Heroines Of the Medieval World is a book written by Sharon Bennet Connolly, the author of the blog called History.. The Interesting Bits! I was really looking forward to reading and reviewing this one because I have been following Connolly’s blog and work for quite some time now. It has been a pure joy watching her blog grow into what it has become.
Sharon Connolly is an amazing writer, researcher, and historian. I am always astounded by the depth she is capable of going in her writing. The articles she writes are always accurate, well thought-out, and researched. The enthusiasm Connolly has for history clearly shows throughout the writing. She manages to always make even the smallest of things interesting to read about. To say I was excited to give Heroines Of The Medieval World a read would be an understatement! Below is my full review of her book.
I would like to begin this book review by going over the many things I absolutely loved about it then diving into some things as a reader, I would have preferred to have been different. The reasons I read are numerous but the biggest two are to be taken outside myself into a journey I would never experience and to learn things about the past. This book delivered this to me on a golden platter. Instantly I was sucked into the stories of the women who lives were complicated, difficult, and fascinating. It was great to learn about what life was like for these women and how they did their best to handle things.
The level of detail brought into this book about medieval women was something that left me very satisfied especially since as a reader, there has been books I have read who didn’t quite cut it. They brought me nothing new. My knowledge about different people in history is fairly extensive but even I learned more about those I have already read about such as Eleanor of Aquitaine; however, that wasn’t even what delighted me the most. The fact this book had many women from history I have not read about or only had limited knowledge of such as Joan of England, Isabel MacDuff, and Joan Beaufort.
It was refreshing to have something new being brought to the table and not the same stuff I have read too many times before with these types of books. I found it encouraging not only as a reader but as someone who is striving to be a writer that captures the interest, love, and knowledge of readers. The goal is always to bring value and Connolly never fails in doing just exactly that and is the kind of writer I admire so very much. She is someone that a person like me can learn a lot from. A true gem whose brilliance is awe inspiring.
The ladies written about were all very entertaining and quite inspiring. There is so much I didn’t know and I feel that after reading about their lives I can say I have a much better picture of the medieval world, marriages, birth, childrearing, and politics that went into running western Europe. This book just put in place more pieces of the ever growing puzzle in my mind and made the period all that much clearer in such an engaging way.
While reading Connolly’s novel, there wasn’t a lot of boredom, which admittedly can sometimes happen when reading books, especially academics ones. The language and descriptions can be too long. very complicated, and become dull. Some books can just put you to sleep with their drudgery style of writing. This wasn’t the case. Connolly’s style flows very nicely throughout the entire book and her transitions aren’t too bad. Everything is clear, concise, easy to read, and quite enjoyable. It doesn’t take much to stay interested and engaged while reading this book or her articles from the website.
Now, for what I didn’t care for so much … This may come down to just my own personal taste and preferences but the book is not in chronological order which I would have preferred as a reader. I always enjoy following a timeline when it comes to books covering multiple people and periods in their lives. It may be I am just such a dunce at following dates and geography that a story being in order allows me to have a better picture in my head of the where and when that is taking place. It adds to flow in my opinion.
Now with that said, I wouldn’t say that it detracted from the interest and value I received from the book as a reader. It just would have been slightly easier in my head to follow a trajectory of a timeline going in order. I would have also liked to see perhaps individuals in their own chapters versus going from one paragraph into a new person the next paragraph; however, with that said, I truly found her transitioning between women and events to be extremely smooth. As a reader, I had no trouble following that and could see the relevance which is very important to me. Connolly wasn’t just going from one women to the next blindly. The transitions were well thought out and I could right away see the relevance and point to them each time. She had a plan for the flow of this book and how she wanted to tell their stories and executed it flawlessly. A 5 out 5 stars for me.
These are the stories of women, famous, infamous and unknown, who shaped the course of medieval history. The lives and actions of medieval women were restricted by the men who ruled the homes, countries and world they lived in. It was men who fought wars, made laws and dictated religious doctrine. It was men who were taught to read, trained to rule and expected to fight. Today, it is easy to think that all women from this era were downtrodden, retiring and obedient housewives, whose sole purpose was to give birth to children (preferably boys) and serve their husbands.
Heroines of the Medieval World looks at the lives of the women who broke the mould: those who defied social norms and made their own future, consequently changing lives, society and even the course of history. Some of the women are famous, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was not only a duchess in her own right but also Queen Consort of France through her first marriage and Queen Consort of England through her second, in addition to being a crusader and a rebel.
Then there are the more obscure but no less remarkable figures such as Nicholaa de la Haye, who defended Lincoln Castle in the name of King John, and Maud de Braose, who spoke out against the same king’s excesses and whose death (or murder) was the inspiration for a clause in Magna Carta.Women had to walk a fine line in the Middle Ages, but many learned to survive – even flourish – in this male-dominated world. Some led armies, while others made their influence felt in more subtle ways, but all made a contribution to their era and should be remembered for daring to defy and lead in a world that demanded they obey and follow.
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