Game of Queens

Game of Queens

The Women Who Made Sixteenth-century Europe

Book - 2016
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Sixteenth-century Europe saw an explosion of female rule. From Isabella of Castile and her granddaughter Mary Tudor, to Catherine de Medici, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth Tudor, women wielded enormous power over their territories for more than a hundred years. In the sixteenth century, as in our own, the phenomenon of the powerful woman offered challenges and opportunities. Opportunities, as when in 1529 Margaret of Austria and Louise of Savoy negotiated the "Ladies' peace" of Cambrai. Challenges, as when both Mary Queen of Scots and her kinswoman Elizabeth I came close to being destroyed by sexual scandal. A fascinating group biography of some of the most beloved (and reviled) queens in history, Game of Queens tells the story of the powerful women who drove European history.
Publisher: New York : Basic Books, 2016
ISBN: 9780465096787
Characteristics: xxxi, 351 p.: color ill. ; 25 cm


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Feb 05, 2020

I loved this book. While biographies about Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, and Mary Queen of Scots are a dime a dozen these days, it's not so for the many other women who rose to prominence in sixteenth century Europe. I was fascinated by the other women that Gristwood brought to the fore, many whose names I had heard before but knew little about, which really whetted my appetite.

Anne de Beaujeu, Margaret of Austria, Marguerite of Navarre, Louise of Savoy, Jeanne d'Albert, and the other Queens or queen-like figures who rose to high positions during this period are absolutely fascinating. As I said, I had heard of most of them, usually briefly in other books I read about other figures of this period, but Gristwood did an amazing job introducing them to me in enough detail to get me interested in learning more about them.

A real treat, and very well-written.

Jun 10, 2019

Well-written and an interesting account of the remarkable women that influenced and ruled Western Europe in the 16th century. Highly recommend this book for anyone interested in female leadership and power in this period!

Jun 19, 2017

The book has to move quickly through a lot of time and space so many figures get only a quick character sketch.

Apr 23, 2017

Two of the great royal historians with us are Alison Weir and Sarah Gristwood. While Weir specializes in writing in epic books (such as hers on the life of Henry VIII), Gristwood tends to be concise and to the point. Both approaches are equally valid - in fact I do like Weir's books - but it's the second that works for this book. It's hard to imagine, but the women in this book were, in their time (the 16th century), feminists - and to varying degrees, power hungry. They either pulled the strings behind their men, or were the power players themselves. All this played out with the emergence of the Reformation and the struggles between Catholics and Protestants - the nadir of which was the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

There are plenty of revelations in this book. One, not so much a revelation but a surprise to me, was that John Knox, the founder of the Presbyterian church, was a misogynist who railed against women's rule and found himself persecuted by Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic.

An easily readable book, although the material may be heavy for some younger readers.


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Apr 23, 2017

rpavlacic thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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