100 books like The Cloistered Lady

By Coirle Mooney,

Here are 100 books that The Cloistered Lady fans have personally recommended if you like The Cloistered Lady. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Stone Rose

Lee Swanson Author Of Her Dangerous Journey Home

From my list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first recollection of a fascination with medieval history occurred while watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. I soon exhausted our school library’s limited selection of tales of kings and castles. Much later, a history degree and decades spent in Germany and England allowed me to delve deeply into historical research, gaining a specialized knowledge into the areas in which I was most interested. I am particularly fascinated with the lives of women, most of whom medieval chroniclers relegate to a brief mention as wives and mothers. There are clearly stories here yet to be told and I am always excited to learn of new scholarship.

Lee's book list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists

Lee Swanson Why did Lee love this book?

How can I write about fierce women of the Middle Ages and not include the woman referred to by the sobriquet She-Wolf of France?

Carol McGrath’s The Stone Rose presents the story of Queen Isabella’s strength and determination framed around her ill-fated marriage to King Edward II in a beautiful tapestry threaded with both painstakingly researched historical fact and masterfully imaginative fiction.

The author’s extensive knowledge of the time period is evidenced by the accuracy of detail that is interwoven into the narrative. Since Edward’s reign forms the backdrop for my series, my own interest is obvious; however, the tale of Isabella’s struggle to protect herself and those she loves in the face of rampant intrigue and treachery will appeal to all.

By Carol McGrath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stone Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A real tour de force of gripping writing, rich historical detail and complex, fascinating characters. Superb!' NICOLA CORNICK on The Stone Rose
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EARLY READERS ARE GRIPPED BY THE STONE ROSE!

* 'Springs to vivid life for the reader . . . A compulsive read' ANNE O'BRIEN

* 'An enticing and intriguing tale of a woman who is driven to desperate and ruthless lengths to protect those she loves' ALEXANDRA WALSH

* 'Carol McGrath really got into Isabella's head . . . Enlightening' SHARON BENNETT CONNOLLY

* 'Bold and compelling' JENNY BARDEN

* 'A novel that's a definite page-turner' LIZ…


Book cover of The Girl Empress: The Chronicle of Maud

Lee Swanson Author Of Her Dangerous Journey Home

From my list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first recollection of a fascination with medieval history occurred while watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. I soon exhausted our school library’s limited selection of tales of kings and castles. Much later, a history degree and decades spent in Germany and England allowed me to delve deeply into historical research, gaining a specialized knowledge into the areas in which I was most interested. I am particularly fascinated with the lives of women, most of whom medieval chroniclers relegate to a brief mention as wives and mothers. There are clearly stories here yet to be told and I am always excited to learn of new scholarship.

Lee's book list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists

Lee Swanson Why did Lee love this book?

Civil war has threatened ruling monarchs several times in English history.

The first instance is the bloody 12th-century conflict between King Stephen and the rival claimant, his cousin Matilda. Yet, the woman known as Empress Maud had already experienced an incredible life before returning to England in 1139 to challenge Stephen’s rule.

The early years of this truly remarkable woman's life are masterfully recounted in Amy Mantravadi’s The Girl Empress. Despite being a first-person narrative, the author has deftly interwoven a myriad of twelfth-century minutiae that should satisfy both readers enamored with historical detail as well as those craving a rollicking adventure story.

I especially liked how the author incorporated other historical figures into the story; each of these encounters was like finding a little jewel.

By Amy Mantravadi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl Empress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history books remember her as Empress Mathilda, but her path to sovereignty began when she was just a girl named Maud. Engaged, estranged, and crowned by the age of twelve, this is her story . . . As the firstborn legitimate child of King Henry I of England, Princess Maud is faced with the fiercest crisis of her eight-year-old life when she learns that she will be sent to Germany to marry the Holy Roman Emperor. To make matters worse, her husband-to-be is in the midst of a disagreement with the Pope, and the threat of civil war continuously…


Book cover of Lotharingia: Charlemagne's Heir

Lee Swanson Author Of Her Dangerous Journey Home

From my list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first recollection of a fascination with medieval history occurred while watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. I soon exhausted our school library’s limited selection of tales of kings and castles. Much later, a history degree and decades spent in Germany and England allowed me to delve deeply into historical research, gaining a specialized knowledge into the areas in which I was most interested. I am particularly fascinated with the lives of women, most of whom medieval chroniclers relegate to a brief mention as wives and mothers. There are clearly stories here yet to be told and I am always excited to learn of new scholarship.

