Historical Musings #36: Reading Elizabeth Chadwick

Welcome to my monthly post on all things historical fiction. After putting thirty-five of these posts together since 2015 I’m starting to struggle for new ideas so while I rebuild my list of potential future topics, I thought I would try something slightly different for a few months: a series of posts on specific historical fiction authors. These should be relatively easy for me to write and will hopefully introduce new readers to some of my favourite authors. I’ve decided to start with Elizabeth Chadwick as I’ve just finished reading one of her books and am about to begin another.

Elizabeth Chadwick has written over twenty books set in the medieval period; her first, The Wild Hunt, was published in 1990 and her latest, Templar Silks, is out this month. Her earlier novels tend to feature fictional characters and storylines, while her more recent ones focus on the lives of real historical figures, particularly members of the Marshal and Bigod families. Let’s start by looking at the books I have already read (there are eight of them):

Lady of the English

Set during the period of civil war known as the Anarchy, this is the story of the Empress Matilda, daughter and heir of Henry I, who faces a battle with her cousin Stephen for the throne of England. Matilda’s son, Henry, will become the first Plantagenet king of England. We also follow the story of Matilda’s stepmother, Adeliza, another fascinating medieval woman.

The Champion

This one is set in France, Wales and England towards the end of the 12th century and follows the story of fictional heroine Monday de Cerizay and knight Alexander de Montroi. I learned a huge amount about jousts, tournaments and other knightly pursuits!

The Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy:

The Summer Queen
The Winter Crown
The Autumn Throne

This trilogy of novels about Eleanor of Aquitaine takes us through Eleanor’s entire life including her troubled marriage to King Louis VII of France, her relationship with her second husband, Henry II of England, her time in captivity following the breakdown of their marriage and the reigns of her sons Richard I and King John.

William Marshal books

The Greatest Knight
The Scarlet Lion – review coming soon

These two novels are based on the life of William Marshal – Earl of Pembroke, knight, statesman and adviser to five kings. I love Chadwick’s depiction of William and if the real man was anything like the fictional one, then he really deserved the title of ‘the greatest knight’.

Her newest novel, Templar Silks, is also part of the Marshal series, although I’m sure you would be able to read it as a standalone. I haven’t read it yet, but it follows William on his pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1183.

To Defy a King

This one tells the story of Mahelt Marshal, the daughter of William Marshal. As England descends into turmoil during the reign of King John, Mahelt finds herself in a situation where she must choose between her own family, the Marshals, and the family of her husband, Hugh Bigod.


The books I’ve listed above are the only ones I’ve read so far, but I also have three more Chadwick novels on my shelf which I’ve bought as I’ve come across second-hand copies:

The Love Knot
The Marsh King’s Daughter
Shadows and Strongholds

And here are the titles of her other books:

The Wild Hunt
The Running Vixen
The Leopard Unleashed
Children of Destiny
Shields of Pride
First Knight
The Conquest
Lords of the White Castle
The Winter Mantle
The Falcons of Montabard
A Place Beyond Courage
The Time of Singing

I don’t know much about any of these, apart from Lords of the White Castle which I started to read years ago and abandoned – although I can’t remember why, so I must try it again! I would like to read all of the others, except maybe First Knight which seems to be a novelisation of the 1995 film.

You can find out more about Elizabeth Chadwick by visiting her official website.

Look out for my reviews of The Scarlet Lion and Templar Silks in the next few weeks – and, of course, next month’s Historical Musings post when I will be choosing another author to write about.

Have you read any of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books? Which are your favourites?

31 thoughts on “Historical Musings #36: Reading Elizabeth Chadwick

    • Helen says:

      Thanks for your enthusiasm, Cirtnecce! I will be featuring some more of my favourite historical fiction authors in the next few months and I hope there will be some that interest you. 🙂

  1. Pam Thomas says:

    I enjoy all Elizabeth Chadwick’s books but I particularly like the earlier ones which feature fictional characters. The Wild Hunt is a lovely book and her first – it was also the first one I read. Great author, and a great idea!

