Lady of the English

Lady of the English

eBook - 2011
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A star back in Britain, Elizabeth Chadwick is finally getting the attention she deserves here -USA Today The best writer of medieval fiction currently around. -Historical Novels Review Matilda, daughter of Henry I, knows that there are those who will not accept her as England's queen when her father dies. But the men who support her rival Stephen do not know the iron will that drives her. Adeliza, Henry's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother, is now married to a warrior who fights to keep Matilda off the throne. But Adeliza, born with a strength that can sustain her through heartrending pain, knows that the crown belongs to a woman this time. In the anarchy, in a world where a man's word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda? How long can Matilda fight for the throne that she has struggled so bitterly to win? I rank Elizabeth Chadwick with such historical novelist stars as Dorothy Dunnett and Anya Seton. -Sharon Kay Penman, New York Times bestselling author of Devil's Brood Elizabeth Chadwick is to medieval England what Philippa Gregory is to the Tudors and the Stuarts, and Bernard Cornwell is to the Dark Ages. -Books Monthly, UK
Publisher: Naperville, Ill. : Sourcebooks Landmark, [2011], ©2011
ISBN: 9781402250934
Branch Call Number: FICTION Cha
Description: 1 online resource (514 pages) : maps
Additional Contributors: Freading (Firm)


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Oct 19, 2017

Matilda who? Adeliza who?

Unfortunately, the names of these two women are often lost in history, except to those who have a passion or inclination towards the medieval. If you were to ask anyone to name a Queen of England, I think the popular choices are often the more recent: Elizabeth II, Mary of Teck, Victoria. The women who lived at the beginning, in the early years of post-Norman conquest England, are often forgotten.

This novel tells the story of two of England's lesser-known female figures: Empress Matilda and her stepmother, Queen Adeliza. Two real women who were placed in large positions of power, but yet living in a man's world, actually wielded very little. Matilda, being the only surviving child and heir of King Henry I (he himself a son of William the Conqueror) and Adeliza being his queen consort. King Henry attempted to do right by his only daughter, recognizing that her fierce spirit and determined nature would afford her the ability to rule and govern as a queen.

But wait, a WOMAN inheriting the crown? No, no, no, this simply will not do.

Here were face the irony of the times: women were not seen as strong enough of the mind or body to rule as a regnant sovereign, and yet when King Henry intended to inherit his daughter in such a way, it is in the weakness of his lords that Matilda is so swiftly disinherited in favour of her male cousin, Stephen of Blois. Men simply cannot support the succession and rule of a woman, period, ever, period. Thankfully, Matilda didn't lie down and take the usurpation of her crown lightly. She fought back, fiercely, to claim what was hers by right. Unfortunately, this did result in 18 years of civil war, a time period in England known as "The Anarchy" which was just as exhausting to read and imagine as it would have been to live through.

Adeliza, in her time as queen consort, faced her own battles. Much different from Matilda's battles of literal bloodshed and war paired with the frustrations she felt towards the patriarchy, Adeliza embodies the struggles of the female. The struggle to conceive, the jealousy and despair at her husband's mistresses and flocks of illegitimate children, on top of being near in age to the stepdaughter set to inherit the throne. After the death of King Henry, Adeliza was able to do what little to no women was ever to accomplish in this time; she married for love. Unfortunately for her, her new husband William D'Albini is in the support of King Stephen, while she herself supported the cause of Matilda. Would this division of loyalty divide her new, happy, and fruitful marriage?

Matilda and Adeliza both endured so much simply because they were women. While their similarities lie mostly in the struggles of their gender, there is a great amount of balance between these two. Adeliza struggled quietly to herself, not often issuing a complaint, whereas Matilda came out of the gate guns blazing a la Xena Warrior Princess with her war cry.

Matilda first sought to defend her own claim to the throne, but soon realized after years of war that her purpose was not to secure for herself, but rather for her eldest son, also named Henry, also a cantankerous and determined youth who was raised knowing his destiny.

Later in her life, Matilda would meet her match in another fierce, determined, and stubborn woman who would come into her life; her future daughter-in-law, Eleanor of Acquitaine. But that's another story for another time.

PrimaGigi Feb 15, 2012

If you like uphill battles with your books, this is it, this is a tome. The only other time, I was this elated to finish a book was reading I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles.

bookfanatic1979 Feb 13, 2012

I’ve covered most of Tudor England and Scotland, so it was nice to go further back to medieval England. Chadwick is an excellent author, albeit perhaps a tad too sympathetic to some of Matilda’s foibles.


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