Four Queens

Four Queens

The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe

Book - 2007
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Set against the backdrop of the turbulent thirteenth century, a time of chivalry and crusades, poetry, knights, and monarchs comes the story of the four beautiful daughters of the count of Provence whose brilliant marriages made them the queens of France, England, Germany, and Sicily.

From a cultured childhood in Provence, each sister was propelled into a world marked by shifting alliances, intrigue, and subterfuge. Marguerite, the eldest, whose resolution and spirit would be tested by the cold splendor of the Palais du Roi in Paris; Eleanor, whose soaring political aspirations would provoke her kingdom to civil war; Sanchia, the neglected wife of the richest man in England who bought himself the crown of Germany; and Beatrice, whose desire for sovereignty was so acute that she risked her life to earn her place at the royal table.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2007.
ISBN: 9780670038435
Branch Call Number: 940.1840922 G624
Characteristics: xiii, 336 p. : ill., maps, geneal. tables ; 24 cm.


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Jul 05, 2015

I first read Goldstone's later book about Joanna, Queen of Naples, descendant of one of these sisters. It would have made more sense to read them in reverse order, but this is the order I came across them. The other is a better book, actually, I think because it's easier to write a bio about one person than about four. This one is fascinating, and Goldstone does do a great job of leaving you hanging, as in a mystery novel, when things get tense in one part of Europe. But that's also its weakness, as I'd had to keep track of so much else that by the time I got back to sister #1, I'd almost forgotten what crisis I'd left her in. It was fascinating to watch how their parents, cultured but poor counts of Provence, raised them for greatness which they achieved. For instance, not only did they get the "education" of upper class girls of the Middle Ages--music, needle work, dancing, etc. They couldn't go to school, but with private tutors, were also taught to read and write, and other "male" accomplishments. Very close as children, married young (13 to 15) to kings who proved to be weak, their strong personalities turned to the advantage of their new countries. Any lingering doubts that queens in the Middle Ages were always purely titular will be eliminated by this pageturner. I'd have given it more stars except the huge cast of characters required returning to the (luckily complete) genealogy charts to keep straight who's who.

Sep 16, 2008

For a history book, this was very easy to read and interesting. It is nice to hear history from a female in power's point of view, and all four of these sisters plus their mother and several mothers in law were real women to be reckoned with.

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