Royals & Rivalries | Social Sciences

An exciting read about an unfamiliar royal family, steers clear of overly academic language making this historic account a must for amateur historians; A well written portrait of a nearly forgotten countess, highly recommended for lovers of Tudor history and biographies.

redstarGoldstone, Nancy. Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots. Little, Brown. Apr. 2018. 496p. illus. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316387910. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316387880. HIST 

Goldstone (The Rival Queens) once again places a much-deserved spotlight on remarkable women from European history. In this case, the enduring ancestral legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542–87). Mary’s granddaughter Elizabeth Stuart, known as “the Winter Queen,” is less familiar than that of her grandmother, who was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1587 (nine years before Stuart was born). But the story of the Winter Queen and her colorful brood of children—one of whom fathered King George I—rivals that of the Tudors. Goldstone’s journey begins with Mary’s brutal beheading and takes us through the eventual ascension of her son to the throne, triggering a series of dramatic generational events that include jealous gun-wielding queens, shifting loyalties, scandalous affairs, unprecedented marital arrangements, endless war, and religious fanaticism. Most importantly, we learn of the impressive power and influence of Stuart and her four daughters, which endures to this day. VERDICT A compulsively readable account of an otherwise unfamiliar royal family. Goldstone writes with knowledge, humor, and ease—a masterly storyteller who steers clear of overly academic language. Ideal for amateur Tudor historians who wish to be introduced to a lesser-known yet equally fascinating royal family.—Erin Entrada Kelly, Philadelphia

Tallis, Nicola. Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester: The Romance and Conspiracy That Threatened Queen Elizabeth’s Court. Pegasus. Mar. 2018. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781681776576. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781681777146. BIOG

The name Lettice ­Knollys (1543–1634) may be unfamiliar to many readers, but as Tallis (Crown of Blood) demonstrates in this excellent biography, this English countess is worthy of better recognition, especially among enthusiasts of Tudor history. Knollys’s long and colorful life played out against the backdrop of Tudor politics and court intrigue, and she or her family were involved, for better or worse, in almost every significant event of Elizabeth I’s reign. As the mother of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, who was executed for treason in 1601, and as the lady-in-waiting who dared to marry the queen’s favorite courtier Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, Knollys’s life was inextricably connected to the monarch’s in profound, often tragic, ways. Tallis’s meticulous research and understanding of the intricacies of Elizabethan court life allow Knollys to emerge from undeserved obscurity to take center stage as a fearless, strong-willed woman who shared many of the characteristics of her royal rival, and who paid dearly for daring to follow her heart. VERDICT An eminently readable portrait of a fascinating woman. Highly recommended for readers of biography and Tudor history.—Sara Shreve, Newton, KS

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