The Rival Queens: Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom

Nancy Goldstone. Little, Brown, $30 (448p) ISBN 978-0-316-40965-0
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. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/04/2015
Release date: 06/23/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-316-40966-7
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-316-40967-4
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