Game of Queens by Sarah Gristwood

Game of Queens by Sarah Gristwood download for free or read it online here
Game of Queens
by Sarah Gristwood
Isabella of Castile, armor-clad, followed her soldiers onto the battlefield. Margaret of Austria and Louise of Savoy, two queen regents, put an end to years of war with their “Ladies' Peace.” Anne Boleyn was raised in Margaret of Austria's court, surrounded by powerful women; her daughter, Elizabeth Tudor, grew up to be one of the most famous queens in history. Across boundaries and generations, these royal women were mothers and daughters, mentors and protégées, allies and enemies. For the first time, Europe saw a sisterhood of women who exercised their authority in uniquely feminine ways and would not be equaled until modern times.

At once a fascinating group biography and a thrilling political epic, Game of Queens explores the lives of some of the most beloved (and reviled) queens in history. From the rise of this age of queens to its eventual collapse, one thing was certain: Europe would never be the same.

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  • 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. Mary of Hungary, Catherine de Medici, Elizabeth 1, Mary of Guise, Mary of Scotland, are a few of the ruling queens mentioned. The times created women who learned how to steer the world, shaping bloodlines as well as borders with quiet strength. They changed what they believed in with passionate dedication, proving leadership did not belong solely in a king's hands.
Interesting, at times, riveting, this is a fascinating glimpse into a world that is too often overshadowed by the achievements of kings rather than the women who surrounded and influenced them.

  • "Game of Queens" was a fascinating read, focusing on the power and chessboard politics of various queens, regents and important women of the sixteenth century. Author Sarah Gristwood really knows her stuff, and her writing is clear and factual without becoming dry.

I knew a lot about many of the women going in (Anne Boleyn, Katharine of Aragon, Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Mary I) but it was definitely nice to revisit these figures and to be able to fit what I know of them into the larger picture of world politics at that time. There were some new figures introduced to me that I didn't find as interesting (Mary of Hungary, Jeanne d'Albret), but I did see their importance within the puzzle. And there were some women I had known little things about before but that I was really in-depth introduced to here (Margaret of Austria and Catherine de Medici, to name a couple). I am definitely inspired to go forth and read some more about those two.

This book is great for anyone interested in queenly history or women's politics and triumphs in a century not set up for their success (is any century?). Side note: the last paragraph says with pride that the author is writing at a time when a female is challenging the highest office in the most powerful country in the world, and that was just a sucker punch in the gut. If we'd only known how that would turn out.

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