Brilliant Books Traverse City. In this epic narrative history of courage, treachery, ambition, and deception, Dan Jones resurrects the unruly royal dynasty that preceded the Tudors. Fast-paced and accessible, The Plantagenets is old-fashioned storytelling and will be particularly appreciated by those who like their history red in tooth and claw. Jones tackles his subject with obvious relish. Jones has produced a rollicking, compelling book produced a rollicking, compelling book about a rollicking, compelling dynasty, one that makes the Tudors who followed them a century later look like ginger pussycats.
The Plantagenets is told with the latest historical evidence and rich in detail and scene-setting. You can almost smell the sea salt as the White Ship sinks, and hear the screams of the tortured at the execution grounds at Tyburn. His is an engaging and readable account—itself an accomplishment given the gaps in medieval sources and a year tableau—and yet researched with the exacting standards of an academician.
The result is a history book that frequently reads like a novel and can be opened to any chapter. When quoting from the sources, Mr. Jones is careful to say if they supported or were against the King. He also challenges some of the myths that have grown up around the kings. Jones ends the story of the Plantagenets with the disposition of Richard II, another king who irritated his nobles and lost his wars, by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke Henry IV. He justifies this with the fact the Richard II was the last king of the senior male Plantagenet line.
View 1 comment. I have been reading this book for over three years. It covers a huge amount of English history, far too much to fairly condense into a review. The knowledge of the actual events surrounding these characters really helped me when approaching the plays.
The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England (Paperback) | Brilliant Books
For that reason I stuck with the book. Dan Jones is an excellent historian, but my interests reside more with literary history rather than actual history; thus, the snail pace I developed whist reading. For the right reader it'll be worth the slog. View 2 comments. Sep 08, Leanda Lisle rated it it was amazing. It has been a week of competitive reading in the de Lisle household.
We both read into the night. But I was the one unable to stop myself reading passages out loud. Jones covers an enormous amount of ground: eight generations of Kings and Queens from to The risk with a long dynastic history is that it becomes just one damn thing after another, a It has been a week of competitive reading in the de Lisle household. The risk with a long dynastic history is that it becomes just one damn thing after another, and the reader gets lost in a snowstorm of names and events.
Jones avoids this with a combination of gripping story telling and pin sharp clarity. As I sometimes stop mid-paragraph to daydream around a subject, I was grateful to be kept on track by a text that is simple and direct, without leaving me feeling patronised. The narrative opens with a drunken party aboard a white ship — the white ship. Amongst the Beautiful People revelling on deck is William Aetherling, grandson of William the Conquerer and only legitimate son of Henry 1st. Unfortunately those who are actually sailing the ship are also drunk and intend to race across the channel from France to England.
They hit a rock before they have even left the harbour. The subsequent catastrophe reads like the sinking of the Titanic, but with royalty, and far more serious consequences. Her husband, the handsome Geoffrey of Anjou, is the man who in legend inspired the Plantagent name: he wore a spring of yellow broom blossom planta genista in his hair. Four centuries before the advent of Mary Tudor, the question of whether or not England will accept a Queen regnant, has arisen. Its walls and motte castle had been besieged at least three times..
The future Henry II eventually breaks through and even the priests in the town church are butchered. Jones does excellent pen portraits, backed by vivid quotations. His neck was thrust forward slightly from his shoulders.. His body was stocky, with a pronounced tendency towards fatness.. The history of the Middle Ages supposedly suffers in relation to the Tudors because there are fewer portraits of the principle figures. But with this level of physical detail who needs a painted image? Apparently mentioning the name of the Kings of Scots in a pleasant manner was enough to make him eat the straw from his mattress.
I can imagine a time when many of us may come to feel like that about Alex Salmon. Maunday Thursday is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar: the night of the Last Supper. Instead he was drunk at dinner and brooding on the wrongs done against him. One of his servants had, earlier that year, refused orders to castrate and blind his sixteen-year old nephew and heir, Arthur of Britanny.
