Book Review: “The Boleyns Of Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson & Claire Ridgway

Hello!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for my blog.

Honestly, I see this as a good sign because it means that I am starting to enjoy these mini vacations! I have to say though, I did not do a whole lot of reading, ever since I finished the Celtic Blood series at the beginning of the summer, I have had a rough time figuring out what I want to get into next, as you might know I have really allowed myself to enjoy romance again, but they’re not as fun as they were around May, so I decided to dive deep into my historical fiction and even some nonfiction in there too, which is how I found this book on Kindle Unlimited in the middle of August.

I remember seeing this cover on the History of Royal Women’s instagram stories a few months before it actually came out. Moniek tries to give everyone an overview of all of the books coming out in both the US and UK and since it isn’t uncommon for the dates to be different, you may see it more than once. If you do not have instagram, she also does a blog post usually at the start of the month with more information about the books and when they officially come out too! If you’re curious about the books coming out in September, click here.


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Hever Castle is a picture-postcard fortified manor house nestled in the Kent countryside. It is famous for its links with the Boleyns, an East Anglian gentry family who rose and fell dramatically at the court of King Henry VIII.

In The Boleyns of Hever Castle, historians Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway invite you into the home of this notorious family.

Travel back in time to those 77 years of Boleyn ownership. Tour each room just as it was when Anne Boleyn retreated from court to escape the advances of Henry VIII or when she fought off the dreaded ‘sweat’. See the 16th century Hever Castle come to life with room reconstructions and read the story of the Boleyns, who, in just five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway have combined their considerable knowledge of the Boleyn family and Hever Castle to create this luxurious book. Packed with history and full-colour images, The Boleyns of Hever Castle will educate and enlighten you

taken from Amazon.

So, the book itself is divided up in three sections. The beginning is how the entire castle looked like when it was first built before the Boleyn family came along. The authors give you a lot of blueprints and reconstructed photos to give you a better idea, and this was something I could follow easily with but reading along through what was important about all of the balconies, rooms, and stairs. At some point of this, I became very confused and was tempted to skip that whole section–I complained so much that even my mom was telling me to do it! Once you finally complete this part, you move on to the origin story of the Boleyns.

This was definitely my favorite part of the book. I like to look up family trees to see where they came from and how various names play a part in the line of decedents. The first person you are introduced to is Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, who begins his quest to learn and work his way up the amount of positions like a mercer to sheriff of London. The men of the Boleyn were very good at their jobs, and this is something that continues through the generations to the point where you have Geoffrey’s great-great-grandson Thomas Boleyn becoming a diplomat for England, France, and Austria and then finally becoming the first Earl of Wiltshire in 1529.

Thomas would inherit a large amount of properties and after he married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, they would make Hever Castle their official residence. One of my favorite lines in the book was, they family could lived anywhere they wanted to, but they felt safe at Hever. The Countess would give birth to five children, but only Mary, Anne, and George would survive to adulthood. All of them were educated at Hever with their governesses and tutors, but most importantly Mary and Anne were allowed to take other courses that were mainly taught to the men of the household like falconry. Another part of their schooling, especially if they had family that worked within royal houses, they could live as apprentices or in Mary and Anne’s case, become ladies in waiting. They stayed with the Queen Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude of France before coming back to England and being part of Catherine of Aragon’s household.

This is the story of the rise of a remarkable family who, over five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

My views on whether Anne was a schemer or a pawn has definitely changed over the years. I think the thing we all need to remember is, you never said no Henry. I am sure there was fear among the many families that served under the king, especially if you could not get something done right away, which is why my views on Cardinal Worsley’s responsibility has flipped as well. I do not believe Anne could get out of the king’s clutches or her family’s ambitions to gain even more control of the king. Unfortunately, the Queen could not give Henry a son, and Anne was at the right place at the wrong time and her fate was sealed.

The final section of the book is what happened after Hever was left to the Crown and the rest of the Boleyn family died out in 1634 with the death of Lettice Knollys, who was the daughter of Catherine Carey, who then was the daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn, the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth to not lose her head after the events in 1539. It wasn’t until William Waldorf Astor took control of the property and brought it back to how it could have looked like when the Boleyn family lived there, but with some added royal aesthetic. I thought this part was fairly interesting because it speaks to anyone who is obsessed with royal history, especially the Tudor dynasty! It doesn’t matter what century or year it is, everyone can fall in love with the stories this castle’s walls know by heart. It may be the only living thing to know the truth about Anne Boleyn’s thoughts about everything!

