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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 May 2017
I read this book when it was first published in hardback and have read it a number of times since. Unfortunately, my eyesight finds it difficult to see the print clearly, so I had to invest in a Kindle copy. It is a wonderfully written book. Obvious copious amounts of research has been carried out by Miss. Chadwick as she does with all her books. This book show Matilda in a more sympathetic light and although she was a difficult, arrogant person, I believe she was likeable too. She fought for many years for her crown, she had to be seen as good as a man or she would never be accepted. She never was. It must have broken her heart to realise that she would never be queen, that so many people that she had loved had died for her, but she knew her son, the future Henry II, would be a king to be proud of. He was, until, like his grandfather and mother, he found delegating impossible. Thereby creating bad feeling with his strong willed wife and their Eaglets, Henry, Richard, Geoffrey and John, but that is another story. A beautifully written book. I couldn't put it down, even though I had read it several times before.
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on 4 May 2014
Beautifully written account of a period of history I was unfamiliar with. That is no longer the case. I have enjoyed the journey of Empress Maude to try and gain the crown of England. She certainly deserved it though she had to wait for her son to claim what was rightfully hers.
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on 14 June 2017
Great story from a great writer.
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on 10 March 2017
great book
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on 17 March 2014
Could not put this down. One of my favourite author's takes on a little known subject. Brilliant and engaging. Highly recommended.
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on 19 July 2017
a great read
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on 15 July 2011
Lady of the English I can never wait to get my hands on one of Elizabeth Chadwick's books, I know I am in for a treat!

Lady of the English is about two women. First of all the Empress Matilda (as she is called in this telling) and Adaliza of Louvain the second wife of Henry I. The story begins when the newly widowed Empress Matilda is called home to England by her father, after the disastrous death of Matilda's only legitimate brother. Henry has married a teenage Adaliza in hopes of siring a male heir but has been unsuccessful which is quite astounding as he is known to have had and claimed about 20 illegitimate children. At least one conceived while he was married to Adaliza.

Matilda was soon married to Geoffrey of Anjou, who was 14 nearly 15 when he married Matilda a mature woman of around 26. You can't write a story about Matilda with out writing about the Anarchy of King Stephens reign. But the political aspects, and the battles take second place to the story of these two very different women, who find they have more in common than you initially think. This is a book about the more intimate aspects of these women's lives, difficult marriages, duty, unrequited love. When Henry becomes resigned to the fact that there will be no heir except Matilda's son Henry he forces his barons to swear to uphold Matilda's right to rule. This is extraordinary because no woman has ever ruled England in her own right. Nearly all the barons were of Norman descent and French Salic law barred women from succession to the throne. I guess I have read enough about Matilda that I really didn't learn anything new about her.

I found myself more interested in Adaliza story however, mainly because her story was one that I was only slightly familiar with. Chadwick's depiction rings true showing Adaliza's pain in not being able to fulfill the duty she believed was her destiny, that being to give Henry I a male heir. Her frustration and despair is palatable, as Matilda who is vastly unhappy in her marriage begins having her children, Adaliza become resigned to the will of God. Adaliza second marriage to William d'Aubigny 1st Earl of Arundel a stanch supported of King Stephens tests Adaliza considerable diplomatic skills. She walks a fine line between her beloved husband's loyalty to Stephen and the love and loyalty that she holds for Matilda and then to Henry for she believes that the only way to peace is to see Henry on the throne of England.

Chadwick has written enough about this time period as to be proficient in the facts, customs, and culture. What makes her unique is the other aspects of her research. Her participation in the Regia Anglorum has given her insights to the tactile world that these people lived in, the foods they ate the clothing they wore. Along with her use of the Akashic Record, she is able to convey this period so adeptly that you are easily lost in the world she brings to life. E.C. in my opinion is what every writer of historical fiction should be. She doesn't defame the dead, she doesn't skue the facts. If she takes liberties she points them out honestly in her authors notes and gives her reasons for doing so. A solid 5 star read from one of the best!
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on 10 September 2014
if you love historical novels based on true accounts then this is the book for you!! A lovely romp through 12th century england ..... this book appealed to me as Matilda is my 39th G grandmother!! she was a reall tough nut!!
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on 8 April 2017
A beautifully crafted story about the conflict between two friends who end up on opposite sides in the civil war after the death of Henry 1. His daughter (who he promised the throne to) was usurped by her cousin Stephen and they spent the next twenty years pulling the country apart. Her stepmother (Henry's 2nd wife) is bound to Stephen the king through her husband but Matilda (the daughter) must fight for the throne against them until her son defeats Stephen for the throne and becomes Henry 11
A very very good read and truly interesting.
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on 30 May 2011
**Full Disclosure. I have never posted on Amazon UK before, but I have over 300 reviews posted on regular Amazon. I am posting this here because this amazing book is not yet available in the States.**