Lee's book list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists

Lee Swanson Why did Lee love this book?

For medieval women, the right to assume title and property upon the death of their fathers or husbands could not be taken for granted. Most succumbed to the pressure to marry and relinquished their right to rule to conniving husbands, trapping themselves in loveless relationships.

A few, such as Matilda of Canossa, refused to be cowed into submission. Lara Byrne’s Lotharingia: Charlemagne’s Heir, is a wonderfully engaging blend of scholarly research and rich storytelling detailing the early life of this courageous woman. The characterizations are beautifully well-developed; I found some to virtually leap off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Like Christina Kohl in my series, Comitissa Matilda is a woman unafraid, whether to pursue forbidden love or to wield a sword in battle.

By Lara Byrne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lotharingia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A unique tale of love and politics, betrayal and survival, male and female power, relics and prophecies, against the Machiavellian backdrop of the Investiture Controversy.


A.D. 1062. The Holy Roman Emperor is dead, and his underage son, snatched from his mother, is a puppet in the hands of regents. The fate of the empire lies in the hands of three women. Surprisingly, the Church takes their side, but Rome’s support has a price. Matilde refuses to be a pawn in the marriage game. Is she the child of Charlemagne’s prophecy? HFC 2021 BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD WINNER (WORLD HISTORICAL…


Book cover of The Greenest Branch: A Novel of Germany's First Female Physician

Lee Swanson Author Of Her Dangerous Journey Home

From my list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first recollection of a fascination with medieval history occurred while watching Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood. I soon exhausted our school library’s limited selection of tales of kings and castles. Much later, a history degree and decades spent in Germany and England allowed me to delve deeply into historical research, gaining a specialized knowledge into the areas in which I was most interested. I am particularly fascinated with the lives of women, most of whom medieval chroniclers relegate to a brief mention as wives and mothers. There are clearly stories here yet to be told and I am always excited to learn of new scholarship.

Lee's book list on medieval fiction with fierce female protagonists

Lee Swanson Why did Lee love this book?

During my years in Germany, a favorite getaway was a stroll through the vineyards above the town of Rüdesheim am Rhein to the Abbey of St, Hildegard.

Well-familiar with the life of this brilliant, multi-faceted woman, I was hesitant to undertake P.K. Adams’ novel The Greenest Branch, especially when I discovered it was written in the first person. To my delight, I found my fears to be unfounded. The author has masterfully captured what I believe to be the spiritual essence of Hildegard in both her narrative and dialogue.

Adams’ portrayal of Hildegard’s struggle against the misogyny of the 12th century Church, as personified by Prior Helenger, forms a central conflict to the novel; as does her self-denial of worldly pleasures of the flesh while embracing the pain of self-mortification.

By P K Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Greenest Branch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Hauntingly beautiful and meticulously researched. P.K. Adams writes about the Middle Ages like someone who has lived there. Hildegard’s story is inspiring, and her voice feels so real that it’s almost spooky.” – Jessica Cale, author of Tyburn.

In The Greenest Branch the medieval era comes vividly to life in all its romanticism and splendor, but the societal strictures that prevent women from being able to access education and live independent lives are also on display.

The year is 1115, and Germany is torn apart by a conflict between the Emperor and the Pope over who should have the right…


Book cover of The Queen's Man

Felicity Pulman Author Of Blood Oath

From my list on medieval murders and mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

After enjoying Josephine Tey’s wonderful Daughter of Time, in which she exonerates Richard III from the crime of murdering the princes in the tower, followed by the Brother Cadfael mysteries, I became hooked on historical crimes and decided to try writing them myself! It was quite a challenge researching both the history and the settings from Australia, but the novels became a wonderful excuse for lengthy visits to travel around Great Britain and France. As well as writing the Janna Chronicles, my passion for history has also prompted several other published novels and series, including the Shalott trilogy.

