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QUEENS OF ENGLAND
AND THEIR TIMES.
MATILDA, QUEEN OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR,
ADELAIDE, QUEEN OF WILLIAM THE FOURTH.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
346 & 348 BROADWAY.
M DCCC LVIII.
THESE volumes contain the memorials of the Queens of England from the Norman Conquest to the death of Queen Adelaide, in 1849.
The Memoirs are presented in chronologic order; and pains have been taken to render them truthful and life-like portraitures. The sayings, doings, manners of the royal ladies under notice, so far as reliable authorities have preserved them, have been impartially and faithfully chronicled ; and those of their letters that were available, have been introduced. Also interwoven with these particulars are many details, anecdotes, and circumstances connected with the British court and the people, which, besides imparting sketchy outlines of the characters of numerous illustrious individuals, are calculated to afford glimpses of the state of society and manners such as are not generally to be found in the ordinary Histories of England. Great attention has been bestowed upon the verification of dates. When recourse has been had to modern biographers and historians, their errors and prejudices have not been adopted; and whenever authentic information has been wanting, the lines between conjecture, traditional record, and undisputed fact have been carefully drawn.
As these volumes comprise the Lives of thirty-eight Queens-lives which extend over a period of eight centuries, from the age of feudality, chivalry, and romance, to that of steam-boats, railways, and electric telegraphs; it can scarcely be hoped that they are exempt from occasional error. Despite the utmost vigilance, a false date, a wrong name, may slip from the pen and escape observation ; even an important authority may occasionally be overlooked, or the author may be misled by the prejudice or false statement of the writer whom it is necessary for him to consult. However, it is hoped that, on examination, these errors, or omissions, will be found to be neither many nor important. Whatever they may be, they certainly are accidental, and not intentional. To render the work complete and accurate, no efforts have been spared ; and as the author has been unbiassed by party partiality, and, he believes, uninfluenced by religious, political, or other prejudices, he ventures to offer his labours, sensible as he is of their imperiections, to the indulgence of the press and the public.
These Memoirs were undertaken upwards of twenty years ago, at the request of an eminent and learned friend; but, for reasons of a private nature, before any portion of the manuscript went to press, the work was suspended, and so continued till after the author had returned from the far south, in 1852. During this period, Hannah Lawrence, Mary Howitt, the pre-eminently successful Agnes Strickland, and other less significant writers, published Memoirs of some of the Queens, whose lives are in regular chronologic succession comprised in the present work. Certainly, the best written, the most accurate, and the most copious of these biographies is that by Miss Strickland; and it is but justice to the gifted authoress of that valuable documentary work, “ The Lives of the Queens of England,” to acknowledge that to her labours in the path of regal biography-labours which can only be duly appreciated by those historic writers who “take nothing upon trust or second-handed” -the author of these volumes is indebted for many valuable suggestions, and for references to important authorities, which otherwise might have been entirely overlooked. Thanks also are due to the late learned Dr. Lingard, who, years back, favoured the author with much important information; likewise to several other obliging friends, for valuable assistance in translations from ancient records, and for obtaining copies of several valuable manuscripts.
Before concluding, it may be observed, that to avoid crowding the pages with a multitude of notes, the authorities from which the facts in these Memoirs have been obtained, have only been quoted occasionally ; and as space is precious, and a list of such authorities would probably prove of no interest to the general reader, the author need only state, that in the course of his labours he has consulted the chronicles and annals of the leading British and Continental Historians, the Rolls and Journals of Parliament, the collections of State Papers, the despatches of Ambassadors, the letters and confidential correspondence of Princes -of Ministers—of Ecclesiastics—and of persons in high and official stations, both at home and abroad; and the published and, whenever practicable, unpublished diaries and memoirs of courtiers, nobles, monks, nuns, and others, who had the means of obtaining authentic inform. ation of our Queens and their courts. These and other less important authorities (either the originals, or authentic copies or translations) have all been attentively perused and compared; the value and accu. racy of each have been carefully ascertained, and the text is the result.
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