I really enjoyed this book, and think if you or someone you know loves learning about royal history, you should direct them to this lovely book. It is fairly short but it is full of information!

Have you read “The Boleyns at Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Let me know below!

Book Review: “Salvation In The Sun” by Lauren Lee Merewether

Hello!

I have been interested in Ancient Egypt since I was very young, and I know I’ve said this before, but I’ve watched hundreds of documentaries over the years and even visited the King Tut exhibit at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum back in 2009! It was so amazing to see all of these treasures laid out and read about what each item meant to the boy king and the rest of Ancient Egypt too. I still wish I had a blog back then because I would have lots of material to talk about for a few months! I hope this isn’t the only exhibit I will ever visit because it was everything to me.

Now, as for this book, I wasn’t even looking for a new read; it just sort of happened by accident. I was a day away from getting another book and I decided to look up historical fiction books about different eras and places, and this one kind of popped up on the first try and I am so glad I found it because it was nice to be introduced to these figures I’ve heard about for years, and in a strange way, they became so real for me. I just can’t wait to share things with you below.


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This future she knows for certain–the great sun city will be her undoing.

Amidst a power struggle between Pharaoh and the priesthood of Amun, Queen Nefertiti helps the ill-prepared new Pharaoh, Amenhotep, enact his father’s plan to regain power for the throne. But what seemed a difficult task only becomes more grueling when Amenhotep loses himself in his radical obsessions.

Standing alone to bear the burden of a failing country and stem the tide of a growing rebellion, Nefertiti must choose between her love for Pharaoh and her duty to Egypt in this dramatic retelling of a story forgotten by time.

Salvation in the Sun is the first volume of Lauren Lee Merewether’s debut series, The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles, a resurrection of an erased time that follows the five Kings of Egypt who were lost to history for over three millennia. The story continues in book two, Secrets in the Sand.

taken from Goodreads.

I actually didn’t read the blurb so all I really knew was this was going to be the story of a pharaoh. The one hint I did get right was the word “sun” so this instantly lead me to believe we’d be discussing the origins of the Aten. Now for anyone who knows anything about Ancient Egypt, you may be familiar with the amount of different gods, goddesses, and deities and the importance of afterlife. While the book mentions a few things, it focus on the beginning of both Akhenaten and Nefertiti disbanding and creating one singular god, the sun disc, the Aten.

You start with a scene where the “current” Pharaoh and his Queen, are making the decision to basically erase everything about this time. I thought opening it up with this was very interesting! You could tell in a way that they were forced into this idea but before it happens, they discuss it out loud with the priests of Amun-Re one last time; and then we are suddenly brought to a birthing scene and we learn about a fictionized story of Queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti is a very mysterious character in general. We know very little about her, but there are records that speak about how beautiful she was and how she became regent perhaps before the boy king, Tutankhamun.

“It is a wonderful thing, to be the powerful Queen of Egypt, but it is a cursed thing.

You see the makings of a Pharaoh with Amenhotep, and although the main character is Nefertiti, he is just as important because he is the one who made the decision for everything. However, there are some features to Amenhotep that we need to discuss beforehand. Amenhotep is seen as a weakling to basically everyone of the royal family. He fights for acceptance to anyone with importance and the main person is his namesake, his father: Pharaoh Amenhotep III. There were many scenes that I thought were crucial to be understood about the mind of this person, especially after changing the main religion of the whole country. Nobody wants to be a heretic but yet he was so open to the possibly he’d make his father proud of what he was able to do as Pharaoh, but it wasn’t the only element that drove Amenhotep in general. He’s always felt unwanted and the one thing that made him feel better at all was sitting in the sun. He believed that the sun was healing him of his physical aliments and nobody likes to be told something different just because the other disagrees, I mean, trust me I deal with it all the time!

Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to expect once I started reading. but once I got started though, it became very difficult to put it aside for a long period of time, so I managed to get through pretty quickly and still ended up liking it more than I thought I would! There were parts that I found to be like in the times of King Henry VIII’s break from the Catholic faith. If you have watched The Tudors on Showtime, you might remember the contrast between King Henry at the time of choosing an entirely different God and religion to worship for his people and the power struggle for his eldest daughter Princess Mary, because she was still very Catholic and since Henry believed his marriage with Catherine if Aragon was wrong and wanted a divorce from her so he could marry Anne Boleyn. She saw her father and younger siblings as heretics, as they also saw her as one in their Protestant perspective as well!