Felicity's book list on medieval murders and mysteries

Felicity Pulman Why did Felicity love this book?

Bastard-born Justin de Quincy becomes ‘the Queen’s Man’ after carrying an important letter from a dying man to Eleanor of Aquitaine. He is charged by Eleanor to keep her son John out of mischief and thwart his efforts to become king while she sets about raising the ransom money to bail Richard the Lionheart out of his prison in Austria. As a roving trouble-shooter, Justin is supported by the under-sheriff of Hampshire and a sergeant, Jonas, but things become complicated after he falls for the Lady Claudine, who is close to John, while the Queen’s double agent, Durant, also poses a threat. I enjoyed reading about all the intrigues of the court as Justin solves crimes and murders. 

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen's Man as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

England, 1193: a land rife with rumours about the fate of its missing king. Justin de Quincy travels from Winchester to London. With a promise to a dying man, he is plunged into the conspiracy surrounding the disappearence of Richard the Lionheart, and under oath to reveal the truth to the Queen.


Book cover of Heroines of the Medieval World

J.P. Reedman Author Of Dangereuse

From my list on lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since early childhood I have had a passion for medieval times. I can remember climbing my first castle keep at 4. I became particularly interested in lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen when I moved to Amesbury in Wiltshire—and found out that Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, was buried somewhere in the grounds of the nearby rest home, her grave lost since the Reformation. I wrote a novel on her life which became more successful than I could have ever imagined, and now I am a full-time author writing further novels about medieval women, as well as the Wars of the Roses…and Stonehenge.

J.P.'s book list on lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen

J.P. Reedman Why did J.P. love this book?

Sharon Bennett Connolly’s book covers important women who lived throughout the Middle Ages, including many who are very little known. The style is easy to read and never dry, and leaves you eager to research these women more. Included are Nicholaa, a woman Sheriff and Constable, and Maude who spoke out against ‘bad King John’ and paid with her life. Some of the stories almost feel like fiction they are so dramatic…but all are true!

By Sharon Bennett Connolly,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Heroines of the Medieval World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

These are the stories of women, famous, infamous and unknown, who shaped the course of medieval history. The lives and actions of medieval women were restricted by the men who ruled the homes, countries and world they lived in. It was men who fought wars, made laws and dictated religious doctrine. It was men who were taught to read, trained to rule and expected to fight. Today, it is easy to think that all women from this era were downtrodden and obedient housewives, whose sole purpose was to give birth to children (preferably boys) and serve their husbands. Heroines of…


Book cover of The Ebony Tower

Rosalind Brackenbury Author Of The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

From my list on set in France with themes to match.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m fascinated by these themes – love, France, mystery, women’s lives, war, and peace. My parents took me to France when I was 12 and I’ve spent years there in between and go back whenever I can. I started reading in French when sent to be an au pair in Switzerland when I was 17. My own novel, The Lost Love Letters Of Henri Fournier was absorbing to write as it contains all of the above. I found an unpublished novel of Fournier’s in a village in rural France a few years ago and decided I had to write about him and his lover, Pauline, who was a famous French actress. 

Rosalind's book list on set in France with themes to match

Rosalind Brackenbury Why did Rosalind love this book?

Another story that's impossible to forget – actually this is a novella in a collection of stories with this name. Again, about a lost house in a forest in France, an artist, a young man in love, and the two young women who bewitch him in turns. John Fowles is an English writer from the 1960s, whose work I loved when young and still do. He was much influenced by Alain-Fournier.

By John Fowles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ebony Tower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ebony Tower, comprising a novella, three stories, and a translation of a medieval French tale, echoes themes from John Fowles's internationally celebrated novels as it probes the fitful relations between love and hate, pleasure and pain, fantasy and reality.


