Martyrs and Murderers

Martyrs and Murderers

The Guise Family and the Making of Europe

Book - 2009
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The House of Guise was one of the greatest princely families of the sixteenth century, or indeed of any age. Today they are best remembered through the tragic life of one family member, Mary Queen of Scots. But the story of her Guise uncles, aunts and cousins is if anything more gripping - andcertainly of greater significance in the history of Europe. The Guise family rose to prominence as the greatest enemy of the House of Habsburg and had dreams of a great dynastic empire that included the British Isles and southern Italy. They were among the staunchest opponents of the Reformation, played a major role in re-fashioning Catholicism at theCouncil of Trent before plunging France into a bloody civil war that culminated in the infamous St Bartholomew's Day Massacre. They protected English Catholic refugees, plotted to invade England and overthrow Elizabeth I, and ended the century by unleashing Europe's first religious revolution,before succumbing in a counter-revolution that made them martyrs for the Catholic cause.Martyrs and Murderers is the first comprehensive modern biography of the Guise family in any language. In it Stuart Carroll unravels the legends which cast them either as heroes or as villains of the Reformation, weaving a remarkable story that challenges traditional assumptions about one ofEurope's most turbulent and formative eras.
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9780199229079
Branch Call Number: 944.0290922 C319
Characteristics: xiv, 345 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., geneal. tables, maps ; 24 cm.


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Dec 06, 2015

There is a fascinating tale of a powerful 16th-17th century family who produced a queen for Scotland and aspired for royalty in France. But this book does not deliver. There are some well written bits, often in the set-up at the beginning of chapters. Too soon however, it gets lost in detail, and knowledge is assumed. I knew nothing about this era in France, so had to research in wikipedia to understand the treaties and battles to which he was referencing.
A year after this review, I went back to have another read, having read up on the era in the meantime. As a result, I raised my rating. This is a fascinating part of history, on which many have written. One book looks at it through the Queen Mother, another through Philip II of Spain. This look through the de Guise family brings in their sister, Mary Queen of Scots and France and pretender for the throne of England. This is the period in French history covered by the current TV series "Reign".

Feb 06, 2015

The Guise family has often been remembered as the nemesis to the French crown. However, as is often the case with medieval monarchies and their courts, there was a lot of intrigue on both sides. This book does a wonderful job of illustrating the spectrum of roles this powerful family played - both good and bad. Theirs is a story where life is often more colorful than fiction. Very informative yet reads easily. I would definitely read this again and highly recommended.

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