Featuring medieval queens, including Queen Berengeria, Queen Eleanor, Queen Isabella and more.

Historical Novels Laid in the Medieval Period
(800-1500 A.D.)
Recommendations from Rachel Bard

Brooke, Gabriella. The Words of Bernfrieda. The title character chronicles her life and that of her mistress in 11th-century Normandy, Italy and Sicily. While William the Conqueror was invading England, other Normans were struggling with Byzantines and Muslims for southern Italy. The book is elegantly written and leaves the reader with a clear and sometimes disturbing picture of the role of medieval women.

Closs, Hannah. The Tarn Trilogy: High Are the Mountains, Deep Are the Valleys, The Silent Tarn. Just the thing for those of us who are fascinated by the Albigensian heresy that flourished in 13th-century southern France. Its adherents persevered stubbornly in spite of persecution by the Catholic Church. The books vividly recreate the lives of the doomed unfortunates.

Cornwell, Bernard. The Warlord Chronicles: The Winter King, Enemy of God, Excalibur. Not your usual fairytale, mythladen story of Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad, Merlin and the gang. Cornwell stays firmly in the sixth century, but revamps the Arthurian legend so the characters come alive like people we know today.

Craig, Charmaine. The Good Men. A lush, absorbing tale of a woman who was tried for heresy by the Inquisition. It takes place during the fourteenth century when the Cathar rebels defied the Catholic Church in the mountains of southern France. Their heresy, also known as the Albigensian, is also the subject of The Tarn Trilogy, described above.

Cross, Donna. Pope Joan. An outlandish tale of a humble Englishwoman who reigned as a male Pope for two years in the 9th century. Lots of drama, and you have permission to suspend your disbelief.

Dunant, Sarah. The Birth of Venus. Florence in the 15th century, the era of Savanarola and his persecutions of heretics. High drama, skillfully presented, with characters that come vibrantly into focus.

Jenings, Gary. The Journeyer. What Marco Polo might have written if he'd gotten around to a detailed account. It immerses you in high life and low life in the 13th-14th centuries. There's bawdiness, more funny than offensive; misery; cruelty; and the carefree joys of a very long road trip (Venice to China and back again).

Kaufman, Pamela. The Book of Eleanor: a Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine. It's sometimes silly, though not as silly as her Shield of Three Lions (about a girl who masqueraded as a boy and aroused the love of Richard the Lionheart). An entertaining read. Just don't expect the ultimate word on what Eleanor was really like.

Watson, Elsa. Maid Marian. A fanciful tale of Robin Hood's beloved. Since so little is known of Robin Hood (did he really exist?) and much less of his jolly men and his girlfriend, the author had a good time embroidering the record. An enjoyable romp through medieval England.

Just Published!
Completing the
Plantagenet Trilogy

A Reed
in the Wind

The New Historical Novel
By Rachel Bard
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Queen Without a Conscience

A Historical Novel
By Rachel Bard
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Queen Without a Country
A Historical Novel
By Rachel Bard
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