The riveting true story of mother-and-daughter queens Catherine de' Medici and Marguerite de Valois, whose wildly divergent personalities and turbulent relationship changed the shape of their tempestuous and dangerous century.
Set in magnificent Renaissance France, this is the story of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm.
Catherine de' Medici was a ruthless pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous "Queen Margot," was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control.
When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.
Rich in detail and vivid prose, Goldstone's narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, inter-national espionage, and adultery form the background to a story that includes such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus. The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition, and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.
Goldstone (The Lady Queen) upends conventional thought with this well-researched and well-written book, arguing that Catherine de' Medici (1519 1589), the French queen mother, was less Machiavellian in nature than generally believed and that she reacted to geopolitical situations with disastrous results for both her family and France. As a Catholic "power broker," de' Medici manipulated friends and rivals in her meticulous plan to ensure the marriage of her reluctant daughter Marguerite marriage to a French Huguenot (Protestant) prince then just as carefully had the new husband's wedding party slaughtered four days later. While this was clearly a ploy to combat the threat of a rising Protestantantism, it created an untenable political situation in France. For her part, Marguerite showed considerable intellect and negotiating skills as she maneuvered around religions, powerful French families, and constantly shifting political terrain while being sabotaged by her family and husband. Goldstone's witty comments make this historical family drama as easy to read as the best fiction, but it's all the more tragic for being true.
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The Rival Queens
I enjoyed this book! I know very little of this era of history so I learned a lot. The book is written as a history book but with a touch of modern humor, just enough to lighten dark times. If you like the Tudor histories, the Rival Queens is a good match.
While I have read books from this time period in England, this was my first foray into French history. It's a fascinating tale and has really furthered my understanding of what was at play in the royal family in France and other parts of Europe. Extremely well researched and the writing moves the story along. The intrigue, dishonor and war/murder makes this a heavier read but I highly recommend it. Thankful that Marguerite, and others in positions close to her, kept such diaries, as hearing all their 'voices' really brought it all to life.