I was strangely pleased to be reassured that Bad King John really was Bad - even badder than I had remembered. The wife of one of his enemies ended up eating her own son as she starved in a dungeon. Instead of pretending to be sorry, and fretting that his subjects were no longer able to hear Mass, John devised new means of extracting money from the clergy: the most inventive being kidnapping their illicit wives and mistresses and then ransoming them back. Edward III, the ancestor of the English Upper Middle Class, aged seventeen, sending a hit squad into Nottingham castle to overthrow his mother and her lover; the whispy boy king, Richard II and his descent into folie de grandeur.
Yet Plantagents is not just a collection of great stories. The evolving symbolism of kingship, the changing architectural landscape, and the emerging use of the English language in government and in poetry, are also addressed. This ensures Plantagents is a satisfying as well as an enjoyable read. Jones is a journalist whose love of Medieval history was fostered at Cambridge. It is a passion he is keen to share, and if he is hoping to tempt readers away from Nazis, Tudors, or historical fantasy fiction, he succeeds brilliantly in this exhilarating real-life game of thrones.
A version of this review first appeared in the Literary Review View all 4 comments. May 02, Samantha rated it it was amazing Shelves: kindle-own-it , plantagenets , british-history , nonfiction. Dan Jones has done something with this book that is not usually achieved. He has taken almost three centuries of history and made them accessible and understandable to the non-historian.
His style of narrative nonfiction was at times as captivating as any novel with brilliant analysis of what drove people to the roles that they played. Beginning with the loss of the White Ship in , Jones details the rise of the Plantagenets to power through Matilda, daughter of Henry I. Covering the war for s Dan Jones has done something with this book that is not usually achieved.
Covering the war for supremacy between Matilda and Stephen would have seemed enough for some authors, but Jones takes on the charismatic kings all the way to the usurpation of Henry IV.
Jones does so with just enough detail of each king to understand their reign without including so much as to overwhelm the reader who is looking for an overview of the dynasty. This book ends with Henry IV taking power and initiating the divide in the monarchy that would become the Wars of the Roses, the subject of Jones' next book.
That Richard II was a poor king is undoubted, but Henry of Bolingbroke could not have envisioned the course that he had set his family upon when he determined that right to kingship came from ability rather than solely bloodline. This was very easy reading for such comprehensive nonfiction material. It is a book that I would not hesitate to recommend to someone who does not already have a foundation in Plantagenet history.
View all 12 comments. Sep 22, Faith rated it it was amazing Shelves: audio , overdrive. I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it, which is surprising since my eyes usually glaze over at any hint of English history. There were dry parts but mostly the author's writing style is more casual and he really seems to be enjoying his topic and that made me more interested.
I listened to the audiobook so I didn't get to see any bibliography or footnotes. That was unfortunate since there were lots of people and subjects on which I would like to have more information. I will just I really enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it, which is surprising since my eyes usually glaze over at any hint of English history. I will just have to seek it out on my own. The narrator of the audiobook Clive Chafer did a very good job.
Each monarch in turn has his story told; which wars he fought in, the land he gained and lost, who he married and who his children were. In his prologue, Jones tells us his intention with The Plantagenets is to tell the story in an entertaining way. In this I think he is successful. I liked some of the writing, which was clear and fluid.
This is perhaps because I knew about these reigns before reading; but also because I think Jones doesn't like these kings very much and therefore didn't really 'get into' their stories I'll go into detail about this shortly. I have mixed feelings about this book. I was disappointed to discover that Jones was often very biased, his love or hate for the monarch in question was really obvious.
I especially found with Edward II there was no attempt at all to be neutral; he was even blamed for the failings of Richard II. The author certainly knows his stuff where these two monarchs are concerned, but, more importantly, he seems to like them and to want to tell their stories. I think that made all the difference to the reading experience, for me. As this book is a popular, narrative history it was not referenced in an academic way.
Primary source material is still used and quoted though, which was a nice addition to the narrative. When learning about Henry II, for example, we have a quote from Gerard of Wales; a man who apparently knew Henry personally and well. This was ideal for a narrative book- someone who is reading for entertainment does not always want to be bogged down with footnotes. A further reading section is provided at the back of the book, for people that want to learn more about the monarchs in the book that intrigued them. The author uses his book to bust a few common myths, which I think is great.