It may seem like I had a difficult time dealing with what I’ve learned and reading the first book in the series, but honestly, I opened up to it fully. I wanted to see someone else’s “suggestions” in a way. I am finally getting better at reading historical fiction stories and I’m deeply thankful for it because I literally can’t wait to see what else could happen in Nefertiti’s story, because instead of being focused on the statue of her that I’ve grown up knowing about, I am able to see her as a real human being, dealing with life, even in ancient times, they were really alive and endured a lot of things that most people can only think about, or don’t want to think about! If you can separate what history tells you and like to explore new but familiar worlds, I think you may enjoy the rest of the series. Lauren has a wide selection of Ancient Egypt books and they’re available on Kindle Unlimited too!

Have you ever read Lauren Lee Merewether’s “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles” yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about the story of Nefertiti so far?

Book Review: “Faithful Traitor” by Samantha Wilcoxson

Hello!

Back in mid-June, my mom surprised me one night with the fact that we now had Kindle Unlimited. At first, I was happy about it but as I was attempting to go online within five minutes after reading that text message, our WiFi turned off and both of my parents were in bed asleep. I had to wait roughly nine hours for them to get up and turn it back on, but once they did I began my search for my next book. However, I wasn’t even close to finishing my previous read: “Three Dark Crowns” by Kendare Blake. I really didn’t have to wait too long because I was running through it fast as lightning!

It was rough making my decision on my next read because I really wanted to go into a non-fiction but keep the same theme I was in the month before and as soon as I saw the cover, I knew it was apart of my Goodreads long TBR; it has been on my “to be read” list since 2017 and apparently it had been released a year earlier, so yeah, I’d been waiting quite a long time to check it out for myself.


d70e8cf2ae9b321ff9264a8691b5e6b8Margaret Pole is no stranger to fortune’s wheel. From her childhood as firstborn of the heir apparent of England, she was brought low as the daughter of a traitor. After years of turmoil as the Tudor dynasty made its roots, Margaret finds favor with her cousin, King Henry VIII.

Will the remnant of the York dynasty thrive under this tempestuous king or will Margaret discover that there is a price to pay for having an excess of royal blood?

Step into Tudor England . . . .

taken from Goodreads.

Back in 2006, I was a freshman in high school and I was never into reading at all and my English teacher at the time, told all of us that if we didn’t find anything to read on Fridays that we would be forced to find something in the classroom to read, and this terrified me! So, within a week I discovered the fictional side of bookshelves, and I found out that I really enjoyed reading about people, both famous and lesser known, and I just loved seeing how people lived in certain time period and situations. So, in a way I give my former English teacher lots of credit to my love of the Tudor era.

When I first started reading this book, I thought it would be a biographical story of Margaret Pole, like when I read about her cousin Elizabeth of York by the author Alison Weir a few years ago, but in reality it is more fictionized than I had originally realized but after a couple chapters I actually grew to enjoy it this way. I haven’t had a lot of good luck staying interested in these types of books lately so, I was both concerned and thrilled at the same time!

So, the author has written this story as part of a Plantagenet series, starting with Elizabeth of York, who was at the heart of the War Of The Roses. She was a York princess that married the Lancastrian heir Henry Tudor, thus creating the beginning of the Tudor dynasty. This one is about her cousin. Elizabeth’s father was King Edward IV and Margaret’s father was his brother George, Duke Of Clarence. By the time we approach Margaret’s story, she is at home in Brockmar, with her husband Richard Pole and children: Henry, Arthur, Reginald, and Ursula after she has heard the news of her cousin’s death.

Every chapter goes by a certain month and year at the top, so unless you know your Tudor dates really well, you can keep track to the bigger moments happening. However, this is again, a fictionized tale of her life, which means some things are made up here and there, but I didn’t mind it at all.

I have always built up that wall that medieval women and girls – did the women always do what they were suppose to? Did they even bash an eye at things that maybe we would in modern times? I was basically forced to face reality and give these women more credit at shielding their true feelings. Between this book and the STARZ television series based on Philippa Gregory’s novels; I’ve tried to squash that state of mind and for Margaret, she had been through a lot in her lifetime, both good and bad moments in history, so it was much more difficult to stick to that mindset because honestly she had it rough, and I have felt very sympathic to her over in the last few years.

One thing I was a tiny bit confused was after the death of her husband, she did not want to depend on the court and her cousin King Henry VIII for the rest of her life. As she was marrying off her eldest son Henry, he was hoping a little bit too much on a role to the king and Margaret makes a point that she doesn’t want him to hope too much for that to happen. However, after his marriage, he does get promoted by the king as he turns into Lord Montague and Margaret is graced with her ancestral title Countess of Salisbury. The Countess becomes one of Catherine Of Aragon’s ladies in waiting and after the birth of Princess Mary, she turns into her governess.

