First line: In the sixteenth century the English historian John Foxe looked over his shoulder at the great sweep of the near, and distant, past.
Summary: Dan Jones’ newest history of the medieval ages covers the period from the end of the Roman empire to the rise of Protestantism. He covers major players, battles and nations giving his readers a look into a world that was constantly changing.
My Thoughts: Dan Jones is a wonderful historian. He covers many of the people and time periods that I am interested in. He makes his topics easy to read and learn from. This one was no different. I know some about the Middle Ages from other readings of authors like Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory but this gave me much more of an insight into other parts of the world than just England.
He brought in major players like Genghis Khan, who I knew very little about. Learning about this warlord’s life before and his rise to power was all new to me. I never really think about how Asia and Europe had lots of interactions during this time due to the crusades and religion.
And during the chapter on the crusades they even mentioned something I had never heard about but was related to my family history. There was a Wendish Crusade where powers in Germany against a Slavic group called the Wends. My Pohlenz family were part of the Wendish community in Germany and lived in heavily populated Wendish towns in Nebraska after emigrating. I had never heard of this crusade against them but I instantly had to read more about this little known piece of history.
Jones does a great job of laying out his storyline. He goes chronologically but breaks each time into important factors like crusaders, knights, Arabs, Mongols, merchants and more. It gave me a feeling that the time was definitely broken into different parts and governed by these persons for their span of time but as the world changed so did the leaders of the time.
FYI: A concise but wide spread look at a time that covers hundreds of years. Great for people looking to learn more about the Middle Ages.
First line: On Sunday, 19 December 1154, Henry II, the first Plantagenet King of England, was crowned in Westminster Abbey, along with his Queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, amidst great splendor and rejoicing.
Summary: In the second installment of Alison Weir’s histories of the queens of England is Queens of the Crusades. It covers Eleanor of Aquitaine, Berengaria of Navarre, Isabella of Angouleme, Alienor of Provence and Eleanor of Castile spanning their lives over several centuries. These women lived in an age when they were expected to be humble and pious. But the queens of this time held power over their lands and income that drew the ire of their male subjects giving several of them tarnished reputations that Weir tries to dissolve.
My Thoughts: I enjoyed learning about these remarkable women. I love Eleanor of Aquitaine. She is one of my favorite queens of England. She lived for such a long time and was queen of France and England as well as duchess of Aquitaine. I was very excited to learn more about her daughter-in-law, Berengaria. She is glossed over so much in fiction since she was queen for such a short time and did not do much to gain prominence in England.
I like that Weir takes into account how often names are reused for different people that she tries to vary the spellings in order to keep them straight for the reader. I knew nothing about the queens after Eleanor. The amount of wealth these women had and spent is astounding. I love to see what the conversions are because it is so shocking.
Having visited England several times I have been to some of the places listed such as Westminster Abbey. I knew many of the tombs there but now I will need to find the ones for these medieval queens on my next visit.
FYI: Second installment of a four part series. Part one was Queens of the Conquest.
First line: I bear ad deep red stain that runs from my left
shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison
that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.
Ismae is forced into an arranged marriage. However, when her new
husband sees the scars on her body, he knows that she has been cursed.
She escapes before he can kill her and flees to the convent of St.
Mortain. Upon arrival she learns that she has a special gift. If she
wants to stay they will train her to use that gift and become an
assassin for the god of death.
My Thoughts: Medieval.
Assassin. Nuns. Yes please! I have been meaning to read this book for
years. Recently I bought a copy of it and finally decided it was time to
dive in. I enjoyed it from the very first page. It was a fast story
with great characters and an intriguing plot. I like that the author
wove actual historical events into the story making it almost seem
It is always fun seeing girls kick butt and take
names. This story does just that. Ismae has a gift that allows her to
survive poisons but she is also skilled in weaponry and deception.
Several other girls from the convent are mentioned but not much is done
with their stories. I hope that the next books dive into their stories. I
cannot wait to see what happens next!
FYI: This is book one in a trilogy.