HISTORY

Queens of the Crusades: England’s Medieval Queens

Ballantine. Feb. 2021. 560p. ISBN 9781101966693. $30. HIST
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In the second volume of her series centered on medieval queens of England after Queens of the Conquest, Weir highlights the first five queens of the Plantagenet dynasty: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella of Angoulême, Eleanor of Provence, and Eleanor of Castile. Though only one of them (Eleanor of Aquitaine) participated in a Crusade, the title effectively evokes the turbulent era in which these women lived, when England and France scrapped over territories of the Angevin Empire and English barons established the rights contained in the Magna Carta. Well-practiced in writing for a popular audience, Weir moves briskly and easily through two hundred years of history, though unfortunately documentation for several of her subjects is thin at various points, leaving Weir to fill in gaps with informed supposition or more general information on events during their reigns. As a result, readers might come away with as much or more information about the royal husbands than the queens themselves, though bringing attention to lesser-known figures like Berengaria and Isabella is still laudable.
VERDICT Existing fans of Weir’s histories will enjoy this newest installment, while those interested in English queens of this time period will find this a suitable if occasionally patchy overview.

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