It’s at this point that her role of staying out of royal affairs, especially in the aftermath of the divorce proceedings between Henry and Catherine, breaking away from the Roman Catholic church, and eventual news of Henry’s decision to make his daughter illegitimated, really makes everything go topsy-turvy for Margaret and her family. I will say, I figured that all of this would be a fast decline as far as reading, but it stayed really balanced and there was enough of the story where nothing was too chaotic in my mind. Unfortunately, I did know how things ended for Margaret in real life. So, when I got to that part, it was so incredibly sad. I was so into the story and would consider this Margaret as a friend, the downfall really made me emotional.

Now like I said in the beginning of this post, this is a series of three books and that means the next story is about Princess Mary and I’m thinking it will start at the death of Margaret since that’s how this book began, but I’m not really sure. I do want to read the other two, but if you are concerned if you need to start with book 1 and continue down the line, you really don’t have to do it that way, which I really seemed to enjoy the most.

Have you read “Faithful Traitor: The Story Of Margaret Pole” by Samantha Wilcoxson yet? Are you a lover of these types of fictionized stories about royals, whether they are current or medieval?

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Catherine Vs. Jane: The Devoted Wives

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Hello!

I love how I feel like I’m done with these versus posts until I think of another batch of people to compare their stories to a newer audience. This is one of two others I want to write sometime before the end of the year.  And after this post, we actually work our way out of talking about the Tudors! So if you’re annoyed over the fact that’s been my topic of choice, hopefully you’ll like those! Until then, we are going to discuss about Katherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s first and third wives and queens of England respectively.

I know a lot of people are freaking out that I put “Catherine” in the banner, but yet I’m still spelling it with a “K” in this post. Since Henry married three women with the same name, some people recognize her name with a “C” but since I was introduced to her as “Katherine” it’s just what I go for first, so there’s your answer to the mystery. I’m sorry if all I’ve done is confused you.

There’s a lot of speculation whether or not you can fall in love with your arranged spouse. You can find it throughout history of children being married off for different reasons, one being money. If you came from a wealthy family, there were times that the fathers or in some cases mothers would arrange a marriage with one of their daughters to be married off into another family, because they needed the dowry. This goes with Katherine of Aragon, as she was a Spanish princess, she was given to Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales. They married but instead of her returning back to Spain when he died, she stayed because Henry VII needed her dowry, so after the death of the king, she married Henry, who was now the next in line to the throne.

We’ve heard stories of Henry’s hatred for Katherine once he fell in love with Anne, but I think they actually loved each other. I mean, he would have had to love her to make her regent when he went to France in 1512 to fight in the war. A year after they had married, the wedded bliss would start to fade as they lost their first child – a daughter in 1509. Soon afterwards she became pregnant again, this time giving birth to a baby boy that they named Henry, Duke of Cornwall, but unfortunately, the little prince would die just fifty two days after his birth. I can’t imagine losing a child, especially if one was a needed heir for the Tudor dynasty and help to save the marriage to these two people.

Let’s fast forward to when Henry married Jane Seymour.

After the the marriage and beheading to Anne Boleyn was done, Henry quickly married Jane. She was a maid of honour for both Katherine and Anne. Jane’s father was Sir John Seymour and he was a courtier to Henry VIII and majority of his children also became courtiers besides Jane. One of the differences between Henry’s previous wives, was the fact that she wasn’t as educated as they were, but she was good at needlework and keeping a household, which at the time was more of a custom to women.

The other thing that made her different from both Katherine and Anne was her promise to Henry, she actually gave him a son. Their only child together would be Edward VI. After he was born, she was really sick with some type of infection and after reading about how people took care of themselves back then, I’m surprised this didn’t happen more often! After her son’s christening, she died and left Henry a broken man despite she did what nobody else could have give him.

Henry is buried next to Jane at Westminster Abbey. I do think that before his death, she was his only love despite being married to five other women and slept around with some of the ladies in waiting that probably took care of Jane as she was labor with their child and watched her die.  Whether it was only because she was the one to give him a son or the fact that he truly loved her, we’ll never know but I find this decision very interesting. I think once Jane died, I think he was fine without marrying anyone again as there is a pretty big gap between Jane and Anne of Cleves, there’s five years in between these two women. If he wasn’t so paranoid about having a spare like he was after the death of his older brother Prince Arthur, then I think he would never had continued to search for a new wife.

