100 books like The Dark Queens

By Shelley Puhak,

Here are 100 books that The Dark Queens fans have personally recommended if you like The Dark Queens. 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 Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568

Patrick J. Geary Author Of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

From my list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

Patrick Geary is Professor of History Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at UCLA. He is the author of some fifteen books and many articles and edited volumes on a broad range of topics including barbarian migrations, religious history, ethnicity, nationalism, genetic history, and the modern misuse of ancient and medieval history in the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. Currently he co-directs an international, interdisciplinary project funded by an ERC Synergy Grant that uses genomic, historical, and archaeological data to understand population structures during the so-called Migration period at the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Patrick's book list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary Why did Patrick love this book?

Guy Halsall has a comprehensive knowledge of the history and archaeology of the early Middle Ages as well as a firm control of all of the centuries of debates and controversies about this period.

He cuts through a lot of the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of this crucial period of history. Often opinionated but never dull, he provides the best general narrative guide to date in English on the transformation of Western Europe.

By Guy Halsall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Barbarian Migrations and the Roman West, 376-568 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a major survey of the barbarian migrations and their role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the creation of early medieval Europe, one of the key events in European history. Unlike previous studies it integrates historical and archaeological evidence and discusses Britain, Ireland, mainland Europe and North Africa, demonstrating that the Roman Empire and its neighbours were inextricably linked. A narrative account of the turbulent fifth and early sixth centuries is followed by a description of society and politics during the migration period and an analysis of the mechanisms of settlement and the changes of identity.…


Book cover of Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800

Patrick J. Geary Author Of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

From my list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

Patrick Geary is Professor of History Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at UCLA. He is the author of some fifteen books and many articles and edited volumes on a broad range of topics including barbarian migrations, religious history, ethnicity, nationalism, genetic history, and the modern misuse of ancient and medieval history in the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. Currently he co-directs an international, interdisciplinary project funded by an ERC Synergy Grant that uses genomic, historical, and archaeological data to understand population structures during the so-called Migration period at the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Patrick's book list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary Why did Patrick love this book?

Rather than following a chronological order or a political narrative, Wickham, the leading British historian of the Early Middle Ages, takes a thematic and regional approach to the transformation of the Roman world across the Mediterranean.

His dense comparisons of the economic and social structures of specific regions, both some like Denmark and Ireland that were never part of the Roman Empire, as well as core regions around the entire Mediterranean, highlight the diversity already existing within the Roman Empire and the differing fates of these regions as they emerged from its disappearance.

By Chris Wickham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman empire tends to be seen as a whole whereas the early middle ages tends to be seen as a collection of regional histories, roughly corresponding to the land-areas of modern nation states. As a result, early medieval history is much more fragmented, and there have been few convincing syntheses of socio-economic change in the post-Roman world since the 1930s. In recent decades, the rise of early medieval archaeology has also transformed our source-base, but
this has not been adequately integrated into analyses of documentary history in almost any country.
In Framing the Early Middle Ages Chris Wickham combines…


Book cover of History, Frankish Identity and the Framing of Western Ethnicity, 550–850

Patrick J. Geary Author Of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

From my list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

Patrick Geary is Professor of History Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at UCLA. He is the author of some fifteen books and many articles and edited volumes on a broad range of topics including barbarian migrations, religious history, ethnicity, nationalism, genetic history, and the modern misuse of ancient and medieval history in the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. Currently he co-directs an international, interdisciplinary project funded by an ERC Synergy Grant that uses genomic, historical, and archaeological data to understand population structures during the so-called Migration period at the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Patrick's book list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary Why did Patrick love this book?

For two centuries, Europeans have tried to find in the peoples of the early Middle Ages the ethnic origins of their own nations.

The Franks were the most successful of these peoples, appearing first as a minor group along the lower Rhine but ultimately, under Charlemagne, creating a vast empire that encompassed much of what had been the Roman Empire in the West.

However, in this extraordinary book Reimitz shows how protean Frankish ethnic identity was across this period.

Relying on close readings of historical texts and their manuscript transmission, constantly amended, re-edited, and transformed, he shows how Frankish identity was constantly disputed and renegotiated, ultimately moving far from classical notions of ethnicity to an imperial identity and then to a notion of the Franks as one of a number of Christian peoples chosen by God to rule the West.

By Helmut Reimitz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History, Frankish Identity and the Framing of Western Ethnicity, 550–850 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This pioneering study explores early medieval Frankish identity as a window into the formation of a distinct Western conception of ethnicity. Focusing on the turbulent and varied history of Frankish identity in Merovingian and Carolingian historiography, it offers a new basis for comparing the history of collective and ethnic identity in the Christian West with other contexts, especially the Islamic and Byzantine worlds. The tremendous political success of the Frankish kingdoms provided the medieval West with fundamental political, religious and social structures, including a change from the Roman perspective on ethnicity as the quality of the 'Other' to the Carolingian…


Book cover of The Avars: A Steppe Empire in Central Europe, 567–822

Patrick J. Geary Author Of The Myth of Nations: The Medieval Origins of Europe

From my list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages.

Why am I passionate about this?

Patrick Geary is Professor of History Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at UCLA. He is the author of some fifteen books and many articles and edited volumes on a broad range of topics including barbarian migrations, religious history, ethnicity, nationalism, genetic history, and the modern misuse of ancient and medieval history in the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries. Currently he co-directs an international, interdisciplinary project funded by an ERC Synergy Grant that uses genomic, historical, and archaeological data to understand population structures during the so-called Migration period at the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Patrick's book list on the end of Antiquity and the early Middle Ages

Patrick J. Geary Why did Patrick love this book?

Everyone has heard of the Franks, but few have any knowledge of the Avars, mounted warriors originating in Steppes of eastern Asia who created a vast empire between the Frankish and Byzantine worlds that endured longer than either the better-known Hunnic or Mongol empires.

Pohl’s book takes us out of the usual world of Germanic barbarian kingdoms and into a radically different kind of post-Roman world.

Drawing on Latin and Greek sources as well as vast amounts of archaeological research conducted over the past century, he introduces us to this multi-ethnic empire that stretched from the Vienna woods to Belgrade and which formed the crucible out of which emerged the South Slavic peoples and nations whose names persist until today.

By Walter Pohl,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Avars arrived in Europe from the Central Asian steppes in the mid-sixth century CE and dominated much of Central and Eastern Europe for almost 250 years. Fierce warriors and canny power brokers, the Avars were more influential and durable than Attila's Huns, yet have remained hidden in history. Walter Pohl's epic narrative, translated into English for the first time, restores them to their rightful place in the story of early medieval Europe.

The Avars offers a comprehensive overview of their history, tracing the Avars from the construction of their steppe empire in the center of Europe; their wars and…


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 Becoming Marie Antoinette

Juliana Cummings Author Of Sleeping With the Impaler: A Historical Romance About Vlad the Impaler

From my list on historical fiction that bring real people to life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been a reader and writer of historical fiction for as long as I remember. As a writer, my goal is to bring these figures from the past alive again. These were real people and I want my readers to see that they are not just photos or stories in a history book.

Juliana's book list on historical fiction that bring real people to life

Juliana Cummings Why did Juliana love this book?

Juliet Gray brought Marie Antoinette to life in this book. We got to understand her from such a young girl who had so much pressure put on her. We see her as kind and childlike but we also see how Marie does mature into a woman who strives to have a loving marriage with her husband while they rule France.

By Juliet Grey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.
 
Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

From my list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Whilst I was born in America, growing up in an old Irish family with a long history and a powerful sense of its past, I learnt a great deal of Irish, British, and European (especially French) history from an early age – proving valuable in both of my careers – one, as an international business lawyer, the other as a full-time writer of historical fiction. As a result of a “very Irish” numinous connection with the Gaelic poet, Eileen O’Connell, I frequently find myself drawn to books about strong, courageous, and memorable women – particularly those who lived in interesting times, such as the tumultuous days of Sixteenth and Eighteenth-Century Europe.  

Kevin's book list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe

Kevin O'Connell Why did Kevin love this book?

I am perhaps more familiar with – and fonder of – Marie Antoinette than I am of any other historical personage. Emersed in French history since an early age, I have had a near-lifetime fascination for this complicated woman – who never said, “Let them eat cake!” 

Having researched Antoinette exhaustively (most recently, in connection with her periodic appearances in my own books), since first reading Evelyn Lever’s masterful, beautifully-written work some twenty years ago, I have found myself frequently returning to it. I am drawn to it for its depth and detail, as well as her balanced treatment of an, in many ways, controversial figure. I recommend it as it is a perfect introduction to the life of a captivating woman, as well as presenting a highly satisfying experience for any lover of fine biography. 

By Evelyne Lever,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Married for political reasons at the age of 14, Marie Antoinette was naive, impetuous, and ill-equipped for the role in which history cast her. From her birth in Vienna in 1755 through her turbulent, unhappy marriage, the bloody turmoil of the French Revolution, her trial for high treason during which she was accused of incest, and her final beheading, Marie Antoinette's life was the tragic tale of disastrous circumstances colliding.

Drawing upon her diaries, letters, court records, and memoirs, Evelyne Lever paints a vivid portrait of Marie Antoinette, her inner circle, and the lavish court life at Versailles. What emerges…


Book cover of Marie Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen

Kathleen Wellman Author Of Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

From my list on women in early modern France.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of early modern France and a professor at Southern Methodist University, I have taken students to Paris on a study abroad program for more than twenty summers. Students were invariably intrigued by the relationship of Henry II, Catherine de Medici, and Diane de Poitiers. The young prince married Catherine de Medici at the age of fourteen but the thirty-six-year-old Diane de Poitiers became his mistress when he was sixteen and remained so for the rest of his life. The complexities of that relationship and the significance of both women led me to conclude that the history of the Renaissance could be told through the lives of the queens and mistresses.

Kathleen's book list on women in early modern France

Kathleen Wellman Why did Kathleen love this book?

