The powerful and moving story of three royal mothers whose quest for power led to the downfall of their daughters.
Queen Isabella of Castile, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, and Queen Victoria of England were respected and admired rulers whose legacies continue to be felt today. Their daughters—Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England; Queen Marie Antoinette of France; and Vicky, the Empress Frederick of Germany—are equally legendary for the tragedies that befell them, their roles in history surpassed by their triumphant mothers. In Triumph's Wake is the first book to bring together the poignant stories of these mothers and daughters in a single narrative.
Isabella of Castile forged a united Spain and presided over the discovery of the New World, Maria Theresa defeated her male rivals to claim the Imperial Crown, and Victoria presided over the British Empire. But, because of their ambition and political machinations, each mother pushed her daughter toward a marital alliance that resulted in disaster. Catherine of Aragon was cruelly abandoned by Henry VIII who cast her aside in search of a male heir and tore England away from the Pope. Marie Antoinette lost her head on the guillotine when France exploded into Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Vicky died grief-stricken, horrified at her inability to prevent her son, Kaiser Wilhelm, from setting Germany on a belligerent trajectory that eventually led to war.
Exhaustively researched and utterly compelling, In Triumph's Wake is the story of three unusually strong women and the devastating consequences their decisions had on the lives of their equally extraordinary daughters.
Historian Gelardi (Born to Rule) focuses on the fates of three pairs of royal mothers and daughters: Isabella of Castile and Catherine of Aragon, Maria Theresa and Marie Antoinette, and Queen Victoria and Empress Frederick. The unusual melding of Spanish, English, Austrian, French and Prussian history into one sweeping project is done with remarkable clarity and verve. Excerpts of her subjects' letters are integrated flawlessly into the sequence of events. Gelardi is also skilled in placing actions within the larger historical framework of international relations, as well as genetics Gelardi traces the devastating effects of hemophilia on royal families in one of her most interesting tangents. The personal relationships portrayed are layered and complex, and tidbits regarding fashion and Queen Victoria's childhood love of dolls are not to be missed. Gelardi's incessant need to justify connecting the three monarchs and their daughters through similarities in personality, political accomplishments and unusually loving relationships is annoying, but she still produces an excellent, comprehensive study of six fascinating women and the troubled times that shaped their lives. 16 pages of color photos.