In sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary set of women created a unique culture of feminine power that saw them run the continent for decades. Despite often being on opposing sides of power struggles both armed and otherwise, through family ties and patronage they educated and supported each other in a brutal world where the price of failure was disgrace, exile or even death.
Following the passage of power from mother to daughter and mentor to protégé, Gristwood reveals the unorthodox practices these women adopted to avoid patriarchal control and assesses the impact they had on shaping the world around them. Epic in scale, this game of queens is a remarkable spectacle of skill and ingenuity, confronting the challenges faced by women in power – many of which still hold relevant today.
The players in this Game of Queens are: Isabella of Castile, Margaret of Austria, Louise of Savoy, Anne de Beaujeu, Katherine of Aragon, Marguerite of Navarre, Anne Boleyn, Catherine de Medici, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth Tudor, Jeanne d’Albret and Mary Stuart.
If any title was suitable for review on this website, it would Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe. I was glad to see the inclusion of Anne de Beaujeu, who fascinates me but no extensive biography of her has ever been written. The books follows a chronological order, which can be a bit confusing at times as it goes from country to country. However, once you’ve made it into the story, it all starts to make sense. These women’s destinies were all linked in one way or another and together, or sometimes against each other; they played the game of power. Some won, some lost. Sarah Gristwood’s writing pulls you and doesn’t let you go.