Two Houses, Two Kingdoms: A History of France and England, 1100–1300


Two Houses, Two Kingdoms: An exhilarating, accessible chronicle of the ruling families of France and England, showing how two dynasties formed one extraordinary story

The twelfth and thirteenth centuries were a time of personal monarchy, when the close friendship or petty feuding between kings and queens could determine the course of history. The Capetians of France and the Angevins of England waged war, made peace, and intermarried. The lands under the control of the English king once reached to within a few miles of Paris, and those ruled by the French house, at their apogee, crossed the Channel and encompassed London itself.

In this lively, engaging history, Catherine Hanley traces the great clashes, and occasional friendships, of the two dynasties. Along the way, she emphasizes the fascinating and influential women of the houses—including Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castille—and shows how personalities and familial bonds shaped the fate of two countries. This is a tale of two intertwined dynasties that shaped the present and the future of England and France, told through the stories of the people involved.

Editorial Review

Catherine Hanley’s book delves into the intricate, often contentious relationships between the ruling houses of Plantagenet and Capetian, and the realms they presided over. This historical exploration has long fascinated scholars and contemporaries alike. Hanley’s work provides a substantial analysis of the multifaceted connections that could manifest – whether through conflict, dynastic ties, diplomatic negotiations, or personal relationships – during the pivotal period between 1100 and 1300. This era marked a crucial phase of political evolution for both England and France.

Hanley’s book offers a cross-channel narrative, skillfully navigating both contexts, building on her prior research on Louis VIII and Empress Matilda. Rather than scrutinizing internal developments within each realm, her focus is on narrating the intertwined saga of two dynasties that significantly shaped the present and future of England and France. This approach aligns with the recent scholarly trend of examining medieval politics and polities through a dynastic lens, as seen in Robert Bartlett’s “Blood Royal.”

The book emphasizes the encounters and interactions between these families, commencing in 1100 when Louis, the son and co-king of Philip I of France, attended Henry I of England’s Christmas celebration. It culminates with the union of Edward II of England and Isabella, the daughter of France’s Philip IV, in January 1308. Hanley’s ambitious scope and the adept handling of this complex chronological span deserve commendation. In fact, one might wish for the narrative to extend slightly further, perhaps covering the abrupt fall of the Capetian crown upon Charles IV’s demise in 1328 or the initial signs of the ensuing conflict in 1337, to which she briefly alludes.

Two Houses, Two Kingdoms A History of France and England, 1100–1300 by Catherine Hanley
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Range: Adult
Start Rating: 4.6 stars
Publication Date: 22nd August 2023

Author: Catherine Hanley

Catherine Hanley

Catherine Hanley

Catherine Hanley, originally from Perth, Western Australia, embarked on an academic journey that led her to the University of Sheffield, where she obtained a degree and later completed her PhD. Her academic pursuits also included significant research contributions to the Partonopeus de Blois project. During this academic phase, Hanley delved into the captivating realm of medieval warfare and its depiction in contemporary narrative literature. Her in-depth understanding of this period of history culminated in the publication of her book, “War and Combat 1150-1270: The Evidence from Old French Literature.”

However, Hanley’s journey did not stop at academia. She transitioned into the world of historical fiction, and her work is best known for a series of medieval murder mystery novels that revolve around the enigmatic character, Edwin Weaver. These novels are set against the tumultuous backdrop of the baronial war in the early 13th century, a time when English nobles rebelled against King John, sought the rule of Prince Louis of France, and later reconsidered their loyalties following John’s death and the ascension of his young son, Henry III. Published by The History Press, the series includes titles like “The Sins of the Father,” which was recognized as Editor’s Choice in Historical Novels Review, along with several other captivating installments.

Hanley’s talents extend to the realm of non-fiction history as well. Her book, “Louis: The French Prince Who Invaded England,” a biography of Louis VIII of France, was published by Yale University Press in 2016. This work received acclaim from reviewers, who described it as ‘a captivating account’ (Publishers Weekly), ‘a fast-paced biography’ (The Times Literary Supplement), and ‘serious history, as well as a gripping and poignant story’ (BBC History Magazine). Her historical exploration also led to the publication of a biography on the Empress Matilda, titled “Matilda: Empress, Queen, Warrior,” which was well-received.

In 2022, Hanley released “Two Houses, Two Kingdoms: A History of France and England, 1100-1300,” a book that has garnered praise for its compelling narrative and solid scholarly foundation, as noted by the Times Literary Supplement.

In a diverse career, during the early 2000s, Catherine Hanley briefly ventured into cricket writing. Her articles found a home in publications such as Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, Wisden Cricket Monthly, and the website in the UK. Her cricket-writing expertise also extended to Australia, where she contributed to Inside Cricket and the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack Australia. In 2013, she made a short return to cricket writing, contributing articles for the Wisden India website.

Catherine Hanley’s multifaceted career has allowed her to explore and excel in various literary avenues, making her a noteworthy figure in the worlds of history and literature.


Source: (Medievalists, 2022)


  • Medievalists. (2022). Two Houses, Two Kingdoms with Catherine Hanley [YouTube Video]. In YouTube.

  • Wikipedia Contributors. (2023, March 17). Catherine Hanley. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.‌

  • Catherine Hanley – Historian and author. (2022).

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