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The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom

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The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom

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    Available in PDF Format | The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom.pdf | English
    Nancy Goldstone(Author)
The riveting true story of mother-and-daughter queens Catherine de' Medici and Marguerite de Valois, whose wildly divergent personalities and turbulent relationship changed the shape of their tempestuous and dangerous century.


Set in magnificent Renaissance France, this is the story of two remarkable women, a mother and daughter driven into opposition by a terrible betrayal that threatened to destroy the realm.

Catherine de' Medici was a ruthless pragmatist and powerbroker who dominated the throne for thirty years. Her youngest daughter Marguerite, the glamorous "Queen Margot," was a passionate free spirit, the only adversary whom her mother could neither intimidate nor control.


When Catherine forces the Catholic Marguerite to marry her Protestant cousin Henry of Navarre against her will, and then uses her opulent Parisian wedding as a means of luring his followers to their deaths, she creates not only savage conflict within France but also a potent rival within her own family.


Rich in detail and vivid prose, Goldstone's narrative unfolds as a thrilling historical epic. Treacherous court politics, poisonings, inter-national espionage, and adultery form the background to a story that includes such celebrated figures as Elizabeth I, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Nostradamus. The Rival Queens is a dangerous tale of love, betrayal, ambition, and the true nature of courage, the echoes of which still resonate.

PRAISE FOR THE MAID AND THE QUEEN "A dual biography of two fascinating medieval women with the descriptive energy of a novel." "USA Today"""Attention, 'Game of Thrones' fans: The most enjoyably sensational aspects of medieval politics---double-crosses, ambushes, bizarre personal obsessions, lunacy and naked self-interest"-"are in abundant evidence." Laura Miller, "Salon"""A lively, fast-paced and fascinating account of Joan's story, weaving together the labyrinthine intrigues of medieval politics, the real story behind a medieval fairy tale and the astonishing events that led a young peasant girl from the command of an army to a fiery death at the hands of the English." "BookPage"""With compelling storytelling, Goldstone colorfully weaves together the tales of these two women...whose powerful personalities and deep allegiance to France helped shape the country's future." "Publishers Weekly"""Vivid...astounding....as gripping as ever . . . [A] knowledgeable and accessible account of a turning point in French history." "Kirkus Reviews"""Goldstone's entertaining narrative will intrigue general readers interested in the Middle Ages...or biographies of royal figures or women in history." "Library Journal"""Goldstone adds an enlightening new chapter to a legendary saga and rescues another unjustly neglected woman from the dust pile of conventional history." "Booklist"""Nancy Goldstone leads her reader with a very sure hand through the most dramatic events of Renaissance France. Her narrative is so gripping that The Rival Queens unfolds like a thriller." "Anka Muhlstein, author of Monsieur Proust's Library"""The Rival Queens is a gripping tale of royal feuds and divided kingdoms. Goldstone has lovingly restored the reputation of Marguerite de Valois; revealing her to be a woman of passion and drive whose fierce loyalties burned bright until the day she died." "Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire and Georgiana"""Riveting." "Isabella Biedenharn, "Entertainment Weekly""""Riveting." Isabella Biedenharn, ""Entertainment Weekly""""Riveting....In "The Rival Queens," lovers are killed, assassination attempts are thwarted, and Marguerite endures enough close escapes to fill a series of action thrillers." Patricia Treble, ""Macleans"""""The Rival Queens" is well written and thoroughly researched. It reads more like a novel than a biography--and that can be a good thing....A great cautionary note about the subterfuges that can be involved in the pursuit of power...Goldstone's book reminds us that the more things change, the more they remain the same." NLB Horton, ""Vail Daily """"Riveting." Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly""One of the challenges facing any historian of this period is the sheer profusion of themes that need to be handled...What makes Goldstone's biography so enjoyable is that she manages, thanks to the clarity of her presentation, to lead readers through this labyrinth with a sure and steady hand...She is a popular historian whose writing is based on very serious research, with a gift for telling the most complicated tale in vivid, accessible prose."--Anka Muhlstein, New York Review of Books"Riveting."--Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly"What makes this account so convincing is not the evidence mustered, but the intuition applied....Margot, Catherine, Henry and various villains jump from the page in living, breathing, fornicating reality...an intriguing story, handsomely told."--Gerard DeGroot, The Times of London"Tudor fans will be lured by this history set in Renaissance France."--Jocelyn McClurg, USA Today"The 16th century, Nancy Goldstone notes in her gripping new biography, was the great age of queens...Goldstone wears her scholarship with flair; perhaps the most extraordinary feature of the story, which moves with the sharp characterization of a novel, is that it is entirely true."--Lisa Hilton, BBC History Magazine"Riveting....In The Rival Queens, lovers are killed, assassination attempts are thwarted, and Marguerite endures enough close escapes to fill a series of action thrillers."--Patricia Treble, Macleans"The queens Goldstone writes about weren't just any 16th-century queens; these women engaged in love affairs, group sex, killing sprees, and much, much more. Goldstone researched these royal families exhaustively and boiled what she learned down to a book that reads like a transcript of the latest season of Real Housewives but with higher stakes (life or death)."--Emma Morgenstern, Modern Notion Daily Podcast"The Rival Queens is well written and thoroughly researched. It reads more like a novel than a biography--and that can be a good thing....A great cautionary note about the subterfuges that can be involved in the pursuit of power...Goldstone's book reminds us that the more things change, the more they remain the same."--NLB Horton, Vail Daily "A highly dramatic dual biography.... If serious history readers believe that Tudor England is the only place where family and religious conflict at the highest level makes riveting reading matter, those folks need to take a close look across the English Channel and see what was transpiring at the same time in the French court.... The French contemporary to Elizabeth I was Queen Catherine de' Medici, widow of King Henri II and mother to three kings after him.... Tudor struggles pale in comparison! Read this along with Antonia Fraser's classic Mary Queen of Scots." --Brad Hooper, Booklist (Starred Review)"This is a story of espionage, assassination, intrigue, and chicanery but also one that poignantly reminds readers of the vulnerabilities faced by women of the age....Readers are sure to be captivated by the lush details of these women's lives."--Library Journal"Goldstone's witty comments make this historical family drama as easy to read as the best fiction, but it's all the more tragic for being true.... Goldstone upends conventional thought with this well-researched and well-written book."--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)"A thrilling tale packed with historical details and shocking revelations. Nancy Goldstone writes with cinematic clarity and eloquently brings to life two indomitable women whose ambitions changed the course of European history."--Ivana Lowell, author of Why Not Say What Happened?"The Rival Queens is a gripping tale of royal feuds and divided kingdoms. Goldstone has lovingly restored the reputation of Marguerite de Valois; revealing her to be a woman of passion and drive whose fierce loyalties burned bright until the day she died."--Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire and Georgiana"[Goldstone] spins a tangled tale of rivalry, ambition, and, especially--for the rare women leaders of the time--sheer self-preservation...Goldstone has a remarkable handle on these often Byzantine royal machinations. History brought to vivid life in the characters of these women of purpose."--Kirkus Reviews

