Book Review – ‘Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey’ by Jennifer C. Wilson


On hallowed ground… With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic. Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn’t all tempers and tantrums. Poets’ Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages. With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace? [Description from Amazon UK]

Kindred Spirits #3

Another great novel from Jennifer Wilson. I absolutely adore this series, and I’m really hoping for a book eventually set around Windsor with Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. I think that would be great. I did thoroughly enjoy this installment in the series though because there were so many different characters from different periods coming together and it was interesting to see how those relationships developed.

This one focuses on the kings and queens, and literary and scientific minds buried or commemorated at Westminster. I loved the developing relationship between Richard III and Henry VII and I understand that this is explored more in the fourth book in the series based in York. As for the relationship between Mary I and Elizabeth I, I can imagine that this is actually how the two would have been in real life had they been raised as siblings rather than rivals for the throne. All siblings argue and fight, but these two took it to the next level.

It’s history but not as we know and Wilson’s knowledge of and passion for medieval and early modern history is obvious as she brings historical figures into the present, without losing the sense of who they were in their own time. One of my favourite moments was when Anne of Cleves snuck onto the Abbey computer to alter her Wikipedia page and any references to ‘Flander’s Mare’, and the reappearance of Richard III, who I loved in ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’.

This series is so unique, and very cleverly done. You can tell that a great amount of research has gone into the book, as there are little titbits of historical fact, as well as the ghosts trying to dispel, or arguing about, rumours swirling about their lives. It’s really interesting to read and imagine what these historical figures would think about how we view them today, and what they would make of today’s world, incredibly distant from what they knew in their lives. I want more, please, Jennifer!?

Another bonus is that is was written by an author who lives in the same area as me! Well-written and worth a read for anyone with an interest in historical fiction, or historical ghost stories, rumours and a bit of humour thrown in!

She Wolves – Episode 2 – Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou 14.03.2012


Isabella of France 15th Century Portrait
Isabella of France 15th Century Portrait

1308 Isabella of France became Queen of England age 12
Little more than a pawn in power plays between England and France
Isabella and Margaret both known as the “she wolves of France”
Isabella daughter of the King of France – living embodiment of the treaty between England and France, keen sense of her own majesty
What she found different to what she expected
First public appearance – coronation
Piers Gaveston carried the king’s crown into the abbey and sat with him at the coronation feast
Her place at Edward II’s side had been taken by Gaveston
Edward had given some of the wedding presents to Gaveston from the French nobles
Three people in the marriage
King’s relationship with his nobles was souring because of his relationship with Gaveston – king offers leadership and security and nobles protect the realm
Nobles don’t think the king is doing what he should Continue reading “She Wolves – Episode 2 – Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou 14.03.2012”

Why Did Thomas Wolsey Fall from Power in 1529?


Cardinal Wolsey by an unknown artist c.1520 from the National Portrait Gallery.
Cardinal Wolsey by an unknown artist c.1520 from the National Portrait Gallery.

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was Henry VIII’s chief minister from his accession in 1509 until his dramatic fall in 1529. The reasons for this sudden fall are hotly debated amongst historians – was it his inability to give Henry VIII a divorce from Katherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn? Or was it that the nobility were jealous of Wolsey’s huge amount of power and influence? Or was it just bad luck? At what point did his fall become inevitable? These ideas will be discussed in the following short essay.

The issue of Henry VIII’s divorce or “great matter” has taken over the history of this period. This and the break with Rome seem to almost characterise the Tudor dynasty. However, there was so much more to it than fame. Henry VIII’s desire for Anne Boleyn brought down his chief minister, and led to England’s division from the Papacy in Rome. It also led to the idea that a king could marry for love. Continue reading “Why Did Thomas Wolsey Fall from Power in 1529?”

My Notes from Episode 2 of ‘The Plantagenets’ Shown on BBC 24.03.2014


Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey
Henry III funeral effergy in Westminster Abbey

1219 William Marshall regent of 11 years old Henry III. King John had lost most French lands. Marshall dying.
Next 150 years – parliament born and English national identity established. New English empire.
Plantagenet ancestral homelands lost. Choice between England and France.
Henry III pious. 1245 building improvements to Westminster Abbey in French style dedicated to Edward the Confessor (only English king to be canonised). Dynastic ambition – Abbey as site of future coronations and burials. Expensive.
Pope invited Henry to buy Sicily – 3 times his annual income. Defaulting on a payment meant excommunication.
Backfired = pitted the royal family against the English barons.
Henry III filled the court with relatives from parts of France – hostile barons and national feeling.
April 1258 barons confronted the king and demanded the removal of French relatives.
Reforming legislation = committee of 24 ‘provisions of Oxford’, shared power with barons. Limitations of royal power – parliament.
King lost touch with people.
Continue reading “My Notes from Episode 2 of ‘The Plantagenets’ Shown on BBC 24.03.2014”

UPDATE: English Monarchs and When They Ruled


This post is an update on a previous post. Instead of just listing the monarchs and consorts and when they ruled I have also listed the legitimate children of each union and their title.

William I (1066 – 1087) … Consort – Matilda of Flanders

Children – Robert, Duke of Normandy d. 1134

Richard d. 1075

William II d. 1100

Henry I d. 1135

Adelaide d. 1113

Cecily d. 1127

Matilda d. 1086

Constance, Duchess of Brittany d. 1090 Continue reading “UPDATE: English Monarchs and When They Ruled”

English Monarchs and When They Ruled over England


This is a post which I compiled last year: it includes the dates and consorts of all English and British monarchs. I was intending to also list children but haven’t yet got around to it. I’ll update the post at a later time.

(Becomes Great Britain under the reign of Queen Anne 1702 – 1714)

(Becomes United Kingdom under the reign of George III 1760 – 1820)

William I (1066 – 1087) … Consort – Matilda of Flanders

William II (1087 – 1100) … Consort – None

Henry I (1100 – 1135) … Consort – Matilda of Scotland / Adeliza of Louvain

Stephen (1135 – 1141) … Consort – Matilda of Boulogne

Empress Matilda (1141) … Consort – Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor / Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou

Henry II (1154 – 1189) … Consort – Eleanor of Aquitaine Continue reading “English Monarchs and When They Ruled over England”