Catherine de’ Medici: The Life and Times of the Serpent Queen

Pegasus. Jul. 2024. 432p. ISBN 9781639367016. $35. BIOG
Italian Renaissance scholar Hollingsworth’s (Conclave 1559) biography of Catherine de’ Medici (1519–89) portrays her as one of the most influential people of her time. She was the queen consort of King Henri II of France and the mother of three kings and two queens, but she too had real power, in an era when most women had little influence. The book indicates, however, that she was perceived to be a vicious and corrupt leader. For example, she plotted the 1572 St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of French Huguenots (Protestants) by Catholics, a civil war that lasted two months and killed thousands. Hollingsworth expertly details Catherine’s background and upbringing. Her parents, the duke and duchess of Urbino, died—her mother from a fever, her father from wounds and complications from other diseases—within a month of her birth, so guardians raised her. She and Henry had been married for 14 years when he inherited the crown in 1547, at which point she became queen of France. After Henry’s death in 1559, she became an influential regent. This title also chronicles her contributions to the arts and includes bibliographical references and family trees.
VERDICT An intriguing, highly recommended look at a powerful queen and her life.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing