SOCIAL SCIENCES

Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe

Basic. Nov. 2016. 384p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780465096787. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465096794. HIST
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Gristwood (Blood Sisters) chronicles the unusual happenstance of the 16th century whereby most of Europe was under a female ruler's control either in her own right or as a regent. The women portrayed here are well known to history (e.g., Anne Boleyn, Isabella I of Castile, Catherine de' Medici, and Marguerite de Navarre) and are shown interacting with one another as rulers, friends, or family; playing primary roles in domestic and foreign affairs; and even creating the atmosphere for incidents such as the Ladies' Peace (1529) and the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1572). It is this complex relational web of sisterhood, interwoven by the women as either mothers, daughters, or mentors, that marks the era and its historical events. This web, started in the late 1400s, was eventually broken in the latter half of the 1500s by an ideological battle that tore at the foundations of society: the Reformation. By focusing exclusively on these female figures, Gristwood argues that they are the primary movers of historical developments in this century.
VERDICT While the analysis isn't groundbreaking, it casts a well-researched time period in an intriguing light. Readers of popular history, especially of Tudor England, and of women's history will find much to enjoy.

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