Format Hardcover
Publication Date 09/06/22
ISBN 9781639362806
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 432

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Henrietta Maria

The Warrior Queen Who Divided a Nation

Leanda de Lisle

Dispelling the myths around this legendary queen, this biography of Henrietta Maria, queen consort of King Charles I, retells the dramatic story of the English Civil War from the perspective of this dynamic woman.

Henrietta Maria is British history’s most reviled queen consort. Condemned in her lifetime as the "Popish brat of France,” an adulteress, and a traitor, she remains in popular memory the wife who wore the breeches in her marriage, the woman who turned her husband Catholic (and so caused the English Civil War), and a cruel and bigoted mother.

This clear-eyed biography unpicks the myths and considers the story from Henrietta Maria's point of view. A portrait emerges of a woman whose closest friends included Puritans as well as Catholics, who crossed swords with Cardinal Richelieu, and led the anti-Spanish faction at the English court. A witty conversationalist, Henrietta Maria was a patron of the arts and a champion of the female voice, as well as a mediatrix for her persecuted fellow Catholics.

During the civil war, the queen's enemies agreed that Charles would never have survived as long as he did without the "She Generalissimo." Seeing events through her gaze reveals the truth behind the claims that she caused the war, explains her estrangement from her son Henry, and diminishes the image of the Restoration queen as an irrelevant crone. In fact, Henrietta Maria rose from the ashes of her husband's failures—a "phoenix queen”—presiding over a court judged to have had "more mirth” even than that of the Merry Monarch, Charles II.

It is time to look again at this often-criticized queen and determine if she is not, in fact, one of British history's most remarkable women.

Leanda de Lisle is the New York Times bestselling author of Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, and Murder, as well as The White KingThe Sisters Who Would Be Queen, and After Elizabeth. She has been a columnist on the Spectator, the Guardian, the Sunday Telegraph, and the Daily Express, and she writes for the Daily Mail, the New Statesman, and the Sunday Telegraph. She lives in Leicestershire, England.

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Endorsements & Reviews

"This provocative biography sweeps away old prejudices about the ‘silly’ wife of Charles I. With grace and sensitivity, de Lisle cuts through the misogyny to reveal a different Henrietta Maria. In this volume, she provides a new dimension, rehabilitating a wrongly maligned queen. Henrietta Maria's perspective allows this book to become something more than mere analysis of politics and war. De Lisle understands that history is a story of people; she possesses a visceral understanding of the emotions that swirled inside Henrietta Maria. This approach also allows a new cast of characters to emerge." The Times (London)
"Brilliantly written, mesmerising, superb scholarship and totally immersive - you feel as if you are there, the vivid scene drawing underpinned by meticulous research. Henrietta Maria is explored with de Lisle’s customary forensic focus, razor sharp intelligence and searing sympathy - and the result is a total game changer." Kate Williams, historian and author of Rival Queens: The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots.
"If the Stuarts are having their time in the sun at last, then Leanda de Lisle is one of the reasons they are. Masterful and pleasurable about a transformative century and a neglected, underestimated woman's role in it - what more can one want from history?"

