Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review: Heroines of the Medieval World, by Sharon Bennett Connolly

26 October 2017

Book Review: Heroines of the Medieval World, by Sharon Bennett Connolly

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

What makes a woman a 'heroine'? Sharon Bennett Connolly's new book Heroines of the Medieval World is organised by theme, so it's perfect for 'dipping in' at a random page or section - and you can be fairly sure of learning something interesting.

As well as more obvious medieval heroines, such as Joan of Arc and Eleanor of Aquitaine, I was pleased to see women like Jacquline of Hainault finally having the attention they deserve. It also passes the test of inspiring you to find our more about the lives of some of the less well known women, (which I have already started doing.)

This book is also full of fascinating and sometimes gruesome details, such as how Matilda de Braose (whose heroic achievements include having sixteen children) was imprisoned in a dungeon by King John with her son and left to starve to death. 

Some of Sharon's themes were a surprise, like the section on captive heroines or the idea of medieval mistresses being heroic. (I'd recently been reading about HenryVIII's 'Bessie' Blount and fell into the trap of not considering events from her point of view.)

This brings me to my main problem with this entertaining and highly readable book. Sharon Connolly admits these amazing women represent just the 'tip of the iceberg' of those she could have chosen to write about. It should have the subtitle 'Part 1' as there are so many more heroines, particularly from the Tudor period, I'd like to see included. I'm looking forward to the sequel: 'More Heroines of the Medieval World.'

Tony Riches 

Disclosure: A review copy of this book was kindly provided by Amberley Publishing

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About the Author

Sharon Bennett Connolly was born in Yorkshire and studied at University in Northampton before working at Disneyland in Paris and Eurostar in London. She has been fascinated by history for over thirty years and has worked as a tour guide at historical sites, including Conisbrough Castle. Best known for her fascinating blog History ... the Interesting Bits she began focusing on medieval women and in 2016 her first non-fiction book, Heroines of the Medieval World was published by Amberley Publishing. Sharon is now writing her second non-fiction book, Silk and the Sword: The Women of the Norman Conquest, which will be published by Amberley in late 2018. Follow Sharon on Facebook and Twitter @Thehistorybits


  1. What a marvellous review. Maybe I should be thinking of a Heroines Of The Renaissance World? Thank you Tony - I will be smiling all day.

    1. Congratulations on a great book Sharon - and your first 5 star review on Goodreads!


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