In the Medieval and Tudor world there was no question in peoplesGÇÖ minds about the order of GodGÇÖs creation GÇô men ruled and women didnGÇÖt. A King was a warrior who literally fought to win power then battled to keep it. Yet despite everything that stood in their way, a handful of extraordinary women did attempt to rule medieval and Tudor England. In this series historian Helen Castor explores seven queens who challenged male power, the fierce reactions they provoked, and whether the term GÇÿShe WolvesGÇÖ was deserved. From Matilda, the first woman who came within a hairs breadth of being crowned Queen of England in her own right, to the glorious reign of Elizabeth I, Helen looks at the dramatic, often violent, lives of the women who pursued power between them. These are the stories of Matilda, Eleanor, Isabella, Margaret and the Tudor queens - Jane, Mary and Elizabeth. They are tales of dynastic strife, marriage, motherhood divorce and betrayal but also of courage and struggling to operate in world of double standards. And to explore these extraordinary womenGÇÖs stories is to see not just how far weGÇÖve come but how little has changed. Episode One: Matilda and Eleanor 800 years ago Matilda came within a hairs breadth of being the first woman to be crowned queen of England in her own right. In this programme historian Helen Castor explores how Matilda reached this point and why her bid for the throne ultimately failed. Her daughter in law Eleanor of Aquitaine was an equally formidable woman, sheGÇÖs remembered as the queen of courtly love but in reality during her long life, she divorced one king, married another, only to lead a rebellion against him. She only finally achieved the power she craved in her seventies. Episode Two: Isabella and Margaret In 1308 a 12-year-old girl Isabella of France became queen of England when she married the English king. A century later another young French girl Margaret of Anjou followed in her footsteps. Both these women were thrust into a violent and dysfunctional England and both felt driven to take control of the kingdom themselves. Isabella would be accused of murder and Margaret of destructive ambition GÇô it was Margaret who Shakespeare named the She Wolf. But as historian Helen Castor reveals in this programme their self-assertion that would have seemed natural in a man was deemed unnatural even monstrous in a woman. Episode Three: Jane, Mary and Elizabeth In this programme historian Helen Castor explores what happened when England was faced not just with inadequate kings, but no kings at all. In 1553 for the first time in English history, all the contenders for the crown were female. In the lives of these three Tudor queens, Jane, Mary and Elizabeth, Helen Castor explores how each woman struggled in turn with wearing a crown that was made for a male head. Elizabeth I seemed to show that not only could a woman rule but could do so gloriously. But at what cost?
She-Wolves:England's Early Queens
Dr Helen Castor, historian and presenter, explores the role of queens in Medieval and Tudor England
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