Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
By Leonie Frieda
Why this book?
Leonie Freida’s biography intended for popular audiences does not shirk from the complexities of Catherine’s life or the political and religious history of sixteenth-century France. One of the very few English-language biographies of Catherine de Medici, it is thorough, richly illustrated, and engagingly written and a welcome addition to the spate of recent works about royal women. Catherine de Medici was, after Elizabeth I of England, the most powerful woman of the sixteenth century.
Yet, she is known primarily through her Black Legend, created by Protestant polemicists in the wake of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which defined her as an evil mother, poisoner, and Machiavellian queen. The rich detail of Frieda’s biography allows readers to appreciate Catherine in greater complexity as a powerful woman acting to preserve the French monarchy.
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