I think every woman that Henry came into contact with, while or after he was married, wanted to please him. Honestly, if you’re in a room with a very high up person like an official or royal, you’ll try your best not to step on their toes. I think all of his wives wanted to be there for him in some way. However, I often wonder, like probably everybody that is obsessed with this time period, is if Jane had lived would Henry still have the same feelings for her as he did after she gave birth to Edward?

Do you believe that King Henry VIII ever loved any of his wives?

If Henry, Duke of Cornwall or any of their other male children had lived, do you think Henry would have asked for a divorce from Katherine? And if Jane had lived, do you think Henry would have loved her just as much?

snowflake

 

Mary Vs. Jane: The Real Usurper

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Hi 🙂

I’m really enjoying these different history posts I’ve been doing lately. I’m not trying to do one every month but it kind of just happens. The last one about King Richard III and King Henry VII was completely accidental, I actually wanted to do this first but I needed to think about how the other post would do with my audience and so I decided to wait a bit.

Queen Mary I is the oldest daughter of King Henry VIII and Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. After Katherine declined to annual her marriage to Henry so he could marry his mistress and one of her ladies-in-waiting Anne Boleyn. She was set away from court and was forced to stay away from their daughter. They were technically still married to as he secretly wed Anne and after Katherine passed Princess Mary was then considered a bastard and lost her way to inherit the throne.

Henry had a total of six siblings, but only two of his sisters survived to adulthood. The youngest, Princess Mary was married to Louis XI of France but they didn’t last very long when he died shortly after. When she came back to England, she secretly married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk who was one of her brother’s best friends. Since they also married in secret, they had to pay a hefty fine to the King for not asking him for permission to marry. Mary and Charles had a total of four children. The only male heirs who were both named Henry died young, but daughters Lady Eleanor and Lady Frances survived to adulthood.

Lady Frances Brandon married Henry Grey, the Marquess of Dorset (who was the great-great-grandson of Elizabeth Woodville and her first first husband Thomas Grey) they had a total of three daughters themselves: Lady Jane, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary. The girls were King Henry VIII’s great-nieces and they were born into a Protestant family. Now I don’t know that much about Lady Jane Grey, only that she was put into succession in King Edward VI’s will and she was married to Lord Robert Dudley. This is all I really know of this part of her personal life.

Lady Jane Grey was the granddaughter of the sister of the former King of England and born into a Protestant family, so she had the means to keep the religion afloat until Queen Mary sent her troops into England and she arrested Jane and her husband and father for their crimes for going against the Act of Succession that clearly states that once Edward died, she would rule after him. Edward had tried to bypass this law and basically threw her into the woods. Jane is known as the “nine day queen” because she only had nine days on the throne of England. To historians, she’s the usurper because she went around the law, but I don’t see it that way.

When Henry finally had his son and kept marrying these other women to make sure he had another “male” heir in case Edward did not survive, which he didn’t and Edward died at the same age as Henry’s older brother Prince Arthur. The kingdom roughly should have went to the Lady Mary, since as Henry got older he did put both Mary and Elizabeth back in line of succession. However, something has always made me wonder, when King Henry renounced the Catholic faith, why did he put Mary back in line to the throne when he knew she still practiced the religion? Did he grow to regret his decision to create the Church of England or did he only do it, so she wouldn’t leave for Spain or France and start a war with her half brother and her homeland?

England was practicing both religions, let’s be honest about here. Lady Jane could have kept the faith but when Queen Mary came and had her killed for trying to go around the law, she brought Catholicism back. In her reign, Mary set ablaze to the Protestant martyrs and with that, she gained the nickname “Bloody Mary” because she killed over hundreds of people for not accepting the true faith. After failing to give an heir with her Spanish husband King Phillip, England went back to being a Protestant kingdom with Queen Elizabeth I as she was the daughter of the reason why King Henry VIII had renounced the religion in the first place.

So I do get the fact that Jane was put on the throne after Edward went around the Act but I doubt she wanted that role or knew what would happen to her after those nine days, but I wouldn’t call her a usurper. Mary was a devout Catholic and was going to change the religion back after her father spent so much time and effort into it. I often think even if Mary wasn’t put back in line anyways, she obviously had the resources to create an army anyways, she would have fought for that crown.

So what do you think, who is the real usurper? Lady Jane Grey or Queen Mary I? 

snowflake

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