Reviews of Matilda

“The biography of Matilda I’ve been waiting for: as clear-sighted, forthright and formidable as the empress herself. Catherine Hanley combines lucid scholarship with page-turning narrative; military expertise with a fine-grained understanding of the challenges facing a twelfth-century woman who sought to rule. The result – authoritative, human, and utterly compelling – is a triumph.”

Helen Castor, author of She-Wolves (this quote appears on the book jacket).

“Authoritative but accessible … This is excellent and reliable popular history, confidently relating the dramatic, compelling tale of a remarkable woman in remarkable times … this volume is designed for a wide readership and deserves to find one.”

Sean McGlynn, in The Spectator

“Lively and illuminating … wear[s] its considerable learning lightly … Catherine Hanley has written, in the best sense, an imaginative biography of a remarkable medieval woman.”

Peter Marshall, in Literary Review

“[An] impressive study … [Hanley] does a fine job of making the case for Matilda as a far more autonomous figure than historians have previously suggested.”

Kathryn Hughes, in The Guardian

“Lively and authoritative … Hanley’s anger at the limitations placed on such a capable woman is palpable … if Matilda’s story reveals much about the differences between the twelfth century and the present day, it also highlights some uncomfortable similarities.”

Katherine Harvey, in the TLS

“Exceptionally good … [Hanley has] read enormously in all the secondary sources about her subject, and her use of the primary sources is adroit …Hanley’s assessment of the various roles Matilda filled in her life is uniformly thought-provoking, and her portrayal of Matilda’s abilities as a military commander is convincing.”

Steve Donoghue, in Open Letters Review

“[Hanley] has succeeded admirably challenging the supposed scarcity of material by engaging in detective work which has uncovered documents of every type to shed light on one of the most important figures of the 12th century … a marvellous book.”

Rod McLary, Queensland Reviewers’ Collective