The Rival Queens

The Rival Queens

Catherine De' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite De Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited A Kingdom

Book - 2015
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Goldstone documents the turbulent mother-daughter relationship between Catherine de' Medici and Marguerite de Valois to explore the court politics, assassinations, espionage and betrayals that shaped their time.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown, and Company,, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316409650
Branch Call Number: 944.028 C286g 2015
Characteristics: xii, 434 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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Nov 14, 2017

Nancy Goldstone's account of the three-way struggle between the French monarchy, for many years led by the Queen Mother Catherine de'Medici ; the aristocratic leaders of the Protestant faction, including Prince "of the blood" Henry of Navarre; and the increasingly reactionary Catholic League is fascinating. I was taught about this time period only through the stories of Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. I had no idea that while Catholic, Catherine's attempts to broker deals between the warring religious sects very nearly cost her son, Henri III, the throne. Goldstone's sympathies are largely with Marguerite de Valois who might easily have remained no more than a victim of her family's treachery and her husband's indifference. Instead she learned to fight for herself and a younger brother who attempted a daring plan to stop the civil war engulfing France.

Aug 31, 2017

This is a wonderfully interesting biography of these two queens, very well written by a great author. I highly recommended this book to anybody who is interested in the history of 16th century France.

Dec 08, 2015

I've always found the 1500s a fascinating period in history. Before moving on to learn more about the Habsbergs I discovered this wonderfully entertaining book on Catherine de' Medici and her own daughter the Queen of Navarre. (A fictionally compressed view of their relationship was made in France called La Reine Margot or Queen Margot which is available at the library. Bloody, sexy and virile.) The history of the civil wars is certainly fascinating but this is told by an author with a deliciously funny sense of humour. I cannot remember the last time I laughed reading a history book. Great fun.

Sep 10, 2015

The damage dysfunctional families cause can reverberate down the generations. That's bad enough. When the families are rulers, the reverberations are even more widespread. Catherine d' Medici was raised, more or less, by her uncle the Pope after her parents died. He sent her to France to marry the second son of the king. Barren Catherine couldn't compete with Henri's beloved mistress, which became important when the first son, the heir to the throne, died. When Catherine did have multiple children by her husband, now King Henri II, she made the mistake of choosing favorites. Her youngest, Marguerite de Valois, the family beauty, was on the bottom of the heap, never getting her mother's favorable attention. Catherine used all her children as political pawns, as she'd been used, none more than Marguerite. She married her off to her cousin Henry of Navarre, who was a Huguenot in a heavily Catholic country. Their wedding sparked the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, in the mid 1500s, and the couple ended up hating each other. Goldstone's research is deep and sound. Catherine is clearly the heavy, and Marguerite the nearly blameless victim. Probably things were a bit more even than that, though Catherine had the upper hand in terms of power. Goldstone overstates her case in her titles; this is no exception. Still, a fascinating view of a difficult century for France.


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