"If she thought a man was a fool, she said so to his face in front of others, and gave no quarter. She was tall, slender, beautiful, desirable. . "

This is how Empress Mathilda is described. This is the woman this novel is about. She was the daughter and the only surviving heir to Henry I. The men of England got on their knees three times in front of her and three times, swore to uphold her as their queen. When her father died, however, they upheld her cousin Stephen instead. Mathilda was enraged and thus, a battle began to retain her crown and her country for not necessarily herself, but her heirs.

The novel begins in this manner, with Mathilda arriving in England from Germany where he husband, an emperor, has died. She begins her first steps towards inheriting the throne by abiding by her father's wishes and marrying Geoffrey of Anjou. This is not a happy partnership. He is a young, arrogant whelp and her thoughts. . well, here's a quote from the brave and opinionated Mathida, "No more of an abomination than me being made to wed an idiot who is as far beneath me as a pile of dung under the sky. . You may be my husband, but you will never be my lord and master and you will never amount to anything more than a scrawny cockerel on top of your little midden heap!"

I love this woman. Nevertheless, despite her strong words, duty prevails and her and Geoffrey manage to do what they are supposed to do and they breed heirs. This makes Mathilda all the more eager to ensure that she obtains the throne of England. "She gazed down at this child whom she had not wanted to conceive because of fear, because of anger, because her life was a battleground over which she had so little control. Now the field had changed. Her fight was for him now.."

Meanwhile, Stephen takes England and offers favors left and right till the coffers run out of money. Mathilda is just biding her time and waiting for loyalty to shift and then England shall be hers. Adeliza, Henry's former queen, is between a rock and a hard place as her new hubby supports Stephen, but she believes the throne belongs to her stepdaughter, Mathilda. These two experience much love and passion fraught with friction over their opposing sides. I loved their part of tale and in the end, had to blink tears away from my eyes. I won't reveal why.

Also on Mathilda's side is her half brother Robert and and Brian FitzCount. Brian is a doll who will do anything for Mathilda. He loves her as more than a queen. Will anything come of this unspoken passion?

"Picking up his sword, he drew a shaken breath. He had to carry this through, and write his will in blood and fire, because how else was he going to be a leader of men, keep his word to Mathilda and give her a crown?"

But Mathilda can't forget that all these men who swore fealty to her, also swore fealty to Stephen when it most suited them. "She was well aware that men who knelt to her and smiled one day would as likely stab her in the back and abandon her on another." Who can she trust to stay by her side and make her once and for all, the lady of the English?

Towards the end of the novel, readers get a good look at what Henry II has the potential to become. The young Henry is full of vigor, charisma, and spunk. I found myself enamored with his character despite his mere fourteen years of age.

As usual, Chadwick manages to completely immerse the reader in medieval times. After an hour of reading, I would have to shake my head and remind myself I am Tara in Utah, not Mathilda escaping a castle in the middle of a snow drenched night clothed entirely in white, not Adeliza with a belly full of baby, burning letters in the fire. It's not solely drama, however, as Chadwick managed to inject little surprise bits of humor into the novel.
Here is Geoffrey bragging of his sexual prowess, "I am adept at hunting through forests and finding hidden streams."

A point to ponder from Miles FitzWalter, "Those who walk with their heads in the air usually don't see the s**t on the ground until they tread in it."

A LOL moment in the Author's Notes regarding the real Empress, "I also have a notion (that I can't prove) that Mathilda suffered from acute premenstrual tension and this might account for some of her sharp behaviour. A fraught political situation and a certain time of the month may just have combined to create disaster for her."

And not funny, but my favorite quote in the book from the Empress herself, "....it is twice as important that a woman should be educated, and twenty times as difficult for her to be heard."
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