cover image Anne and Louis: Passion and Politics in Early Renaissance France

Anne and Louis: Passion and Politics in Early Renaissance France

Rozsa Gaston. Renaissance Editions, $14.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-9847906-8-5

Gaston’s elegant second addition to the Anne of Brittany series (after Anne and Charles) continues in 1498 with Anne and Louis building a life together after Charles’s death—developing their marriage and personal ambitions as their alliances and conflicts with rivals play out. The story begins when 21-year-old Anne, Duchess of Brittany and King Charles VIII of France’s widow, returns to her beloved duchy as its sole ruler while Louis XII inherits the throne. Popularly regarded as temperate and sensible, Anne takes a pilgrimage through her realm, noting the rising middle class and its potential: she appoints middle class administrators of Brittany’s thriving sailcloth industry (not nobility) and begins a revenue-building modernization of trade. She and Louis marry after a controversial annulment from his barren wife; wisely, Anne requires a marriage contract so as to protect her rights. She is intimately involved in the enlightenment of her noblewomen, and uses finely honed matchmaking skills to arrange their political marriages to protect French interests. Meanwhile, Louis is fixated on another Italian military campaign (Charles had tried and failed), which Gaston embellishes with the colorful Cesare Borgia, illegitimate son of the pope, and Machiavelli. With smart characters and sweeping descriptions of Brittany, Gaston takes readers on a memorable adventure to the French Renaissance.[em] (BookLife) [/em]