08 November, 2013

Interview and Books

My lovely friend Kasia has been running a blog about Henry the Young King (1155-1183), son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, for a year now, and marked the anniversary yesterday by, yay, interviewing me about Edward II!  I'm honoured and privileged!  Here's the interview, and here's the front page of Kasia's blog, and here's her website.  Please do visit - her work is superb.  Henry the Young King, incidentally, was the elder brother of Edward II's great-grandfather King John.

Another lovely friend of mine, the historical novelist Susan Higginbotham (blog; website), has recently published a non-fiction book about the Woodvilles, the infamous family who rose to prominence during the Wars of the Roses when Elizabeth Woodville married Edward IV in 1464.  Susan was kind enough to thank me in the book for helping her with several translations and commenting on her first draft.  Here it is!

Today, 8 November, is the anniversary of the death of Edward II's great-grandmother Berenguela, queen of Castile and Leon, in 1246.  Berenguela was sixty-six at the time of her death, born in 1180.  She was the niece of Henry the Young King, above, being the eldest child of Henry's sister Eleanor, who married Alfonso VIII of Castile.  Berenguela's younger sister Blanche (1188-1252) is very famous as the queen-regent of France and mother of Saint Louis IX; Berenguela's son Fernando III of Castile and Leon, Edward II's grandfather, was also canonised.  There are two books about the great Queen Berenguela which I'm dying to read: one by Miriam Shadis and one by Janna Bianchini.  The daughters and granddaughters of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine fascinate me, and I'd love to read a novel about any or all of them.

Another non-fiction book I'm dying to read is Blood Cries Afar by Sean McGlynn, about Louis of France's invasion of England in 1216 at the end of King John's reign.  Louis was of course the husband of Blanche of Castile, above.  There's also a new biography of Edward II's grandfather Henry III by John Paul Davis, yippee, and Adrian Jobson's The First English Revolution about Simon de Montfort and the baronial rebellion of the 1260s.  All so exciting!

In general, I'd dearly love to read any kind of fiction or non-fiction about al-Andalus.  I'm also interested in historical fiction or non-fiction about or set in the Byzantine Empire, Russia, India, Africa, in any period before c. 1500 - basically I'd love to branch out in my reading and extend my knowledge of the history of other countries and cultures.  If you have any recommendations for me, please do leave a comment, or email me at edwardofcaernarfon(at)yahoo.com if you prefer.

17 comments:

Beata said...

HI Kathryn

Byzantium: George Ostrogorsky: "History of the Byzantine State" on the political history of Byzantium is a classic.
Alexander Kazhdan: "Power and People in Byzantium" is another classic. But anything by Kazhdan is really worth getting and reading.
John Julius Norwich's 3 volume History of Byzantium is a very good introduction and gives lots of references.
A lot of the writing on Byzantium is by non-English historians so one gets a somewhat different perspectivem e.g. Ostrogorsky was Serbian and Kazhdan Russian.
Have fun, I loved Byzantine history at Uni!

Kathryn Warner said...

Brilliant, Beata! Thank you!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Great interview, and thanks for mentioning my book.

No thanks for adding to my Amazon wish list, though.

Kathryn Warner said...

You're most welcome! Heh, we're all going to be bankrupt if these lovely history books keep being published ;)

Beata said...

Ooops! I forgot Stephen Runciman - anything by him on Byzantium, again all classics.
Also writings by Judith Herrin and Cyril Mango!
I really feel that without some understanding of Byzantine history then a lot of Eastern (Orthodox) European and Russian concerns and perspectives remain a closed book to us Westerners! The effect of the Fourth Crusade being a case in point!
As I said, I'm sure you'll enjoy the Byzantine experience!

Kathryn Warner said...

I'm sure I will too! Thanks again for the great recommendations!

Beata said...

Also forgot: The Alexiad by Anna Komnene, daughter of the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, is not an altogether easy read but gives great descriptions of Byzantine reactions to the Normans and other crusaders.
This post reactivated ny Byzaninte side!

I won't put on any more recommendations for a while!

Kathryn Warner said...

Feel free to post as many as you like ;) These are fab!

Sami Parkkonen said...

Well, let's see what happens in the near future...

Anerje said...

Enjoyed your comments on Kasia's blog.

Just finished Susan's book - really enjoyed it!

mrats.marajenner said...

A wonderful interview! I particularly loved the words: "And I'm hoping to write at least 500 or 1000 more." I actually felt insecure when you mentioned your urge to study other areas of history. "Oh, no!" I thought. "What if Kathryn abandons us!" All those unanswered questions . . . But now I feel relieved.

I wish I could recommend books for you, but I'm out of my depth. All I know about that era is the little I learned in Art History and Western "Civ".

P.S. "Edward, understandably, loathed the prospect of having to kneel to another man." Not always . . . ;-)

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, everyone, for the comments! And although I'd love to read more about other periods of history, I will never ever ever abandon Edward. :-) In fact, my interest in other periods also stems from him: I'd dearly love to know more about al-Andalus and the Reconquista because that's the world his mother grew up in, and he was closely related to a Byzantine empress, Andronikus II Palaiologos's second wife Eirene :)

Heeee at the kneeling comment :-D

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Thank you, Kathryn! I was deeply honoured you agreed to be interviewed on the occasion of our anniversary. Honoured and very happy.

Carla said...

What a lovely interview. Congratulations to Kasia on her anniversary!

Re 'any fiction about al-Andalus', have you tried Guy Gavriel Kay's 'The Lions of Al-Rassan'? It's set in an invented world that seems to bear a pretty close resemblance to al-Andalus. Because it's an invented world it tends to be shelved as fantasy, but there's no magic in it to speak of, it reads like HF. I liked it very much.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Carla! Ah, that's a great tip. I had heard of the novel, but had forgotten about it. Will definitely give it a try!

chris y said...

Not fiction, but did you notice this (and the links contained therein?)

Kathryn Warner said...

Agh, I can't stand articles written like that. "So the adulterous lovebirds settled in to canoodle and set about planning some serious homewrecking." :/