Podcast Review: Queens of England

As mentioned previously, I'm a little obsessed with Renaissance English history. I've recently expanded that interest to medieval English history as well, through the excellent Queens of England podcast.

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The hilarious and dry-witted James Boulton starts back around 1031 with Matilda of Flanders and just keeps moving through medieval times to the War of the Roses and now is slowly working his way through the many wives of Henry VIII. He also has several supplemental podcasts analyzing the queens of literature and TV, such as Queen Guinevere of the Arthurian legends and the queens of Tolkien and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. 

Matilda of Flanders. Legit Badass who defied her husband to provide financial support to her firstborn, not once, but twice!

Matilda of Flanders. Legit Badass who defied her husband to provide financial support to her firstborn, not once, but twice!

My favorite section of a podcast ever is when he relates an incident in the life of Matilda of Flanders where she pleaded with her husband (who you may have heard of - William the Conquerer?) for forgiveness for providing support to her traitorous first son by noting:

"This is absolute gold for historians. It shows a queen both acknowledging the perceived weakness of her sex but also her power. It shows how a queen could use her own wealth to pursue her own goals, but also how important it was for this to be sanctioned by her husband, further confirming that queens had real power and authority, but this had to be granted from the king. William, ignorant of all the excitement of all the modern historians around him, heard only his wife's shocking defiance of his wishes."

"But Rachael," You may ask. "What does this have to do with marriage?" I'm glad you asked. Though the podcast itself is not specifically dedicated to marriage, by definition, it's almost completely about married women, Queens Consort (there are a few supplements dedicated to mistresses and there was really only ever one unmarried Queen Regnant in the form of Elizabeth I). The host in each episode looks at several characteristics desired in an English Queen to determine how successful the queen actually was: fertility, piety, financial or social advantage from her own background/family, and her steadying influence on the king and his court. It's really quite fascinating. 

And frankly, plenty of these women were total badasses. They had to work within the limitations of their gender at the time to achieve their goals, and many of them were absolutely fierce. See: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Matilda of Boulogne, and Margaret of Anjou. Listening to this podcast is absolutely inspiring!

Eleanor of Aquitaine. Badass queen twice over (of France, then of England) who went on Conquest when it wasn't cool for women to do that, gave birth to two Kings, survived 15 years in captivity, outlived almost everyone around her, and generally was the best

Eleanor of Aquitaine. Badass queen twice over (of France, then of England) who went on Conquest when it wasn't cool for women to do that, gave birth to two Kings, survived 15 years in captivity, outlived almost everyone around her, and generally was the best

You can find Queens of England podcast anywhere you find podcasts as well as on the podcast's website and Facebook.