Current Projects and Near Future?

Masque of Queens

In light of the fantastic experience I had at Kings and Queens 3, I come away with an even greater appreciation for the act of research and the necessity of sharing said research with others.  I was inspired by the many fantastic papers I heard and would like to work on some more projects of my own in the near future.

 

First project?  I will continue the work I presented at the conference.  I still have a few more masques of Anna’s to analyze and I have even more ideas thanks to comments and questions at the panel to inform my current work.  I’ll work on adding in ideas from Samuel Daniel’s work, “Tethys Festival or The Queen’s Wake” and then the final Anna-produced masque, “Love Freed from Ignorance and Folly.”  I’ll continue to focus on the political use of the masques as well as a literary analysis in terms of how Anna used them to self-fashion her own public image.

Masque of Queens

Masque of Queens

 

I was also particularly inspired by the work presented by Estelle Paranque, “Jezabel d’Angleterre”: Queen Elizabeth I through French eyes”  and how she used French sources to chart and analyze the reaction of the royalty and aristocracy to Elizabeth’s rise and reign.  I think it may be particularly interesting to analyze the French (or others) reaction to Anne Boleyn’s meteoric rise and catastrophic fall.  The French perspective would be, I think, the richest to focus upon because of Anne’s early ties to the French royalty.  This will also make me work on learning French, which, after this conference, I’ve learned is a necessity.  This site is one that Estelle said she used quite a bit, and I hope it’ll aid me in my research: Gallica.

Anne Boleyn Portrait

Another particularly inspirational paper, for my research, was “Scotland’s Royal Children: 1371-1528″ by Amy Hayes.  She worked on researching the lives of the children of monarchs who were not expected to inherit the throne.  This was difficult research for her as there is scant documentary evidence available.  It doesn’t seem to exist.  What I would like to do, though, is look for threads on the curriculum taught to these children and to piece together the educational programme established for the royal broods.  England will be far easier than either Scotland or Ireland, and I’d also like to add in the Danish royal family.  There are not that many (read: basically none) sources in English on the Danish royal family, but with the work I’ve done on Anna of Denmark, I would really like to see what I can do to piece together her early childhood and that of her siblings.  One key way to understand the reigns of monarchs is to understand what was taught to them as children.  I’d like to do that with Anna and her siblings to start off with and then move on to other  royal broods.

 

This is in addition to studying for the GRE (again… ugh) and getting applications in line for graduate programs!

 

 

 

Book Review: Matilda: Wife of the Conqueror, First Queen of England

Luxembourg_-_La_Reine_Mathilde

Luxembourg_-_La_Reine_Mathilde (Image Courtesy of Wikipedia)  Statue of Matilda of Flanders

 

This biography is well researched and draws upon a variety of sources.  The author, Tracy Borman, does an excellent job of taking what could otherwise be dry, lifeless text and makes it into a relatable and accessible work of prose.  The work sets up Matilda in context of her relations to her natal family as well as some of the political climate of the time.  There are plenty of examples of other ruling females from the time, which I would be keen to know more about.  However, this work seem to, at least at this point, have one major flaw: even though it is a work centered around Matilda, much of it is a revisit of historical thought on the men in her life, not on her.  This may be due to scant evidence, but I was honestly excited to find out more about her, not William, not the Bayeux Tapestry, not the Battle of Hastings… her.  While it is fascinating to see more work done on William that paints him in a more sympathetic light (instead of only a warlike and cruel invader), this central focus on this work is purportedly Matilda, not her husband.  And while the author’s gift of prose is shown in describing the Battle of Hastings in detail (as well as setting up the context of the battle, in terms of Harold, the Oath, and the battles he’d fought against Tostig just before) that brings the battle to life and helps the reader to connect with the important event… where is Matilda?  Oh, she’s at home, ruling Normandy.  Doing a bang up job of it too, which Borman does a fantastic job of relating to the reader.  Also interesting that while the Tapestry was rightfully mentioned in the book, there are other volumes that do a better job of describing in detail and research the various theories of where it was created, who commissioned it, and for what reasons.  Andrew Bridgeford’s 1066: The Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry is one such work.  Borman, after discussing the various origin stories of the Tapestry concludes that it most likely wasn’t Matilda, after all, who commissioned it or worked on it.  So, then, why spend so much time and valuable space to bring it up?

Without the filler of work on William, Matilda’s family or the Tapestry, the book would probably be 3/4 of its final length.  However, especially for a casual reader, this book is still a valuable and engaging read.  As an introduction to the world of Anglo-Saxon and Norman England, this does a fantastic job of making the peoples, ideas and political climate of the time and place relatable and interesting.

 

Rating: 4.5/5 Owls

Why Owls?  Because everyone is fond of owls, and they’re wise.