Again, though, with the good comes the bad. The author states Edward II was kept in a dungeon at Berkeley; this is not true, he was kept in comfort in his apartments, as original documents confirm. What is puzzling about both of these errors is Jones cites Seymour Phillips' Edward II biography in his aforementioned further reading section- if he had read this book, he would know these statements were incorrect. There are other mistakes within most chapters of the book, which are also sloppy, careless, and easily corrected. All in all, an OK narrative history. If you want a history-lite introduction to the dynasty, then perhaps this is a good book for you, but if you like your histories more accurate and challenging then perhaps it is not.
I'm not sure I would recommend this book, as the inaccuracies in the chapters about monarchs I know makes me question the accuracy of the chapters about monarchs I did not. A book that could have been excellent sadly disappoints. Shelves: history , non-fiction , england , audiobook , medieval. It's often been observed that Americans have a fascination with royalty and many are prone to fawning over the royals from the mother country more than their own subjects do.
Probably modern British citizens have become jaded and cynical about their living relics in Buckingham, while we Yanks still find the idea of an "absolute ruler" by birthright foreign and exotic. And let's be honest, lots of Americans would probably be happy to live under a monarchy if they thought the monarch shared their It's often been observed that Americans have a fascination with royalty and many are prone to fawning over the royals from the mother country more than their own subjects do.
And let's be honest, lots of Americans would probably be happy to live under a monarchy if they thought the monarch shared their values. Most of us, however, not having grown up with English kings and queens as part of our national history, can only name a few of them. There's good old King George, of course. And the king from Robin Hood.
And the guy in Shakespeare's play And, umm Who can differentiate between them? The Plantagenets will help you out though honestly, I still have trouble keeping all the various Edwards straight. And it's a really interesting read for anyone interested in history or the foundations of the British empire. They were the immediate descendants of William the Conqueror.
The line ended or really, split into the two branches of Lancaster and York, which led the War of the Roses a few generations later. While George R. Martin is known to have loosely based his epic on that conflict, you'll learn in this book that the Plantagenets and their rivals were playing a game of thrones long before then. Uneasy Lies the Head The king or queen of England has never rested easy.
Even before the Magna Carta was signed by the unpopular King John, the king could never take his power for granted. Reading The Plantagenets , you have to feel sorry for the kings, even the really terrible ones. They had troubles like any modern ruler - peers and parliaments that wouldn't give them the money they wanted to go crusading or waging war in France, relatives scheming to take their throne half the time it was the king's own brothers or even sons rebelling against him! More than one king was basically reduced to a puppet, sometimes in danger of being imprisoned or beheaded by his own people.
The king couldn't just do what he wanted, and those who did inevitably discovered that payback is a bitch. This is probably more relevant to American history than you might think. England, it is clear, had a long, long history of curbing its more excessive rulers.
A king could get away with an awful lot, but London would turn on you, the people would rise against you, your own family would depose you, if you went too far. So when the American colonists rebelled against King George by which time the power of the monarchy was already a shadow of the days when a king or queen could simply say "Off with his head! Who were the Plantagenets? Here's a quick line-up, but of course the book goes into far more detail, making each of these characters living, breathing, flawed historical figures. The author, Dan Jones, passes a verdict on each of them, generally the one popularized by historical consensus, but whether a king is now regarded as "good" or "bad," all of them had moments of glory or at least fortitude , and moments of ignominy.
Henry II Generally reckoned as the first Plantagenet. A grandson of William the Conqueror, and married to Eleanor of Aquitaine who continued to be an influential figure even after his death. Started the long, multigenerational conflict with France, and raised England from a little island kingdom to a major European power. Whether or not he actually had Thomas Becket killed is still debatable, but he never actually said "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest? And yet, when Richard returned, he forgave his brother, and John assumed the throne after his death.
This wasn't great for England.
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Richard is the Robin Hood guy. He also exchanged correspondence with his arch-rival in Jerusalem, Saladin, but the two never actually met, counter to various historical fantasies. John While historians today debate whether he really deserved his reputation as the villain of Robin Hood legends, he was by all accounts not one of England's nicer kings, and certainly not its most competent.
