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

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

Nancy Goldstone

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 0316409669

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The riveting true story of mother-and-daughter queens Catherine de' Medici and Marguerite de Valois, whose wildly divergent personalities and turbulent relationship changed the shape of their tempestuous and dangerous century.

Set in magnificent Renaissance France, this is the story of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm.

Catherine de' Medici was a ruthless pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous "Queen Margot," was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control.

When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.

Rich in detail and vivid prose, Goldstone's narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, inter-national espionage, and adultery form the background to a story that includes such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus. The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition, and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.

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for one night. In the middle of the affair, just when everyone was having such a good time, a messenger came and whispered in Henry’s ear that there had been an uprising at La Réole and that the Protestant governor had changed sides. The king of Navarre, instantly assuming a Catholic plot (in fact it was a party of disgruntled citizens upset with what they considered to be abuses of power), motioned to the vicomte de Turenne, his top lieutenant, and a number of other gentlemen. Moments later they

The Guise brothers acted swiftly because they had to. Although they justified their claim to power by emphasizing their family’s relationship to the new queen, Mary Stuart, they were in fact usurpers, and they knew it. By right of lineage, Antoine de Bourbon, philandering husband of Catherine’s friend Jeanne d’Albret, queen of Navarre, and the person next in line for the throne after Catherine’s sons, should have taken command as unofficial regent. But Antoine was more than three hundred miles

is important to understand that the modern concept of tolerance—the idea that people of differing religious beliefs can live side by side in peace within a single kingdom—did not exist in the sixteenth century. It was assumed by all—and this included the queen mother, who was nothing if not conventional—that one religion would eventually predominate and the worshippers of the losing sect would be forced more or less into hiding. They would not necessarily be sought out for persecution if they

who had been helping the princess’s romance along by offering her services as a conduit for clandestine love letters, to relinquish a private note from Marguerite meant for the duke of Guise. Guast lost no time in presenting this incriminating missive to Henri, who bade him pass it along to Catherine, who in turn shared it with her eldest son, Charles, the king. Charles was not in a cheerful frame of mind, having had a particularly infelicitous past few months. After the royalist triumph at

impervious to her daughter’s sobs. The queen mother’s chambermaid, who witnessed this scene, later testified that Catherine vindictively threatened “to make her [Marguerite] the most wretched lady in the kingdom” if she did not go through with the marriage. Margot’s brother Charles was equally obdurate. The king was very publicly tied to the Navarre alliance. It represented his signature initiative; there was too much at stake to repudiate it. Besides, he wanted it—it enabled the tempting

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