The riveting history of a beautiful queen, a shocking murder, a papal trial -- and a reign as triumphant as any in the Middle Ages.
On March 15, 1348, twenty-two-year-old Joanna I, Queen of Naples, stood trial for the murder of her husband before the Pope and his court in Avignon. Determined to defend herself, Joanna won her acquittal against overwhelming odds. Victorious, she returned to Naples and ruled over one of Europe's most prestigious courts for the next three decades -- until she herself was killed.
Courageous and determined, Joanna was the only female monarch in her time to rule in her own name. She was widely admired: dedicated to the welfare of her subjects, she reduced crime, built hospitals and churches, and encouraged the licensing of female physicians. A procession of the most important artists and writers of the time frequented her glittering court. But she never quite escaped the stain of her husband's death, and the turmoil of the times surrounded her -- war, plague, and treachery would ultimately be her undoing.
With skill, passion, and impeccable research and detail, Nancy Goldstone brings to life one of history's most remarkable women. The Lady Queen is a captivating portrait of medieval royalty in all its incandescent complexity.
Resilient Queen Joanna of Naples (1326 1382) weathered overwhelming political challenges, financial ruin and a papal-run murder trial for the death of her Hungarian husband all by age 22. Veteran author Goldstone (Four Queens) expertly describes bloodthirsty 14th-century politics and the complex family entanglements that encouraged siblings and cousins to clash over kingdoms like toddlers brawling over toys. Adding to the fray was Joanna's military support for "anti-pope" Clement VII against Pope Urban VI, ultimately helping create the Great Schism. Although primarily set in pre-Renaissance Naples, familiar contemporaries such as England's Black Prince and St. Catherine of Siena appear. Joanna repeatedly suffered violently jealous consorts, intrusive popes and envious relatives. Goldstone effectively proves Joanna's innate leadership through the queen's mastery of complex legal arguments and her formidable resilience through four husbands and relentless challenges to her royal status. Packed with action and effortless to read, Goldstone's account will satisfy scholars and entertain book clubs with a heroine who had persistence and unbounded dedication to her realm. 16 pages of color illus; 3 maps.