The original Queen of Hearts

The deck of cards was probably introduced to England in the late 14th century, immediately rivalling the popularity of old games of chance like dice. Whilst playing cards were absolutely nothing new – the ancient Egyptians used to play them – the standardised ‘suits’ of hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs that we’d recognise today was adopted […]

“Tiny scrap of humanity”: The love match of Richard II

On a miserable January day in 1382 the boy-king Richard II took to wife the daughter of the late Holy Roman Emperor, sister to the King of Bohemia, a young girl named Anne. Anne was a girl of modest beauty and no fortune, Richard’s court and subjects were openly hostile to the match. The Westminster […]

Lizzie Woodville has got everybody Googling…

Every time I check my website’s dashboard stats, I’m more and more surprised by the number of The White Queen/Elizabeth Woodville searches that have directed web-users to this website, specifically my constantly trafficked (and in some cases, plagiarised, naughty naughty…) post on the real White Queen. In the interests of being helpful, I thought I would […]

Hidden historical heroines (#32: Eleanor Cobham)

Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester (c.1400 – 7 July 1452), was the mistress and then second wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Henry IV. Eleanor was convicted and imprisoned for ‘sorcery’ and ‘treasonable necromancy’ in 1441 and forced to make a public penance in the streets of London – all […]

The chilly coronation of Henry V

Today in History: 9th April 1413  Right now, in the UK, the weather is all that anyone seems able to talk about. “It’s snowing!” people keep telling me, like I don’t have eyes, shaking their heads incredulously. “In April. It’s April!” My Facebook newsfeed is populated with pictures of limp, grey snowmen and effusions of […]

The White Queen: Elizabeth Woodville

I can’t quite delude myself that Elizabeth Woodville is a “Hidden Historical Heroine” – plenty of people will have heard about her – a number set to increase this spring when the BBC debuts its television adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Queen, a fictionalised account of Elizabeth’s life. But before Philippa’s unnecessarily sexed-up […]

England’s “Black” Queens

  When you consider historical Queens of England, you probably picture sumptuous dresses, ropes of jewels, tumbling fair or chestnut curls and peaches-and-cream complexions. Would it surprise you to know that two queens of England are now considered by some historians and genealogists to have had “black” or Moorish ancestry? Interestingly, the two ladies – […]

Hidden historical heroines (#14: Eleanor de Clare)

  Eleanor de Clare (3 October 1292 – 30 June 1337) was a granddaughter to Edward I of England, joint heiress to the vast de Clare estates and the wife of the powerful, infamous Hugh Despenser the Younger.   Eleanor was born in Caerphilly castle in south Wales. Her father was Gilbert ‘the Red’ de […]

Hidden historical heroines (#09: Joanna Plantagenet)

  Joanna Plantagenet of England (October 1165 – 24 September 1199) was the seventh child of Henry II of England and his infamous queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine. During the course of her life she was a Princess of England, the Queen of Sicily and the Countess of Toulouse.   Being the youngest of the […]

Hidden historical heroines (#01: Joan of Kent)

  Joan of Kent (1328 – 1385) was a granddaughter of Edward I. She was lauded by her contemporaries as the most beautiful woman in all of England and is known to history as the Fair Maid of Kent.   When she was just a babe in arms, her father – the Earl of Kent […]