Review: Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir

Rating: 3 out of 5

I’m one to like a good narrative history, especially of the earlier medieval times in England. However, this book suffered from random jumps in content. I can vividly remember a rather long section on the way bedchambers were set up, for example. It felt, in the majority, that as the queens that the book treated — three Matilda’s and one Maude — have so few facts to describe them, that Ms Weir had to resort to desperate measures to pad out the book.

That said, there was some genuinely interesting content in this (definitely not the bedchamber construction and set-up), but bits of information which dealt with the power these queens may have actually wielded. Regrettably, there did not seem to be a systematic comparison of these numbers (if Matilda of Flanders witnessed X out Y charters and Matilda of Scotland Z out of W, which one was relatively more involved in the workings of the state) which I would have liked.

Yet, I guess this is the best that can be done. I wish it hadn’t been so padded, but Ms Weir is a professional and if she didn’t find more information to characterise the queens, one should think there is little else to say. One should rather be grateful that as little conjecture as possible was engaged in and what we get is a solid narrative history.

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