Book Review – Royal Witches by Gemma Holman




In this book, author Gemma Holman brings to our attention four powerful women of the 15th century but not for the reasons one may think.  Although I usually read/study history of earlier centuries, what I have read of these four women to date most certainly did not concern their accusations of witchcraft and heresy.  Royal Witches brings to light an aspect of their time and their lives that is truly fascinating and is given well-deserved airtime in this book.


Joan of Navarre was the richest woman in the land, at a time when war-torn England was penniless.


Eleanor Cobham was the wife of a weak king’s uncle – and her husband was about to fall from grace.


Jacquetta Woodville was a personal enemy of Warwick the Kingmaker, who was about to take his revenge


Elizabeth Woodville  was  the  widowed mother of a child king, fighting Richard III for her children’s lives.


The book is neatly divided into sections to tell the story of each unique woman.  The author is very good at telling the story from the outside in; coalescing an outer circle of players that gently winds down to the crux of the matter – the accusation of witchcraft.  I found the first story in the book, that of Joan of Navarre, particularly intriguing and what a fine line her story of accusation was treading.  Eleanor Cobham was someone I hardly knew anything about and this is another of the author’s talents – bringing the person to life in a readable dialogue, succinctly describing the situations these women found themselves in.


Buy here on Amazon (UK)


The book shows the uninitiated of the era, such as myself, that these women may have appeared to have it all and what glorious histories one may have read of them BUT how easy one could fall. History shows us that strong women in history – from all eras – were regarded with suspicion but Royal Witches highlights that throwing the accusation of witchcraft around leads to dire consequences, even for those considered intelligent and untouchable.

I would most certainly say the author has made an impressive landing on the historical non-fiction scene with this book and in my humble opinion, is up there with the likes of Sharon Bennett Connolly and Annie Whitehead in giving these forgotten and brave women from history their turn to shine.


Gemma Holman can be found on Twitter and her website Just History Posts






©2020 Louise Wyatt

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