Schemers and dreamers; sinners and saints – the five queens depicted in this new biography by prolific writer, Alison Weir, could lay claim to each of those descriptors and many more. In this ambitious work, Weir probes the lives of the women who helped lay the foundations of England as we know it. In doing so, she brings to life the intrigues that shaped their world.
I’ve always preferred Weir’s narrative non-fiction over her novels and Queens of the Conquest proved true to form. She makes heavy subject matter interesting and engaging. True, it is difficult to keep the Matilda’s straight (there are three queens, plus the several daughters named for them), but that’s to be expected in the era covered and it detracts in no way from the story-line.
In an effort to include all existing information on the queens, Weir often posits conflicting information regarding the details of their lives – number of children, personalities, events, etc. There is also quite a bit of conjecture – Queen so-and-so could have, possibly, perhaps. While I would normally reject so much unprovable content, it is to be expected in a work covering such early years. This time period was nearly a century ago, it’s not surprising that so little can be said with absolute certainty. This is the time period I know least about, so I can’t comment at all upon the accuracy, but this work seems to have much more comprehensive reference notes than I’ve seen from Weir in the past. Hopefully, this is a new trend.
Queens of the Conquest is a worthy read and I look forward to future installments coming in this series.