This collection of articles offers an intriguing approach to the topic of women, power, and sex by focusing on the many uses of Marie Antoinette. The essays, by prominent historians, art historians, and literary scholars, examine Marie Antoinette as a “site of history” where political and cultural contests occurred. The authors analyze pamphlets, archival materials, portraits, French Revolutionary pornography, and modern films to consider the central questions Marie Antoinette raised about her identity as a foreign queen, woman, wife, mother, and political figure.

She embodied the contradictions in old regime politics, culture, and gender identity and has been used subsequently to address political and gender issues to the present. Each essay offers a distinct, intriguing perspective on the reciprocal influence of this queen and the history of France. The collection reveals the wealth of purposes this queen served and the rich variety of interpretations she provoked.

By Dena Goodman (editor), Thomas E. Kaiser (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marie-Antoinette is one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in all of French history. This volume explores the many struggles by various individuals and groups to put right Marie's identity, and it simultaneously links these struggles to larger destabilizations in social, political and gender systems in France.

Looking at how Marie was represented in politics, art, literature and journalism, the contributors to this volume reveal how crucial political and cultural contexts were enacted "on the body of the queen" and on the complex identity of Marie. Taken together, these essays suggest that it is precisely because she came to…


Book cover of Becoming a Queen in Early Modern Europe: East and West

Elena Woodacre Author Of Queens and Queenship

From my list on queens and queenship.

Why am I passionate about this?

Queens and queenship is a topic that has fascinated me since childhood when I first read about women like Cleopatra and Eleanor of Aquitaine. They ignited a passion to learn about the lives of royal women which led me from the ancient Mediterranean to medieval Europe, on into the early modern era, and has now gone truly global. I am particularly passionate to draw out the hidden histories of all the women who aren’t as well-known as their more famous counterparts and push for a fully global outlook in both queenship and royal studies in the works I write and the journal and two book series that I edit.

Elena's book list on queens and queenship

Elena Woodacre Why did Elena love this book?

Early modern Europe is a ‘hot spot’ for queenship studies and there are countless individual biographies, works on groups of royal women and collections on key themes which I could have recommended. I’ve chosen this work as, like Earenfight, it is a great place to begin exploring what it meant to be a queen in this period. Unlike Earenfight, this book is divided up by key themes instead of working chronologically, exploring various facets such as royal weddings and ceremonial, motherhood and political agency. Kosior also brings together plenty of European examples to illustrate these themes and a distinctive feature is that she includes Polish royal women who are often missing in studies of queenship, which gives this book a unique and interesting angle.

By Kataryzna Kosior,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Becoming a Queen in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Queens of Poland are conspicuously absent from the study of European queenship-an absence which, together with early modern Poland's marginal place in the historiography, results in a picture of European royal culture that can only be lopsided and incomplete. Katarzyna Kosior cuts through persistent stereotypes of an East-West dichotomy and a culturally isolated early modern Poland to offer a groundbreaking comparative study of royal ceremony in Poland and France. The ceremonies of becoming a Jagiellonian or Valois queen, analysed in their larger European context, illuminate the connections that bound together monarchical Europe. These ceremonies are a gateway to a fuller…


Book cover of Portraits of the Queen Mother: Polemics, Panegyrics, Letters

Kathleen Wellman Author Of Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

From my list on women in early modern France.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of early modern France and a professor at Southern Methodist University, I have taken students to Paris on a study abroad program for more than twenty summers. Students were invariably intrigued by the relationship of Henry II, Catherine de Medici, and Diane de Poitiers. The young prince married Catherine de Medici at the age of fourteen but the thirty-six-year-old Diane de Poitiers became his mistress when he was sixteen and remained so for the rest of his life. The complexities of that relationship and the significance of both women led me to conclude that the history of the Renaissance could be told through the lives of the queens and mistresses.

Kathleen's book list on women in early modern France

Kathleen Wellman Why did Kathleen love this book?

From her arrival as a fourteen-year-old bride to her death as queen mother fifty-five years later, Catherine de Medici was praised as a devoted wife and mother and able ruler but also condemned as a foreigner, a poisoner, and murderer of Protestants. This rare collection of primary sources translated into English allows readers to become familiar with the sources of such positive and negative assessments of this controversial queen. The letters included here, selected from her many volumes of correspondence, reveal her concerns as a mother and as a political figure.

Excerpts from Venetian ambassadors' gossipy reports bring to light principal figures of the French court--their character, their motives, and political interests. Other sources in the collection extravagantly praise the character and actions of the queen. The several polemical sources included in the collection offer a sharp contrast. The vehement charges leveled against Catherine allow readers to recognize and understand…

By Catherine de Medicis, Leah L. Chang (translator), Katherine Kong (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Portraits of the Queen Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Catherine de Medicis was portrayed in her day as foreign usurper, loving queen and queen mother, patron of the arts, and Machiavellian murderer of Protestants. Leah L. Chang and Katherine Kong assemble a diverse array of scathing polemic and lofty praise, diplomatic reports, and Catherine's own letters, which together show how one extraordinary woman's rule intersected with early modern conceptions of gender, maternity, and power.


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Interested in France, queens, and the Middle Ages?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about France, queens, and the Middle Ages.

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