The boldly original, dramatic intertwined story of Catherine de’ Medici, Elisabeth de Valois, and Mary, Queen of Scots – three queens exercising power in a world dominated by men.
‘This exceptionally brilliant book, deft of phrase and vividly realised, conveys the vitality of the past as few books do. It’s an enviable tour de force and marks the arrival of a wonderful new voice in narrative history’ Suzannah Lipscomb
Sixteenth-century Europe: Renaissance masters paint the ceilings of Florentine churches, kings battle for control of the Continent, and the Reformation forever changes the religious organisation of society. Amidst it all, three young women come of age and into power in an era of empires and revolutions.
Catherine de’ Medici’s story begins in a convent stormed by soldiers intent on seizing the key to power in Florence – Catherine herself, a girl barely 11 years old. It ends with her as the controversial queen mother of France, a woman both revered and reviled.
Mary, Queen of Scots’ story begins in Scotland and ends in England. A queen turned traitor, from the confines of her English prison she longs for the idyll of her childhood in France.
Elisabeth de Valois’ story begins in France, where she is born the beloved daughter of a king. It ends tragically in Spain as a cherished queen consort and mother – one who must make the ultimate sacrifice for her kingdom.
Catherine, Mary and Elisabeth lived at the French court together for many years before scattering to different kingdoms. These years bound them to one another through blood and marriage, alliance and friendship, love and filial piety; bonds that were tested when the women were forced to part and take on new roles. To rule, they would learn, was to wage a constant war against the deeply entrenched misogyny of their time. A crown could exalt a young woman. Equally, it could destroy her.
Drawing on new archival research, Young Queens masterfully weaves the personal stories of these three queens into one, revealing their hopes, dreams, desires and regrets in a time when even the most powerful women lived at the mercy of the state.