Dr Helen Castor's new book, She-Wolves: The Women who Ruled England before Elizabeth, has been featured in the history section of the Financial Times' Christmas books round up, and The Guardian's history books of the year, as chosen by Hilary Mantel.

In the Middle Ages power was officially and outwardly held in male hands. The royal prerogative did not come to rest in female hands until after the death of Henry VIII's longed-for son, Edward VI. The potential successors were, for the first time, all women. Winning praise for its scope and the accessibility and beauty of its prose, Dr Castor's book examines the compelling lives of the women who ruled England before Elizabeth: Matilda, daughter of Henry I, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France and Margaret of Anjou. These women may never have ruled as Queen regnant but each held extraordinary public and private power.

This is an archived news story, first posted in 2010.

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