK.



Well, Here We Are

Royal Book News began as a bi-monthly newsletter in 1983. This was shortly after the final issue of the Royalty Collectors' Association of North America's journal was published. My book reviews in this journal, which was published for three years, were very popular. I started Royal Book News, known affectionately to readers as RBN, and kept the newsletter going until last year.

Royal Book News is now a blog: RBN.

This blog will focus on news of new royal books, published on both sides of the Atlantic, in English, and in other languages. I will provide information on how to order the titles that are reviewed or discussed here. Sit back, and enjoy!