Written by Ellis Ian Fields
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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

image for History Review: She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, by Helen Castor

Before Elizabeth I became the iconic 'Virgin Queen' four women ruled England in what was very much a man's world. Medievalist Dr Castor examines their stories.

Ken Lucid writes.

So. OK? I'm doing a book about women. Satisfied?

I'm not kidding you, round here it's "women this, women that." It's not enough that we include the feminine side in our various modules and courses, we have set aside whole modules to the feminine.

So, like, we can't just do "Bismarck, Little Germans and the Unification of Germany." Oh no! We have to have something called "Bismarck's Distaff: Women and the Unification."

I don't know - you try and put together an hour's lecture on Clara Schumann and the struggle against Austria-Hungary!

And it's not even enough that you tell a bunch of uninterested undergrads about the downfall of Napoleon III and the Second Empire thanks to Bismarck's plans. The sisterhood wants to know what happened to Empress Eugenie! Why? "She went to live at Farnborough and then Chislehurst... OK?"

Strewth!

Anyway, this young historian is a Fellow at Sidney Sussex, Cambridge, and she knows how to tell a story. It's not my period, but she seems to know what she's talking about.

Might look her up next time we're at the same conference.

Oh yeah - the women in the book are Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella (Edward II's wife) and Margaret of Anjou. What happened to Bloody Mary?

Ken Lucid is Professor of Modern History at the University of Thames Valley East.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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