|On Hist Fic Saturday|
Let's go back to ....1049-1068
31 May 2018
My thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book
There's something about reading good historical fiction that feeds my soul, and opening The Conqueror's Queen is rather like climbing into a superior time travel machine, pressing the button for the eleventh century and then stepping out into an uneasy world where kings, and their thrones, are lost amidst the mayhem and slaughter of a battlefield.
The story of the Norman Conquest is enshrined in our history, we know that William of Normandy sailed with his band of loyal supporters and an army of foreign mercenaries, and in 1066, at the Battle of Hastings, forcibly took the throne from Harold Godwinson, the last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings. That William was a powerful and dangerous opponent is without doubt, but as the saying goes, behind every powerful man is an equally strong woman.
As the niece and granddaughter of the Kings of France, Mathilda of Flanders initially considered marriage to William, the illegitimate Duke of Normandy, to be beneath her and her fury at her father’s insistence on the marriage sets the scene nicely and gets the story off to an exciting start. The Conqueror's Queen is so beautifully descriptive of the Norman court that I felt completely at ease with Mathilda as she learned to negotiate the volatile world she had married into, and her astonishment in discovering that the mercurial man she now called husband, had a sensitive side, helps to make her story all the more captivating.
Cleverly combining historical fact with fiction certainly brings the story of William and Mathilda’s long and eventful marriage to life in a believable way, and such is the passion between them that the pages fairly sizzled with the dynamics of their relationship. However, the story is about so much more than their romantic attachment, it’s the story of intrigue and danger, of planning and plotting and of an absolute belief that the throne of England had been promised to William in the winter of 1051 in an auspicious meeting in London between him and King Edward the Confessor. The author, with impeccable research, allows us an insightful look into this fascinating medieval world, and brings to glorious life the events leading up to William’s invasion of England, whilst at the same time allowing us a glimpse into the action-packed life of Mathilda, the Conqueror’s Queen.
The Conqueror's Queen now completes The Queens of Conquest Trilogy which began with the story of Edyth of Wessex who married Harold Godwinson, followed by Elizaveta of Kiev who married Harald Hardrada. Each of the books can be read as stand-alone stories however, all follow the common theme of bringing to life the strong women who stood proudly alongside the men who shaped the early part of our history.
Joanna Courtney is fascinated by defining moments in history, of which the Battle of Hastings is certainly one, the outcome of that momentous day is one of the big what ifs? of England's past and she has loved being able to immerse herself in the Anglo-Saxons,Normans and Vikings whilst writing the The Queens of Conquest trilogy.