Book Review: “Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York” by Samantha Wilcoxson

Hello!

I was on my Instagram stories the other day, and as I was passing through others, I saw a very small bit of Samantha Wilcoxson’s; sharing that the first book of her Plantagenet Embers series, The Story of Elizabeth of York was free for that day. In my mind, I thought it would be just like my other ‘freebies’ and store it for a later date once it was fully downloaded, but I didn’t wait to start it. I think I may have lasted about 12 hours total, which wasn’t a surprise at all. I have a strong weakness for historical fiction, especially if they discuss the Tudor dynasty.

In the midst of reading this book, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had died, and this story about another Queen Elizabeth (she was a Queen Consort, not Regent!) really helped me heal through the news of her death. I found these two women to have a similar story, they were not expected to ascend to their positions, as Elizabeth II’s father was the brother of the disgrace Edward VIII, so his younger brother Prince Albert, The Duke of York became King George VI in 1936, where his wife Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons would later become referred as “Elizabeth, The Queen Mother” as their first daughter Princess Elizabeth would eventually be title Queen Elizabeth II. She obviously didn’t want to overshadow her daughter’s own name when she inherited the throne in 1952.

For anyone out there who would like to explore the story of Elizabeth of York’s story as a nonfiction, I definitely recommend Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir, but if you should probably read something about her mother, The Dowager Queen of Edward IV and I suggest Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower by David Baldwin.


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She was the mother of Henry VIII and wife of Henry VII, but who was Elizabeth of York? Raised as the precious oldest child of Edward IV, Elizabeth had every reason to expect a bright future until Edward died, and her life fell apart.

When Elizabeth’s uncle became Richard III, she was forced to choose sides. Should she trust her father’s brother and most loyal supporter or honor the betrothal that her mother has made for her to her family’s enemy, Henry Tudor?

The choice was made for her on the field at Bosworth, and Elizabeth the Plantagenet princess became the first Tudor queen.

Did Elizabeth find happiness with Henry? Did she ever discover the truth about her missing brothers, who became better known as the Princes in the Tower?

Lose yourself in Elizabeth’s world in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen.

taken from Goodreads.

I find Elizabeth of York so fascinating! On one foot, she was born of Plantagenet blood, on the side with the “White Rose” full of Yorkists, with her father Edward VI at the head of the family and kingdom, with his common wife Elizabeth Woodville. She was their first child, and even though her parents wished for her to be a boy, she was still loved and could be a way to tighter alliances in the future of Edward’s reign, and she was brothel to a few people, the one Samantha discusses in the book was Louis, the Dauphin of France.

Elizabeth still wasn’t sure that she was ready for what she must face, but she had been given little choice.

Bess, as she was referred in the book, is a very important person in the aftermath of the Wars of The Roses, After the disappearances of her younger brothers and heirs to the throne, she has the unlucky advantage of becoming the wife to the Red Rose, the Lancastrian Henry Tudor. However, we see her in the presence of her uncle Richard’s eye at the start of the story and honestly, this arrangement could have worked, at this time she was considered a bastard, plus it wasn’t uncommon for royals to marry into their own family lines, I mean, just look into the lives of the Hapsburgs!

Another part of this though, Bess and her sister Cecily try to establish contact with their brothers who they assume are still alive and well somewhere in the country, away from court life in the thick of Richard’s reign. When Henry Tudor is proclaimed king, he and Elizabeth are married, and she gives birth to Prince Arthur, and they deal with the pretenders of the crown. Despite the fact there isn’t much about the real “Bess” opinions about politics as she wanted to be a submissive wife–the total opposite of her mother by the way!–I wonder what she really thought about these attempts of stripping her husband and son’s titles away. As a reader, it’s heartbreaking to try to decipher between her loyalty of her family, and if these men were in fact her brothers. I’m still reeling over the last paragraph of the book because it annoyed and stunned me at the same time.

The rose was white in the center and blood-red at the edges of the petals. A white York rose dipped in Lancastrian blood.

Back in 2020, I had read the second book of this series, Faithful Traitor, it was about Lady Margaret Pole, daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (who was Edward IV and Richard III’s brother and Lady Isabel Neville oldest child, and this one gives you more of an insight into the events that happen after Bess has passed away.

