An exhilarating, accessible chronicle of the ruling families of France and England, showing how two dynasties formed one extraordinary story
The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a time of personal monarchy, when the close friendship or petty feuding between kings and queens could determine the course of history. The Capetians of France and the Angevins of England waged war, made peace, and intermarried. The lands under the control of the English king once reached to within a few miles of Paris, and those ruled by the French house, at their apogee, crossed the Channel and encompassed London itself.
In this lively, engaging history, Catherine Hanley traces the great clashes, and occasional friendships, of the two dynasties. Along the way, she emphasizes the fascinating and influential women of the houses—including Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castille—and shows how personalities and familial bonds shaped the fate of two countries. This is a tale of two intertwined dynasties that shaped the present and the future of England and France, told through the stories of the people involved.
Catherine Hanley is a writer and researcher specializing in the Middle Ages. She is the author of Matilda, Louis, and War and Combat 1150–1270, and is a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology.
“Catherine Hanley’s engaging account of England and France during the 12th and 13th centuries covers a turbulent period bookended by the accession of Henry I (after the suspicious death of his brother William Rufus) and the marriage of Edward II to Isabella of France (she would later be implicated in his murder). Much of what comes in between reads like the plot of a soap opera peopled by larger-than-life characters.”—Katherine Harvey, Sunday Times
“Written with verve and based on impeccable scholarship, Two Houses, Two Kingdoms is peppered with human stories about the struggle to maintain a dynasty.”—Helen Carr, Times Literary Supplement
“Epic in scope but intimate in focus, this is an authoritative overview of a pivotal period in the development of both nations.”—BBC History Revealed
“Enormous fun. . . . Hanley’s book contains many lively vignettes. . . . Hanley is also excellent on medieval warfare, obviously a passion, and very good on the few women who were far more than ciphers.”—Claudia Gold, Literary Review
“Dr Hanley is undoubtedly an impressive historian, who also writes the occasional medieval murder mystery. This book might be said to represent middle ground. It’s a tremendously good read, and for those who wish to delve deeper, there are extensive footnotes and a full bibliography.”—David Robinson, Country Life
“Parts of the story Hanley relates will be familiar. . . . Other events may surprise and Hanley’s eye for narrative detail vividly brings them to life. . . . For those seeking an overview of the relationship between France and England that examines the fluctuating fortunes, both person and political, of their ruling families, Hanley’s book is the place to start.”—Emily Joan Ward, History Today
“Catherine Hanley knows the twelfth and thirteenth centuries like the back of her hand. In Two Houses, Two Kingdoms she brings vividly to life an extraordinary cast of characters, the men and women through whom the kingdoms of England and France took shape, telling their story with wit, wisdom, and formidable scholarship.”—Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth
“People make history, but never alone. Hanley brings to life the royal families of England and France in this exciting period, through their interactions as close bedfellows (literally), brothers (and sisters) in arms, petulant rivals, and bitter enemies.”—Anne Curry, author of Henry V: From Playboy Prince to Warrior King
“Hanley has created a rich tapestry that tells the story of two kingdoms whose rulers bucked against the fundamental truth that their histories and futures were woven together. . . . This book creates a picture of kingdoms like siblings, connected but destined to be at war. A must-read for anyone interested in the entwined stories of medieval kingdoms and dynasties.”—Matt Lewis, author of Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me
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