Once upon a time, as every schoolboy knew, the history of the British Empire was the history of great men.
Berenguela of Castile (1180–1246) is a figure who is often overshadowed by her famous relatives, including her grandmother Eleanor of Aquitaine, her sister Blanche of Castile and her son Fernando III of Castile and León.
The Female King of Colonial Nigeria is the story of a woman, Ahebi Ugbabe, who rose from the status of a local girl and commercial sex worker to that of a village headman, a warrant chief and a king. Ahebi was born in Enugu-Ezike, an Igbo community, in the late 19th century.
Rachel Beer first caught my attention some 20 years ago when I was trawling through Who Was Who looking for journalists. She was unusual because she was the editor of The Sunday Times in the 1890s, when no other national newspaper had a woman editor. She was also deeply conscious of her background, proud of being a member of the wealthy and important Jewish family of Sassoon.
This collection of essays edited by Debra Barrett-Graves provides new ways of interpreting the symbolic images through which Renaissance queens shaped their identity and royal authority. In bringing together different approaches and sources, the authors use the methodologies of several disciplines: literature, history, art history and cultural studies.
Theresa Earenfight’s new book, Queenship in Medieval Europe, stresses that the medieval royal court could be a woman’s world as much as a man’s.
In recent years, historians have begun to explore the political experiences of Victorian women outside the well-trodden suffrage narrative. As a consequence, we have a far greater understanding of how certain women were able to negotiate, exploit and overcome the legal and ideological constraints society placed upon them.
Amanda E. Herbert’s fresh and important study of women’s alliances in early modern Britain opens with a quotation from Mary Evelyn listing the duties of elite women in the late 17th century. Reading as follows: ‘the care of children’s education, observing a husband’s commands, assisting the sick, relieving the poor, and being serviceable to our friends’ (p. 1).
In 2018 the commemorative events to mark the First World War, which start this year, will come to an end, but how will we mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, or even 90 years since all British women were granted the vote?