Sarah Fraser, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Highlander
"Like the proverbial phoenix, Henrietta Maria is a glorious resurrection of one of the most misrepresented queens of England. A reviled figure in her day, and little better than a caricature ever after, Henrietta Maria can be compared to Marie Antoinette - except for the fact that she managed to survive her husband’s execution and live to see one of her sons crowned King Charles II. She deserves a seat in the pantheon of extraordinary women. And finally, thanks to Leanda de Lisle’s meticulous research, she has a biography worthy of her fascinating life." Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of Georgiana and A World on Fire
“Leanda de Lisle has brilliantly overturned nearly four centuries of misogynistic, religiously bigoted, and politically motivated myths about Henrietta Maria, who now emerges as a fascinating, fearless, but ill-fated woman, wife and mother. This is revisionist history at its absolute best.” Andrew Roberts, author of George III: The Life of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch
“Historian de Lisle delivers a persuasive revisionist biography of Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669). de Lisle’s accessible account identifies key players and themes and convincingly argues that Henrietta Maria has been unfairly maligned by historians. Readers will see these complex and tumultuous events in a new light.” Publishers Weekly
“Leanda de Lisle's beautifully written and endlessly fascinating new biography of Henrietta Maria brings one of the 17th century's most misunderstood women to glorious life. For far too long, Henrietta Maria has been patronized and belittled by historians as little more than an adjunct to her husband. This salutary and important book restores her to her rightful place as one of the most fascinating and important figures of her time.” Alexander Larman, author of The Crown in Crisis
Praise for Leanda de Lisle:
“Deeply researched and vibrantly accessible.” The Wall Street Journal
"Charles I has long eluded even the most scholarly of biographers; his personal contradictions, attractive qualities and ludicrous blunders require a writer of rare talent to let us appreciate the long-hidden character of the king." Andrew Roberts, New York Times bestselling author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
"Leanda de Lisle has approached one of the great icons of history with understanding and compassion. She takes her readers through the twists and turns of the English Civil War so that they understand the enormity of the regicide and the foolishness and courage of the king." Philippa Gregory, New York Times bestselling author of The Other Boleyn Girl
“Leanda de Lisle has the gift of reminding us that history is the story of real people; real men, real women, full of rage and ambition and lust and hope and love. Wonderful, passionate, dangerous, fascinating stuff. I couldn't put it down.” Julian Fellowes, creator of "Downton Abbey” and New York Times bestselling author of Snobs
“An engaging and well-sourced account, sprinkled with provocative anecdotes that will appeal to both scholars and general readers. This compelling tale is driven by three-dimensional people and relationships, and de Lisle does a fantastic job of making them feel lived and dramatic." Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A wonderfully fluent portrait of five generations that connects the often overlooked fifteenth century with the more famous stuff. In bridging this divide, de Lisle brings an entirely fresh feel to the story, reminding us of the one thing the monarchs themselves wanted us to forget: the sheer improbability of their royal rule.” The Times (London)
“Enjoyable, well-written. De Lisle examines the key events and characters that make the story interesting. This is a very well-done popular history ideal for general readers.” Booklist
"Leanda de Lisle uses hitherto unknown manuscripts to offer a sympathetic interpretation of the character of Charles I that is more nuanced than previous treatments thanks partly to a highly original account of his much-maligned queen, Henrietta Maria." Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, professor of history,University of Virginia, and author of The Men Who Lost America
“Marvelous. The book renders sufficiently broad strokes of macro history but is also microscopically filled with careful archival detail only the best historians can dig up and make come alive almost effortlessly. Incisive, razor-sharp writing. A polished biographical gem. It will be definitive for a long time." Patrick Hunt, author of Hannibal
"By the end of the book, I was sure that this was one of the best books on Charles I yet written. De Lisle certainly does know how to write strong, compelling narratives. Her best—and vital—talent, is perhaps her commendable ability to see the whole picture, the shades of grey." Andrea Zuvich, author of A Year in the Life of Stuart Britain for The Seventeenth Century Lady
"De Lisle brings the figures surrounding Charles I to life with the strident confidence that accompanies the historian who fully understand their subject. A well-written and impeccably researched biography. Seeks not to revise the history of England's Civil Wars, but uncover the truth hidden beneath the grime of centuries of propaganda and myth." Adrienne Dillard, author of the bestselling Cor Rotto: A Novel of Catherine Carey
“De Lisle's beautifully written and endlessly fascinating new biography of Henrietta Maria brings one of the seventeenth century's most misunderstood women to glorious life. For far too long, Henrietta Maria has been patronised and belittled by historians as little more than an adjunct to her husband. This salutary and important book restores her to her rightful place as one of the most fascinating and important figures of her time.” Alexander Larman, author of The Crown in Crisis
“A British historian and journalist takes a fresh look at the famed Bourbon queen. In her latest royal portrait, de Lisle offers an entertaining, convincing reevaluation of her subject, Henrietta Maria (1609-1669). de Lisle does a fine job, emphasizing Henrietta Maria’s energetic partnership, during which she sold her jewels and art to buy arms abroad, organized their shipment to Britain, and exercised diplomatic skills—undoubtedly superior to her husband’s—in an ultimately futile cause.” Kirkus Reviews
“Leanda de Lisle has brilliantly overturned nearly four centuries of misogynistic, religiously bigoted and politically motivated myths about Henrietta Maria, who now emerges as a fascinating, fearless, but ill-fated woman, wife and mother. This is revisionist history at its absolute best.” Andrew Roberts, author of George III: The Life of Britain's Most Misunderstood Monarch
“This is popular history of the finest kind: vivid, immediate, well-researched, and telling a compelling story. It is also serves the first duty of biography, by making its subject more wholly understandable than before.” Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon
"This is such a great pairing of biographer and subject. With supreme skill and style, Leanda de Lisle provides not only a welcome revision of Henrietta Maria's reputation, but also a revival of her fierce energy and a reanimation of the entire age. A superb and vital biography." Jessie Childs, author of The Siege of Loyalty House