He fought another losing war against France, was mockingly called "John Softsword" by his contemporaries, and is the king famously forced to sign the Magna Carta. Besides their rulership, in which the economy of England rose and fell, and sometimes it was peace and prosperity and other times it was nothing but famine, civil wars, and the Black Death, they all had marital or family problems, periodic invasions of or by France, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales the long grinding conflict with those countries also began with the Plantagenets , and then of course there was the Church, which long before Henry VIII was vexing and occasionally excommunicating British monarchs who didn't want to do what the Pope said.
This was a really fascinating read, and while I still have trouble sorting out the various Henrys and Edwards, I have a better understanding of the pivotal events in British history and what its rulers did to shape the history that followed. Then he formally surrendered himself to his cousin. He and Salisbury were given two very poor horses to ride, and they set out with Bolingbroke, under armed guard, for Chester.
The castle was no longer the military stronghold of a paranoid king but his prison. The Plantagenets is a wonderful narrative history, one which paints vividly the longest dynasty in English annals The book opens with the maritime disaster wh "Fair cousin, since it pleases you, it pleases us well," said Richard. The book opens with the maritime disaster which befell Henry I's heir and it ends years later in with Richard II being removed from office.
There are countless overseas wars, Barons' revolts, the Magna Carta, Excommunications, Crusades, ransoms, child brides, taxes, defaults, plagues, peasants going apeshit, Arthurian cults, and bedroom revolutions: how many times can spouses and children lift the sword to depose a faltering Crown? My chief complaint remains the lack of footnotes.
There is also a vaccuum concerning the historical perspective and the rising and falling tides of such. There are a handful of films indispensable to this period, this list sadly doesn't include Becket which is marvelous cinema but rubbish history. View all 7 comments. Dec 09, Carly rated it it was amazing Shelves: history , nonfiction. It's no secret that George R. Martin based much of his world's politicking on the Plantagenet period.
What I learned from this book: the Plantagenets were so batshit crazy that they make the situations in Game of Thrones ASoIaF look comparatively mundane. He really did start penalizing poaching on forest lands to procure additional money, and actually did try to usurp Richard's thr It's no secret that George R. He really did start penalizing poaching on forest lands to procure additional money, and actually did try to usurp Richard's throne whilst he was on the Crusades. He even tried to bribe Richard's jailers to hold him for longer.
He also managed to get excommunicated, and to make matters worse, his reaction was to triumphantly seize church land and hold family members of the church for ransom. He also managed to lose practically all of the Norman territories to France. He even murdered his nephew on Easter, apparently because it seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn't, as Philip of France started every parley with asking him to give over his nephew. Basically, John was a scheming slimeball who was not even remotely as crafty or clever as he believed himself to be.
I was unavoidably reminded of one Edmund Blackadder.
In case you had any reverence for the Magna Carta, it originated as a failed treaty between John and his lords. And then there's Edward II, who gave so many honours and jewels and important jobs to his "dear friend" Piers Gaveston that everyone else in the kingdom, including his wife, started to feel left out. If only the lords had taken the sensible course advised by Mitchell and Webb , yet another civil war might have been avoided. And don't forget Richard II, whose early life and revenge schemes are so dramatic and bizarre that they make Joffrey and Littlefinger look like conservative amateurs.
As far as I could tell, every Plantagenet story has a fitting twist to the tale. For example, take the story of Stephen and Matilda well, Empress Matilda. Confusingly, there are at least four important Matildas in the full story. When Henry I realized he had no male heir, he chose his daughter Matilda as his successor.
After all, she was already an empress and an experienced administrator, even if she did have the undeniable character flaw of being female. Henry I, sensing storms ahead, made all his barons swear fealty to his daughter Matilda--twice. Even so, as soon as he died, Cousin Stephen stepped in, and, being male, promptly swayed the lords to his banner. After a decades-long civil war, Matilda retreated to France--and sent over her son, Henry II, who had the sterling qualifications of not only being the rightful heir, but also of being male.