    • Helen says:

      I haven’t read any of her very early books and have been wondering what they were like. The Wild Hunt does sound appealing, but I should probably read the three books I already have on my shelf first before adding any more!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, I enjoyed all three of the books in the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy. The first one was particularly interesting as I knew less about the early years of her life. I hope you like The Summer Queen – I’m sure it will have extra meaning for you with your personal connection.

  2. Margaret says:

    I’m glad you’ve decided to write about your favourite historical fiction authors – particularly this one as I keep seeing Elizabeth Chadwick’s books in the library and have been wondering whether they are any good. I’ll certainly borrow one next time I visit the library.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by Elizabeth Chadwick so far, so whichever of her books you pick up, I don’t think you can go wrong.

  3. Sandra says:

    Great idea for a series of posts, Helen. My daughter was named partly for Eleanor of Aquitaine so it would be great to read that trio of books one day.

    • Helen says:

      Eleanor is a lovely name – although Chadwick uses the spelling Alienor as she says that’s how it was probably written at the time. It’s a great trilogy about a fascinating woman.

  4. joulesbarham says:

    What a great idea to focus on Elizabeth Chadwick! I have really enjoyed her books, though I prefer the ones based on real historical figures, even if I knew nothing about William Marshal before reading the novels. I thought that the Eleanor trilogy was fascinating, even though I have read several books about her before and thought I knew the usual tales. I have just bought Templar Silks and am looking forward to reading it!

    • Helen says:

      I’ve read about Eleanor in other books too, but there was still a lot of information in the trilogy that was new to me and I really liked the way Chadwick portrayed her. I hope we both enjoy reading Templar Silks!

  5. Carmen says:

    I have several of her books, some that you mentioned included, on my TBR. It is good to know she is an author you like, so I’ll likely like her too.

  6. Yvonne says:

    I’ve read quite a few of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books (pre-blogging days). My introduction to her novels was her first, The Wild Hunt, and I’ve read all of her earlier novels up to The Greatest Knight. I’ve not picked up one of her books since then so I have a lot of catching up to do.

    • Helen says:

      I’m the opposite – I’ve read all of her recent books and very few of the earlier ones. I would highly recommend her Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy.

  7. whatmeread says:

    As you know, I read A Place Beyond Courage awhile back, and I was struck by John Marshall’s (John FitzGilbert’s) actions as opposed to the interpretation Chadwick put on them. I thought that maybe in real life he was a very bad guy, although I may not have expressed that explicity (I hinted). Well, I am reading The Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir, the first of four books about the Queens of England, and she mentions him as being one of the worst despoilers during Stephen’s reign, the Anarchy.

      • whatmeread says:

        I thought there was a big gap between his actions in the novel and how Chadwick interpreted them. For example, he casts off his wife of years, whom he married when she was his ward because of her money, for a younger version who could bring him into an alliance. But Chadwick depicted it as a romance. And he changed sides twice in the war, although I know that wasn’t unusual. Weir’s book only lists him in one sentence with two other men who were marauders during the war and were very much feared. Can’t remember the exact words.

  8. Kathy says:

    I have read all of Elizabeth Chadwick’s books and enjoyed them all. Her Eleanor of Aquitaine and
    William Marshal books are my favorites.

    • Helen says:

      It’s good to hear that you’re an Elizabeth Chadwick fan too, Kathy! Have you read her new book, The Irish Princess, yet? I’m hoping to start that one soon.

      • Kathy says:

        I have not read the Irish Princess yet, just saw it was out on Amazon not too long ago. I’m waiting for the
        price to go down a bit. I’ve found it takes longer for her books to be available in the U.S. as opposed
        to the U.K. I’ve even ordered her books directly from the U.K. In the past to get them sooner.

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