Three Renaissance Women and the Price of Power
One of the New Yorker's Best Books of 2023
One of BookRiot's Best Biographies of 2023
Longlisted for the 2024 Women's Prize in Nonfiction
The boldly original, dramatic intertwined story of Catherine de' Medici, Elisabeth de Valois, and Mary, Queen of Scots--three queens exercising power in a world dominated by men.
Orphaned from infancy, Catherine de' Medici endured a tumultuous childhood. Married to the French king, she was widowed by forty, only to become the power behind the French throne during a period of intense civil strife. In 1546, Catherine gave birth to a daughter, Elisabeth de Valois, who would become Queen of Spain. Two years later, Catherine welcomed to her nursery the beguiling young Mary Queen of Scots, who would later become her daughter-in-law.
Together, Catherine, Elisabeth, and Mary lived through the sea changes that transformed sixteenth-century Europe, a time of expanding empires, religious discord, and populist revolt, as concepts of nationhood began to emerge and ideas of sovereignty inched closer to absolutism. They would learn that to rule as a queen was to wage a constant war against the deeply entrenched misogyny of their time.
Following the intertwined stories of the three women from girlhood through young adulthood, Leah Redmond Chang's Young Queens paints a picture of a world in which a woman could wield power at the highest level yet remain at the mercy of the state, her body serving as the currency of empire and dynasty, sacrificed to the will of husband, family, kingdom.
About this Author
Leah Redmond Chang is a former associate professor of French literature and culture at the George Washington University. Her writing draws on her extensive experience as a researcher in the archives and in rare book libraries. Previous books include Into Print: The Invention of Female Authorship in Early Modern France, which focused on women and book culture in the sixteenth century, and (with Katherine Kong) Portraits of the Queen Mother, about the many public faces of Catherine de Medici. With her husband and three children, she lives in Washington, DC, and London, UK.
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