One of history's most complex and alluring women, Anne Boleyn was irresistible to kings and commoners alike. Daughter of an ambitious country lord, Anne was sent to France to marry well and raise the family's fortunes. She soon surpassed even their greatest expectations when King Henry VIII swore he would put aside his loyal queen to make Anne his wife.
"Lady in the tower. I loved it."
The marriage of Katharine of Aragon and King Henry VIII was a right royal match. England loved the young lovers, but hardly were they wed when powerful people in Henry's court were spinning webs of intrigue around the innocent royal pair. Spanish spies, the Pope's men, the Queen's seductive ladies-in-waiting, and especially the King's brilliant advisor, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, all were obsessed with one question: Would Queen Katharine be able to give Henry the healthy son he so desperately wanted?
"It looms over her"
Scotland has been torn apart by civil war, and the young and passionate Catholic Mary Queen of Scots is in the hands of her enemies. Under duress, Mary abdicates in favour of her son, James VI, and flees to England for safety, boldly seeking refuge with her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. But Elizabeth has never trusted the ambitious Catholic queen and has Mary imprisoned.
"And Her Soul Yearned to be Free"
In the eyes of the world, Katharine of Aragon was a precious object to be disposed of for the glory of Spain. Her parents, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, sent her to England to become the bride of Arthur, Prince of Wales. But soon her frail husband was dead, and a fateful question loomed: was the marriage consummated, or was the young widow still a virgin?
"Long and Oriental"
The 12-year marriage of Henry and Katharine has declined from an idyllic union into an uneasy stalemate. The king's love for his aging queen has grown cold, and he is angry with her failure to give him the heir to the throne he desperately wants. When the seductive Anne Boleyn arrives at court, the king is captivated by her dark beauty and bold spirit and becomes obsessed by the desire to possess her.
"Not much of a secret"
When William X dies, the duchy of Aquitaine is left to his 15-year-old daughter, Eleanor. But such a position for an unmarried woman puts the whole kingdom at risk. So on his deathbed William made a will that would ensure his daughter’s protection: he promised her hand in marriage to the future King of France. Eleanor grows into a romantic and beautiful queen, but she has inherited the will of a king, determined to rule Aquitaine using her husband’s power as King of France. Her
The young Princess Victoria, strictly confined within the boundaries of Kensington Palace, is being moulded for her awesome future as Queen of England. Surrounded by her dolls and closely guarded by her domineering mother and faithful governess, she slowly becomes aware of the bitter conflicts that surround her. The jealous and scheming Duke of Cumberland is a constant threat to her rightful accession …her mother’s sinister friend, Sir John Conroy, makes her uneasy … and the bickering between her mother and the king seems never-ending.
Edward the Second has been barbarously murdered in Berkeley Castle on the orders of his wife Queen Isabella and her lover, and 15-year-old Edward the Third is now king. Young Edward has already fallen in love with Philippa of Hainault and, to prevent him enquiring into the details of his father’s death, Isabella allows the marriage to take place. While some suggest that Edward has a claim on the French throne, he is reluctant to pursue it.
Princess Mary Rose is the youngest sister of King Henry VIII, and one of the few people whom he adores unconditionally. She is the golden child of the Tudor family and is granted her every wish. Except when it comes to marriage. Locked in a political showdown with France, Henry decides to offer up his pampered sister to secure peace between the two mighty kingdoms, and she is unwillingly sent to France to marry the ailing King Louis.
In a castle in the mountains outside Rome, Lucrezia Borgia is born into history's most notorious family. Her father, who is to become Pope Alexander VI, receives his first daughter warmly, and her brothers, Cesare and Giovanni, are devoted to her. As Lucrezia matures into a beautiful young woman, her brothers are ever more protective and become fierce rivals for her attention.
Reckoned by those about him to be the most handsome man in the country, Edward IV has risen to the throne with the help of Warwick, the kingmaker. But even Warwick’s trusted advice cannot convince the king to ignore his passion for the beautiful widow Elizabeth Woodville – and when she refuses to become his mistress the two are married. Beloved of the people, Edward proves himself to be a strong king. Despite his mistresses, Elizabeth is loyal to the illustrious king, provding him with many children....
Married to Ferdinand after numerous fears and disappointments, Isabella triumphs over every danger, convinced of her own destiny. With the might of Portugal humbled, the court of the Sovereigns sees the rise of Torquemada and the establishment of the dreaded Inquisition. It also witnesses the coming of Columbus, who leaves the woman he loves to make a dream reality.
Fifteenth-century Spain is rent with intrigue and threatened by civil war. Here, the young Isabella becomes the pawn of her half-crazed mother and a virtual prisoner at the licentious court of her half-brother, Henry IV. At just sixteen years old, is she already fated to be the victim of the Queen's revenge, the Archbishop's ambition and the lust of lecherous Don Pedro Girón?
At the age of 15, Marie Antoinette, beautiful and charming bride to the impotent Dauphin, is plunged into the intrigue of Versailles. Frivolous and reckless, she flouts the strict and demanding etiquette of the glittering court and discovers the true nature of love, hate and jealousy. But the clouds of revolution are overhead, and Marie Antoinette, who wishes only to enjoy life, learns too late that the price of her enjoyment is very high.
France eagerly awaits the day the young king, Louis XV, comes of age and breaks free from the rule of his ministers. The country hopes Louis will bring back glory and prosperity to France. However, he is too preoccupied with the thrills of hunting and gambling to notice the power struggle going on in his own court. Soon the king is introduced to the pleasures of mistresses, and a succession of lovers follows.
The death of the King’s son aboard the doomed White Ship, left the ageing Henry I again without an heir. Henry’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, could not succeed her father while her own German husband still lived – but she could hope. Henry’s nephew, the affable, charming Stephen was also looking towards the English throne.
The death of The Conqueror left three sons to inherit his power and his wealth. Normandy for Robert, England for Rufus, and for Henry, the youngest, 5,000 pounds of silver. The three were natural rivals. The feckless Robert lost his Norman dukedom in an orgy of impulsive extravagance. Red-haired Rufus scandalized the court with his perverse sexuality and contempt for the Church. And Henry - cleverest of all - awaited his chance to fulfill his father’s prophecy and assume the mantle of The Lion of Justice.
William the Conqueror is destined to succeed his father as the Duke of Normandy but questions about his legitimacy mean he consistently faces challenges from potential usurpers in the Duchy to retain the title. He marries Matilda, the equally intelligent and ambitious daughter of the King of Flanders, and together they have many children. In 1066, he crosses the channel from Normandy to England and seizes the crown from King Harold, Edward the Confessor's popular successor.
Albert is dead and the queen is preparing to spend the rest of her life in mourning. Yet the last years of her reign are to be momentous ones. Palmerston, then Gladstone and Disraeli, govern her empire through the high noon of its heyday. However, the court at Windsor, Balmoral, Osborne at Buckingham Palace is perpetually shocked by the actions of the queen’s son, the Prince of Wales. Forever in pursuit of horses, women and scandal, this is the heady harbinger of Edwardian years to come.
Victoria and Albert have been destined for one another since birth. However, the passive Albert is well aware that marriage to a quick-tempered, demonstrative woman like Victoria could result in unnecessary scenes and stormy court feuds. And he is right. The young queen, as well as having to endure her constant pregnancies, is in perpetual revolt against anyone encroaching on her position – and Albert is doing just that. Despite attempts on her life and political crises