After a few brief and decisive victories, Stephen was forced to take the humiliating course of naming Henry II as heir over his own children. He died knowing his attempt at dynasty had failed, and that Matilda's long game had paid out. I don't think a single Plantagenet died without a certain amount of dramatic irony, or some variety of contention over the succession. Combined with some of the other histories I've read, I've come to one firm conclusion: never, ever name a prospective British monarch "Arthur.
It's actually impressive how many Arthurs have failed to make it to the throne. Dan Jones packs a heck of a lot of history into his book, and he sacrifices neither entertainment, humour, nor accuracy. I've recently read a spate of what I consider truly awful pop history, where it was impossible to determine what was from the author's imagination and what was from some dubious and hyperbolic source. While not a pleasant experience, it certainly increased my admiration for Jones' Plantagenets. I don't know how he manages it, but Jones manages to conversationally attribute his information to their sources and even discuss conflicting accounts without breaking the flow, the suspense, or even the story.
When the truth is in doubt which is often, given the time period , Jones admits the uncertainty and lays out all the facts, then, with a wry humour, plumps for the most conservative of the possibilities--all while providing the reader with the ammunition for more sensational conclusions. My only major complaint is that he stopped at Bolingbroke. Dear Mr. Jones: In your forward, you promise us another volume. Please, can you publish it soon? I'll be waiting. In fighting, jealousy, resentment and hunger for mor 3.
In fighting, jealousy, resentment and hunger for more were uneasy bed fellows within the royal household, more than once, for example, Dan Jones highlights that in Henry II reign as 3 of his oldest sons gained maturity and his wife began to resent the erosion of her power led to betrayal and heartache for a father and king. I would have loved to learn more about the powerful spouses and confidants behind each reign, but this book has done well in whetting my appetite for more. I have to say I would have liked it if the author had provided references simply because it would have made it easier for me to look up what books I may like to read.
View all 5 comments. Mar 07, Lyn Readinghearts rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Royalty History readers, English history readers. Recommended to Lyn Readinghearts by: the publisher and Netgalley. Shelves: borrowed , read , books-i-own , read-for-review , world-lit , arc , new-to-me-authors , important , netgalley , plantagenet. I am a self proclaimed history geek. Although my first love was, and always will be, Historical Fiction, over the years I have developed an intense love affair with many well written History books of the non-fiction variety.
I have said many time, on here no less, that a good Historical Fiction book should peak my interest and make me seek out factual books on the given subject to fill in the gaps and give me the "true" picture. As a result, I am always excited when I found one of the said Histo I am a self proclaimed history geek. As a result, I am always excited when I found one of the said History books that I can not only enjoy, but recommend.
When it comes to history, nothing is more fascinating to me than the history of the families designated as Royalty and their nobles. If you look throughout history, there are not many families or dynasties that you can find who would be more fascinating than the Plantagenets. From the beginning of their rule in England in the s, to the splintering of their family into the Lancasters and Yorks, and on to the takeover of England by the Tudors, the Plantagenets have had a huge affect on the history of England and Great Britain.
To me, they are the dynasty that all other Royalty, English and other, are measured by. Here is a family full of heroes and heroines, crusaders, thieves, murderers. Their lives had tragedies and triumphs. At times they were both brilliant in their rule and careless in their mistakes, but through it all, they made England into a force to be reckoned with.
Dan Jones captures all of these events and their consequences and impacts, and he does it with a writing style that reads more like a good story than just the listing of facts and dates. That is perhaps the best thing about this book I became so engrossed in the lives of the various members of this ruling family, that I would find that I had been reading for an hour or more without realizing it. I can say, that almost never happens when I am given a book to read for review.
Dan Jones' book, though, is the kind of book that I can see myself enjoying more than one, while also using it as a reference on the Plantagenet Dynasty. My only complaint was that the book ended too soon, leaving out some of the more familiar members of the family. Although I understand the reason to stop at the point that this books ends, I am holding Dan Jones to his "promise" of a second book to finish the tale.
I am highly anticipating this second book, and only hope that he meant what he said about writing it and that it comes out soon. This book is highly recommended by me to anyone who is interested in the history of the ruling families of England, but of England and Great Britain itself. A Huge thanks to Viking Adult and Netgalley for allowing me the privilege of reading this book in exchange for my review. View all 8 comments. Spot-on description of Henry III. These occasional sentences from author Dan Jones made this book a lively read, although given the subject matter, any re-telling of the illustrious Plantagenet family would probably not be on the boring side.
