04 August 2022, The Tablet

Saint and martyr

Saint and martyr

Henrietta Maria by Van Dyck
Alamy, Granger Historical Picture Archive


Henrietta Maria: Conspirator, Warrior, Phoenix Queen
(CHATTO & WINDUS, 496 PP, £25)
Tablet bookshop price £22.50 • tel 020 7799 4064

Henrietta Maria, Conspirator, Warrior, Phoenix Queen shows sympathy for an unpopular royal figure Leanda de Lisle believes deserves reconsideration.

As one of the chief obstacles in the path to parliamentary democracy, Henrietta Maria has generally been treated with disdain by historians. But de Lisle reframes the queen in far more positive terms, as an enlightening cultural influence. And she reminds us that “many of those who fought hardest for ‘liberty’ against Charles I denied it to the slaves they shipped from Africa to the Americas”.

Henrietta Maria emerges as a progressive young woman. She embraced Platonic ideals which put women centre stage at a brutal time, and her message of the value of the female perspective spread far beyond the court.


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