Book Review: ‘The Tragic Daughters of Charles I’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Far more has been written about the sons of King Charles I and his queen, Henrietta Maria, than about the daughters who were born of the couple—perhaps understandably, since both Charles and James became kings. But with such works as Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII, The Tudor Brandons, Catherine of Braganza, Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots and Anne of Cleves already under her belt, author Sarah-Beth Watkins seeks to address this by shedding light on the lives of three of the daughters— Elizabeth, Mary, and Henrietta Anne—in her new book, The Tragic Daughters of Charles I. Covering three biographical subjects in one work is no mean feat and would be daunting for many a historian, but Watkins—wonderfully utilising primary sources throughout—pulls it off with aplomb.

Personally, I felt that the book was a bit too short for the subject matter (only 165 pages including references), but that doesn’t stop readers from getting a good overview on the lives of these princesses. The cover features a wonderful portrait of Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, but there aren’t any interior images of any of the three women but several of men (Cromwell, Louis XIV etc). Also, I really wish that an Index was included because that is just such a help for researchers and general readers alike. These things aside, The Tragic Daughters of Charles I is a well-written and enlightening work which provides a concise and informative overview of the lives of these three often-overlooked princesses, whilst retaining an accessible style which will no doubt be welcome for readers of the Stuart period, new and old alike.

[I received this book in exchange for an honest review and a longer, more detailed review has been submitted to and accepted by the Royal Studies Journal].

TSCL rating: 4/5

Hear ye! 3 thoughts — so far — on “Book Review: ‘The Tragic Daughters of Charles I’ by Sarah-Beth Watkins”:

  1. Sarah Johnson

    Do I understand you as saying that a longer longer, indexed version of the book will be available later, or that this is a short version of your longer review which will appear elsewhere? I’m with you; why write a serious history book and not include an index. Much better to make it a longer book, include an index, and charge more. I for one don’t take books seriously if there is no index.

    1. Andrea Zuvich Post author

      Sorry for the confusion, Sarah, I meant that I wrote a longer and more detailed review for the academic journal Royal Studies Journal. I’ll post a link here when that is published.

      As for the index, it’s not usually up to the author and I’ve had experiences where I wanted an index but the publisher didn’t, so it’s a difficult situation. I enjoyed this book, but I was disappointed about the lack of index.

      Hope you are well.


      1. Sarah Johnson

        Thank you, Andrea … very well, and looking forward to your longer review. These were three strategically placed women, and I suspect they had interesting “behind the scenes” roles in the Civil War and European politics. I will stay tuned. Stay well yourself.


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