And let me plant my flag right now: I am a Plantagenet-ista. Not the selfish Tudors or the Teutonic Hanovers or the wil Not the selfish Tudors or the Teutonic Hanovers or the wilty Windsors for me. Damn you, Henry VII! The book begins with the infamous White Ship disaster, which sent Henry I's heir and the next-in-line heir to the bottom of the sea. Since Henry had very likely been the murderer of his older brother William II, this was the old sins of the father revisited on the sons. In any case, the "Age of Shipwreck" had begun, as chaos ruled the land when Henry I passed away.
And yes, I always think of Mr. This is where the wild ride starts, as Henry and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine created the devil's brood, out of which arose Richard I and John who doesn't need a numeral after his name because there will never be another King John. Here the book does try a bit to give John some credit for something, but boooo-hisss-snarl, he really was the Darth Vader of his time.
You want to rescue a country from its incompetent overseers? Produce kick-ass Edward. Exciting stuff. I enjoyed the book, but I deeply disagree with the author's contention that Richard II was the end of the Plantagenets. The Lancasters and Yorks were Plantas also, but I get the idea that the book should end with the downfall of another wonky family member and so Jones can write separate books on that Roses thing.
In fact, I found my knowledge of Richard II was not that good, so the last chapter was rather enlightening. And yes, I think of Mr. Whishaw when I read about Richard II. All in all, a very good book on an extraordinary family. The writing involved me and made history more accessible.
Mar 12, David rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. Prior to this book, my knowledge of the Plantagenet Family was limited to playing the grand strategy game Crusader Kings II, so take my review with a grain of salt. The book was engaging, had a good narrative style, and was full of information on how the Kings of the Angevin Empire either ruled or mis-ruled. Really fascinating stuff if you are interested in Medieval English History. And it seems like Crusader Kings II is pretty on-point when it comes to the hassle of dispensing titles, people co Prior to this book, my knowledge of the Plantagenet Family was limited to playing the grand strategy game Crusader Kings II, so take my review with a grain of salt.
Crusading remains a rallying call to this day, but its role in the popular imagination ignores the cooperation and complicated coexistence that were just as much a feature of the period as warfare.
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The age-old relationships between faith, conquest, wealth, power, and trade meant that crusading was not only about fighting for the glory of God, but also, among other earthly reasons, about gold. In this richly dramatic narrative that gives voice to sources usually pushed to the margins, Dan Jones has written an authoritative survey of the holy wars with global scope and human focus.
Summer of Blood: England's First Revolution. In the summer of , ravaged by poverty and oppressed by taxes, the people of England rose up and demanded that their voices be heard. Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text. Best For. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. Content Protection. Learn More. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
More in autobiography. See more. Marc Morris. The first major biography of a truly formidable king, whose reign was one of the most dramatic and important of the entire Middle Ages, leading to war and conquest on an unprecedented scale. Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king's action-packed life. Earlier, Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort in battle; travelled to the Holy Land; conquered Wales, extinguishing forever its native rulers and constructing a magnificent chain of castles. He raised the greatest armies of the Middle Ages and summoned the largest parliaments; notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.
The longest-lived of England's medieval kings, he fathered fifteen children with his first wife, Eleanor of Castile, and, after her death, he erected the Eleanor Crosses—the grandest funeral monuments ever fashioned for an English monarch. In this book, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England's destiny—a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur.
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The Industrial Revolution was transforming the landscape, and the British Empire was commanding ever larger tracts of the globe. In a world where women were often powerless, during a century roiling with change, Victoria went on to rule the most powerful country on earth with a decisive hand. Fifth in line to the throne at the time of her birth, Victoria was an ordinary woman thrust into an extraordinary role.
As a teenage queen, she eagerly grasped the crown and relished the freedom it brought her. At twenty, she fell passionately in love with Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, eventually giving birth to nine children. She loved sex and delighted in power. She was outspoken with her ministers, overstepping conventional boundaries and asserting her opinions.