I am currently reading the third and final book Queen of Martyrs which is about Queen Mary I’s rise to the throne. Once I’m finished with it though, I will not be reading the novellas that go along with the other books in the series–I’ve tried to get through Once a Queen: The Story of Elizabeth Woodville and Prince of York: The Story of Reginald Pole, twice so I’ve put them in my DNF shelf (did not finish) on Goodreads. However, I do have one other book by another author on my list that discusses this time frame but on the point of view of the Lancastrian side, as it follows Lady Margaret Beaufort and her son, the first Tudor king, Henry VII. I’m aiming to get a review out towards the end of October, but we’ll see what really happens there.

Have you read “Once a Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York” or any of the other books I’ve listed above? If you have, please share your thoughts in the comments section.

snowflake

Book Review: “Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women” by Rachel Trethewey

Hello!

I did not expect to finish two books this month but I am thrilled to do so, because I’m not reading as much as I did at the start of the year, so I have been feeling discouraged about it lately. And if I am reading, I’m not going as fast either, like with this book, I began reading it during the last week of March and it was smooth sailing for a while but then once I distracted with other things, I kind of lost my mojo with it.

Something you may not know about me is that I have thought if I was alive around the time that Edward was alive, I’d probably be one of his ‘royal groupies’ honestly him and Prince Albert (King George VI) were so good looking that I often wonder what exactly happened with the recent generations! I swear I think the good looks stopped after The Queen and her sister Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. Of course, this is just my opinion on the matter!


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Wallis Simpson was the woman who stole the king’s heart and rocked the monarchy – but she was not Edward VIII’s first or only love. This book is about the women he adored before Wallis dominated his life.

There was Rosemary Leveson Gower, the girl he wanted to marry and who would have made the perfect match for a future king; the Prince’s long-term mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, who exerted a pull almost equal to Wallis over her lover, but abided by the rules of the game and knew she would never marry him. Then there was Thelma Furness, his twice-married American lover, who enjoyed a domestic life with him, but realized it could not last forever and demanded nothing more than to be his mistress.

In each love affair, Edward behaved like a cross between a little boy lost and a spoilt child. Each one of the three women in this book could have changed the course of history. In examining their lives and impact on the heir to the throne, we question whether he ever really wanted to be king.

taken from Goodreads.

I have always wondered about Edward VIII, and how he, himself, saw the monarchy in the early 1900’s. He was an odd duck as royals go, as he would rather wear polo clothes and smoke out in public than keeping the suit and tie, discreet traditions, He also had a habit with chasing women too. As you learn in this book, there were quite a few women who had his attention before he became infatuated with Wallis Simpson.

When you first start reading, the author Rachel explains that while you will learn about the three main women in Edward’s life before meeting Wallis, later you will learn more about their lives after each relationship fizzled out. The first lady is Lady Rosemary Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, as she acts as a nurse in a field hospital created by her own mother, Millicent, The Duchess of Sutherland around 1918. It was while taking care of wounded soldiers that she met the prince for the first time.

The more I was able to learn about Rosemary, the more I fell in love with her too. It is such a shame that the King and Queen refused their son’s wish to marry her because she was the ultimate woman for the king-to-be, but it also reminds you that despite being part of the upper class of nobility and well-liked throughout the royal family, even they had their standards. If it wasn’t for King Edward VII’s “secret” relationship to Rosemary’s half-aunt Daisy, Countess of Warwick (plus her blunt opinions of politics!) Rosemary would have been the perfect bride and Queen consort to the prince,

Once that relationship was over, Edward moved onto another well known lady of nobility: Freda Dudley Ward. She was the wife of William Dudley Ward, the Liberal member of Parliament (MP) and they had two daughters and you will get to know everyone, trust me. Edward’s relationship to Freda lasted for 10 years and is the bulk of the actual book.

This is where you start to see a noticeable shift personality wise with Edward, because Rachel includes the letters he wrote to the Queen, Rosemary and Freda. He leans on Freda on support not just for a sexual release. He was as invested with Freda as if they were married like a regular couple. Honestly, at first I really wasn’t a big fan of Freda, mainly because she was next in line, but as I continued reading, I ended up changing my mind. She was first and most importantly a mother in a era where the children where mostly left with nannies but she truly loved her daughters and they came before anything, including her lovers!

And then finally, we move to Thelma Furness, Viscountess Furness. My opinion of Thelma never went away, because she just seemed so self-centered compared to her counterparts. Thelma had a twin sister named Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and Thelma is the aunt to Gloria Vanderbilt and great-aunt to Anderson Cooper! After figuring this out, I was pretty much done with learning more about Thelma’s personal life.

He did not want to be a prince on a pedestal, but rather to be treated like an ordinary man.