Book cover of The Waning of the Middle Ages: A Study of the Forms of Life, Thought and Art in France and The Netherlands in the XIVth and XVth Centuries

Tania Bayard Author Of In The Presence of Evil

From my list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an art historian and a horticulturist, specializing in the art, architecture, and gardens of the Middle Ages, and I’ve published a number of books on these subjects. But I’ve always loved mystery stories, and I dreamed of writing one of my own. When I discovered Christine de Pizan, an extraordinary personage who defied all the stereotypes about medieval women, I decided to write a series of mystery novels featuring her as the sleuth.

Tania's book list on a remarkable medieval woman, Christine de Pizan

Tania Bayard Why did Tania love this book?

I love this classic study in which Huizinga vividly portrays the colorful era in which my heroin, Christine de Pizan, lived. Huizinga shows that late medieval society was full of striking contradictions, among them chivalry vs cruelty, courtly love vs vengeance, blissful visions of heaven vs horrific visions of Hell. 

By Johan Huizinga,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Waning of the Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“To the world when it was half a thousand years younger,” Huizinga begins, “the outline of all things seemed more clearly marked than to us.” Life seemed to consist in extremes—a fierce religious asceticism and an unrestrained licentiousness, ferocious judicial punishments and great popular waves of pity and mercy, the most horrible crimes and the most extravagant acts of saintliness—and everywhere a sea of tears, for men have never wept so unrestrainedly as in those centuries.

First published in 1924, this brilliant portrait of the life, thought, and art in France and the Netherlands in the 14th and 15th centuries…


Book cover of The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751

James Calbraith Author Of The Saxon Spears: An Epic of the Dark Age

From my list on Barbarian Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my novels, I aim to present a different vision of early Post-Roman Britain than the one usually imagined in fiction – especially in the future Kingdom of Kent, where my books are set. To show these connections, and to present the greater background for the events in the novels, I first needed to gain knowledge of what Europe itself looked like in this period: a Gaul divided between Gothic, Frankish, and Roman administration, a complex interplay of Romans and Barbarians, a world in transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. The story gleaned from the pages of these books proved as fascinating and intriguing as any I’ve ever read.

James' book list on Barbarian Europe

James Calbraith Why did James love this book?

The Merovingians – the Frankish royal family – were the closest, and most powerful, neighbour to the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the Early Middle Ages. They influenced trade, culture, and religion of early England, at times as partners, at times as hegemons of the island. At the same time, they built the foundation on which the Carolingians built their empire, the New Rome that would control the great swathes of Europe for centuries to come. Ian Wood’s excellent book is possibly the most detailed account of their rule ever written. 

By Ian Wood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Merovingian Kingdoms 450 - 751 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive survey which begins with the rise of the Franks, then examines the Merovingians.


Book cover of Queens, Concubines, and Dowagers: The King's Wife in the Early Middle Ages

Miriam Shadis Author Of Berenguela of Castile (1180-1246) and Political Women in the High Middle Ages

From my list on medieval women’s history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of medieval women, especially women in the Iberian peninsula, and royal women. I became interested in Berenguela of Castile through studying her sister, Blanche, who was queen and regent of France. I learned about Blanche through studying Cistercian architecture – I remain really interested in material culture, memorialization, interpersonal relationships (like motherhood!), and political life in the medieval world, all of which I study primarily through the lens of gender. I still turn to these classic, foundational works on medieval women when I want to teach students how the field developed, and when I want to understand essential premises about Iberia, motherhood, religion, queenship, and historiography. 

Miriam's book list on medieval women’s history

Miriam Shadis Why did Miriam love this book?

Last, but certainly not least, Queens, Concubines, and Dowagers was a book that helped formed the field of queenship studies, now a booming industry. Stafford teaches us how to think about the meaning of queenship, the sources and limits of the queen’s power, and the evolution of her office; she tells the stories of a number of remarkable early medieval women along the way in what is now England, France, and Germany. Deeply influential for me as I sought ways to think about queenship in later periods, this book remains widely available, accessible, and influential.

By Pauline Stafford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Queens, Concubines, and Dowagers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A biography of the queens and royal bedfellows of the 6th to the 11th centuries, providing an assessment of their political importance and the many factors that affected their personal lives.


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