Wednesday, December 26, 2007
iPod Bookshelf: ISABELLA, SHE WOLF OF FRANCE, QUEEN OF ENGLAND
I was really surprised to see that this book has low ratings on Amazon. Sure, there are only three reviews, but...still. I thought this was a pretty great book, full of fascinating historical facts, whereas other readers think it was boring.
I'll tell you why I like this one, and it actually might have more to do with Isabella's story itself than the book. You might've heard of Isabella because of her portrayal in BRAVEHEART. That's the only reason I knew of her. (She was the pretty princess married to the prince--Edward II--who preferred male company? And she had sex with Mel Gibson? And she gloooowed afterward? Come to find out, this portrayal used some major fictional license.) I was also drawn to the subject because of the infamous UGH-I-CAN'T-BELIEVE-I-JUST-HEARD-THAT death of Edward II and Isabella's supposed part in it: he was said to have suffered the invasion of something like a hot poker up his rectum, which toasted his innards.
Yes, I choose my literature on a pretty intelluctual basis, don't I?
However, in Alison Weir's book, she asserts the hot-poker story is a lie created by historical revisionists who set out to discredit Isabella years down the road. Actually, Weir, herself, seems determined to clear Isabella's name by laying out a tale of a French princess who was married very, very young to a guy who, in fact, did have a predilection for male "favorites." Edward allowed his heart to overrule his head and gave these favorites too much power, which resulted in the anger of earls and barons. Basically, dude was a terrible king, and when he went too far in preferring one favorite over Isabella, she went back to France, gathered an army led by powerful men Edward had expelled from Britain, then came back and whooped her hubby's arse. Yup, she and her own lover took over the throne and ruled through her son, Edward III.
Weir is a thorough researcher, and I enjoyed her writing enough to get another book of hers--INNOCENT TRAITOR, which details the short life of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey. If you're in the mood to read about a strong woman in times of olde, Isabella is a bombshell for you.