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The Life and Afterlife of Isabeau of Bavaria

Tracy Adams

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The fascinating history of Isabeau of Bavaria is a tale of two queens. During her lifetime, Isabeau, the long-suffering wife of mad King Charles VI of France, was respected and revered. After her death, she was reviled as an incompetent regent, depraved adulteress, and betrayer of the throne. Asserting that there is no historical support for this posthumous reputation, Tracy Adams returns Isabeau to her rightful place in history.

Adulteress and traitor—two charges long leveled against the queen—are the first subjects of Adam’s reinterpretation of medieval French history. Scholars have...

The fascinating history of Isabeau of Bavaria is a tale of two queens. During her lifetime, Isabeau, the long-suffering wife of mad King Charles VI of France, was respected and revered. After her death, she was reviled as an incompetent regent, depraved adulteress, and betrayer of the throne. Asserting that there is no historical support for this posthumous reputation, Tracy Adams returns Isabeau to her rightful place in history.

Adulteress and traitor—two charges long leveled against the queen—are the first subjects of Adam’s reinterpretation of medieval French history. Scholars have concluded that the myths of Isabeau’s scandalous past are just that: rumors that evolved after her death in the context of a political power struggle. Unfortunately, this has not prevented the lies from finding their way into respected studies on the period. Adams’s own work serves as a corrective, rehabilitating the reputation of the good queen and exploring the larger topic of memory and the creation of myth.

Adams next challenges the general perception that the queen lacked political acumen. With her husband incapacitated by insanity, Isabeau was forced to rule a country ripped apart by feuding, power-hungry factions. Adams argues that Isabeau handled her role astutely in such a contentious environment, preserving the monarchy from the incursions of the king’s powerful male relatives.

Taking issue with history’s harsh treatment of a woman who ruled under difficult circumstances, Adams convincingly recasts Isabeau as a respected and competent queen.

Reviews

Reviews

This is a fascinating reassessment of medieval French history.

Adams's technically proficient work warrants a place in a series devoted to rethinking theoretical models and approaches.

This is a remarkable book that warrants a long and detailed review.

Adams has produced an extremely interesting book, which will undoubtedly encourage further debate about Isabeau of Bavaria... a stimulating and thought provoking read.

This book is of use to all historians who want to rethink critically the basic tenets of how we approach our subjects and the various ways in which we analyse, interpret, and criticize their actions and make or unmake their historical reputations.

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Book Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Isabeau of Bavaria: Her Life
2. Isabeau of Bavaria: Her Afterlife
3. Isabeau Mediatrix: Defining the Mediator Queen
4. Isabeau's Contemporary Reputation
5. Isabeau of Bavaria

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Isabeau of Bavaria: Her Life
2. Isabeau of Bavaria: Her Afterlife
3. Isabeau Mediatrix: Defining the Mediator Queen
4. Isabeau's Contemporary Reputation
5. Isabeau of Bavaria and the Cour amoureuse
6. Reinterpreting the Enlèvement du dauphin
7. Revisiting the Treaty of Troyes
8. Wife, Mother, Friend
Conclusion
Appendix: Families and Allies of Isabeau and Charles VI
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
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Tracy Adams

Tracy Adams is a senior lecturer in French at the University of Auckland and author of Violent Passions: Managing Love in the Medieval French Romance.