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Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe Hardcover – 6 Oct 2016

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (6 Oct. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780749945
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780749945
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

‘Gristwood handles multiple narrative strands with tremendous finesse... Densely packed with fascinating material, this immensely ambitious undertaking succeeds triumphantly.’

(Literary Review)

‘A masterpiece that effortlessly and enthrallingly interweaves the amazing stories of women who ruled in Europe during the Renaissance period...and a pacy and illuminating good read.’

(Alison Weir)

‘Engaging and highly readable.’

(BBC History Magazine, Books of the Year)

‘Gristwood brings them all to life with her usual mix of character study and pacy narrative’.

(History Revealed)

‘Gristwood interweaves the drama of monarchy with its more domestic moments.’

(Telegraph)

A fast-paced chronological narrative bursting with intrigue.

(Publishers Weekly)

‘Sarah Gristwood’s study of the brilliant, beleaguered and often bloody difficult women who kept Europe going in the sixteenth century is compelling, clear-eyed, beautifully rendered and never-more-timely.’

(Jessie Childs)

‘A magnificent exploration of a most remarkable groupGristwood gives us impeccable research, incisive attention to detail and exquisite writing as she investigates these truly fascinating women and their lives of courage, tribulation and determination. Absolutely unputdownable.’

(Kate Williams, author of The Storms of War)

About the Author

Sarah Gristwood has written bestselling biographies of Arbella Stuart, Elizabeth and Leicester. Her previous book, Blood Sisters, was a dramatic portrait of the women whose dynastic ambitions and rivalries fuelled the Wars of the Roses. She lives in Camden, London, and Kent.


Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From an era when it is generally supposed that royal women took the back seat politically, stayed home, embroidered, prayed and raised heirs, Sarah Gristwood has extracted the true stories of women who did not conform to the stereotype and participated fully and effectively in the governance of countries for whom conflict with one another was the established way of life. England, Scotland, Spain, France, the Netherlands etc were closely linked by marriage between their various royal houses, but that never guaranteed peaceful co-existence. The nature of military campaigning meant that queens were often regents for significant periods of time wielding real power and influence.

Mary of Hungary in the early 1500s was appointed as governor of the Netherlands by her brother, Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Fifth. She wore herself out in the role, but did it so well that her brother simply would not let her step down into quiet contemplation and rest. As Charles said, "I am only one and cannot be everywhere". This was true of others, such as Anne de Beaujeu of France, whose skills were manifest and appreciated, whether in direct rule, decision making, the brokering of peace deals, or in the mentoring of the daughters and nieces for whom they were responsible. Like a number of 16th Century women, Anne de Beaujeu was also a published author and her book "Lessons for my Daughter" is in print to this day.

Marguerite of Navarre was similarly greatly trusted and relied upon by her brother, Francois the First of France. She and his mother were particularly vital in holding things together during his captivity as a hostage in Spain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hugely interesting and well written.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a well-written, lively and intriguing exploration of what Sarah Gristwood describes as the Game of Queens: female rule in Europe, beginning with Isabella of Castile in 1474 and ending with Elizabeth of England in 1603. Gristwood's focus is primarily on Western Europe: England, Scotland, France, Spain, the Netherlands and modern-day Belgium. The women examined in this book include Anne de Beaujeu (also known as Anne of France), Anne of Brittany, Margaret of Austria, Louise of Savoy, Marguerite of Navarre, Jeanne d'Albret, Katherine of Aragon, Mary I, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Margaret Tudor, Marie de Guise and Mary, Queen of Scots. It's an ambitious and wide-ranging project that uses the metaphor of chess (a game enjoyed by several of the queens featuring in this work) to explore relations of female power in a century of religious bloodshed, political upheaval and dynastic crisis.

The first section of the book takes as its starting point the late fifteenth-century and early sixteenth-, encompassing the spectacular reign of Isabella of Castile, mother of Katherine of Aragon, and the very different experiences of Anne de Beaujeu, Anne of Brittany and Margaret of Austria. It is perhaps surprising that Lady Margaret Beaufort does not feature in this account; she was not a queen, but contemporaries were certainly aware of her political, religious and dynastic significance during the reign of her son, Henry VII of England. Perhaps, given that Gristwood has already written about Margaret in her book "Blood Sisters", she did not feel the need to focus on her here.
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Format: Hardcover
Detailed and wonderfully written book celebrating powerful queens of Western Europe. Starting with Isabella of Spain and ending with Elizabeth I. Gristwood writes of the various women from England, The Netherlands, Spain, Hungary, and France and how they impacted history. Isabella of Spain broke the mold as a warrior queen, setting the precedent of a woman taking control of her country as well as standing beside her troops in battle. With each new personality, Gristwood shows how they influenced the next generation of queens in training. Isabella's fierce ability to govern and defend her country set the example for her own daughter Katherine of Aragon to act as regent in Henry's absence and defeat the Scots at Flodden. Similarly, the author compares Margaret Tudor's role in Scotland as well as Anne of France's impact on the girls she mentored. The author moves through time, describing the dynamics of Marguerite of Savoy's relationship with both her brother, Francis I and her mother, Louise of Savoy. Each new era brings a widening influence affecting women across Europe, the older queens tutoring the younger girls in their future roles. Interestingly, she writes that Anne Boleyn's failure and ultimate downfall may have been the result of her not being an actual princess, her common roots leaving her unprepared the navigate the dangerous shoals of palace politics. She asserts that Boleyn was so caught up in the idea of courtly love, she had no understanding of when to stop and perhaps protect herself. She shows the differences of a political savvy Marguerite of Navarre played with her brother, the king when he forced an undesirable marriage on her daughter. Marguerite understood the dangerous dance of when to push and when to retreat, unlike Anne who did not.Read more ›
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