One thing that I definitely kept in the back of my mind was when Prince Charles was starting his relationship with Camilla, before he met Lady Diana, because Camilla was already married, The Queen Mother and Lord Louis Mountbatten thought that Charles would ruin the monarchy because it was like when Edward met Wallis, as she was already divorced once in the beginning and then of course become divorced again to keep the prince. They had arranged that Prince Charles meet and talk to his paternal great-uncle The Duke of Windsor. Obviously we don’t know what was said but whether or not Edward had the same thoughts about Camilla, Charles didn’t care and perused her anyways.

The thing is, I was thinking that the book itself reminded me of Prince Charles, when he was running around with all of these women in the his 20’s and 30’s, before settling down, but honestly he made think about the royal family’s current situation with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Edward was never happy with his public persona as the first son of the king, and you could see it on his face that he seemed bored and sad in a way, and I think he acted out with his many relationships to find some normalcy in his life. We don’t know what truly goes on within the royal court and households so I actually saw the Harry and Meghan exit as senior members in a new light.

If you are interested in learning about the British royal family, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and everything else that happened from 1918-1934, this is the book for you. It was a very interesting read but I only gave it three stars because it did become somewhat boring towards the end.

Have you read ‘Before Wallis’ by Rachel Trethewey yet? If you have, what did you get out of it the most? Did your opinion(s) about the previous and/or modern royals change at all?

The Young Queens.

Howdy!

The night I was trying to figure out how to write my Queen Mary I vs. Lady Jane Grey post, I got sidetracked and started thinking about the future queens. Right now there are only two Queen Regent monarchs: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. After they both pass on, their sons will reign in their place and hopefully their grandsons after them but what you may not know is that there might be FIVE Queens in the coming years and I find that absolutely fascinating considering everybody would rather have a king than a queen, whether or not she is their wife or daughter.

I really don’t know how to really start this post, because I don’t want anybody to be confused but I thought it would be an interesting hope for the world that one day all five princesses will be on the throne of their native country someday.

I’m going to start with Spain. The reason why I want to discuss Leonor, Princess of Asturias (11) is because if her parents King Felipe VI and Queen consort Letizia have a son, Leonor will take a step back on the act of succession, like I explained in my first paragraph, Spain is one of the countries that is male preferred.

Spain has had a total of three queen regents, starting in 1479 Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile ruled together and their oldest daughter Joanna of Castile or as she’s known around the world: Joanna The Mad became Queen of Spain in 1504. After Fredinand VII died in 1833, his daughter Isabel II became the last Queen to rule in Spain until she had to abdicate the throne in 1868 to her son Alfonso XII despite the fact that he was not her first child, Isabel, Princess of Asturias was born in six years before him.

Leonor isn’t the only one that has a hefty line of Queen rulers. Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange is thirteen years old and is the heiress apparent of King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Máxima. Before her father came onto the throne, her grandmother Queen Beatrix reigned from 1980 to 2013 and she is the daughter of Queen Juliana and she herself was the daughter of the first queen of the Netherlands Queen Wilhelmina. If Catharina-Amalia does her duty, she will the country’s fourth queen.

One thing that is very similar between both Leonor, Princess of Asturias and Catharina-Amalia, Princess of Orange is that even if they don’t ascend to their thrones, they each have a sister to take their place. Infanta Sofia of Spain is only a year younger than her sister. Catharina-Amalia has two younger sisters Princess Alexia of the Netherlands, age 12 and Princess Ariane of the Netherlands, age 10.

This next princess will literally be the first Queen monarch in Belgium. Princess Elisabeth of Belgium is the oldest on this whole list. She will turn 16 later this month. Her parents came to the throne in the same year as the Dutch royals. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde ascended onto the throne after King Albert II abdicated in 2013. The Kingdom of Belgium was started with King Leopold I. He was originally a German prince prior moving to and ruling Belgium. He was first married to Princess Charlotte of Wales, daughter of King George IV. He was the uncle by marriage to Queen Victoria and an maternal uncle to her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

One of the similar things between these next two countries is that only one queen has ruled over them: Margaret I, who died in 1412, ruled over Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Princess Ingrid of Norway is thirteen and is the daughter of Crown Prince Haakon and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Merit. Now our final princess is Princess Estelle of Sweden and she is the youngest as she is only five years old. Her mother is Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, who is also the heiress apparent to the Swedish throne and Estelle’s father is Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. This hasn’t happened in Sweden before, where two future queens will take the throne back-to-back. So technically, we end this post with six future queens!

Do you find the upcoming monarchs interesting? Or are you like me and find the medieval Kings and Queens more fascinating? 

snowflake

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