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Edward II's Nieces: The Clare Sisters (Hardback)

Powerful Pawns of the Crown

British History P&S History Women of History Medieval 14th Century Royal History

By Kathryn Warner
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 254
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781526715579
Published: 22nd January 2020

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History Hit

An article written by the author for Dan Snow's History Hit: 'How the Clare Sisters Became Pawns of the Medieval Crown.'

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The de Clare sisters Eleanor, Margaret and Elizabeth were born in the 1290s as the eldest granddaughters of King Edward I of England and his Spanish queen Eleanor of Castile, and were the daughters of the greatest nobleman in England, Gilbert ‘the Red’ de Clare, earl of Gloucester. They grew to adulthood during the turbulent reign of their uncle Edward II, and all three of them were married to men involved in intense, probably romantic or sexual, relationships with their uncle.

When their elder brother Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, was killed during their uncle’s catastrophic defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn in June 1314, the three sisters inherited and shared his vast wealth and lands in three countries, but their inheritance proved a poisoned chalice. Eleanor and Elizabeth, and Margaret’s daughter and heir, were all abducted and forcibly married by men desperate for a share of their riches, and all three sisters were imprisoned at some point either by their uncle Edward II or his queen Isabella of France during the tumultuous decade of the 1320s. Elizabeth was widowed for the third time at twenty-six, lived as a widow for just under forty years, and founded Clare College at the University of Cambridge.

Kathryn Warner's new book details the lives of the Clare sisters, nieces of King Edward II. They were grand heiresses and one of them was, perhaps, a royal mistress. This book offers a fantastic window into the lives of noble medieval women. As usual, Kathryn Warner delivered a readable and well-researched book that I literally devoured! I'm looking forward for more titles from this author (as always).

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GoodReads, Constant Reader

Overall, I found this book intriguing and complex. By telling the story of Eleanor, Margaret, and Elizabeth de Clare as three biographies in one book, Warner presents a new perspective into the life and reign of Edward II. The Plantagenet family during this time was a closely knit web of power that had to rely on each other to survive or to fall. If you want a great book to introduce you to three fascinating sisters whose marriages during the reign of the infamous Edward II transformed England then, “Edward II’s Nieces The Clare Sisters: Powerful Pawns of the Crown” by Kathryn Warner is a wonderful place to start.

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Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

I don't know nearly enough about these medieval monarchs and the women who shaped and moulded them. This is a time that Bernard Cornwell's Dark Ages saga pre-dates by about three hundred years, and follows the invasion of William of Normandy, of course. Fascinating, fills in lots of gap in my measly knowledge of this era of British and European history!

Books Monthly

About Kathryn Warner

Kathryn Warner holds a BA and an MA with Distinction in medieval history and literature from the University of Manchester, and is the author of biographies about Edward II and his queen Isabella. Kathryn has had work published in the English Historical Review, has given a paper at the International Medieval Congress, and appeared in a BBC documentary.

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Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II Downfall of a King’s Favourite (Hardback)

Hugh Despenser the Younger and Edward II tells the story of ‘the greatest villain of the fourteenth century’, his dazzling rise as favourite to the king and his disastrous fall. Born in the late 1280s, Hugh married King Edward I of England’s eldest granddaughter when he was a teenager. Ambitious and greedy to an astonishing degree, Hugh chose a startling route to power: he seduced his wife’s uncle, the young King Edward II, and became the richest and most powerful man in the country in the 1320s. For years he dominated the English government and foreign policy, and took whatever lands…

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