2.5 (5144)
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Book details

  • PDF | 448 pages
  • Nancy Goldstone(Author)
  • Little Brown and Company (23 Jun. 2015)
  • English
  • 6
  • Biography
Read online or download a free book: The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal That Ignited a Kingdom

Review Text

  • By Alisonmi on 22 July 2017

    Knew nothing of note about these two women. Fascinating if brutal period. Well written and accessible, I'd recommend it and I will probably read others by Ms Goldstone.

  • By Gemma on 15 August 2017

    Great book. A study of Catherine de Valois and her daughter, the fascinating Margot. Highly recommended

  • By ange on 13 June 2017

    I loved this book. well written, informative and enjoyable I look forward to reading more from nancy goldstone.

  • By Colm Chase on 28 June 2015

    The fascinating story of a totally dysfunctional royal family headed by a despotic mother. This is a very enjoyable and easy to read introduction to the times of Catherine de Medici and her family. Married to a king who preferred his mistress and mother of successively disastrous kings (Francis ll, Charles lX, and Henry lll) perhaps Catherine de Medicis most serious flaw was her persecution of her youngest daughter Marguerite (la Reine Margot) who was forced to marry the protestant King of Navarre (subsequently Henry lV of France) as a political tool by her mother despite her dedication to the catholic church. Her treatment by her mother and two of her brothers and her survival through the wars of religion of the period reads like a plot from a soap opera rather than a history of the kingdom of France. Another easy reading page turner from this author.

  • By Elspeth G. Perkin on 24 August 2016

    There is no doubt that The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom carries and delivers the cache of French 16th-century: betrayals, jealousies, political and religious factions and of course murderous blood relations in its pages but for this reader, I was looking for more history and solid facts versus speculation and less sounding biased views of historic individuals. This was one royalty biography I have been anticipating for months and I very sorry to say, it was a mere disappointing read that I sorely wish I could speak more positively about.Judging by the slew of positive reviews for this work, I seem to be among the few who didn’t love this book. For me, throughout this title there was a distracting odd informal tone and to be quite honest, I finished having the feeling I was on a much anticipated tour with a guide who at times seemed to take advantage of the unfamiliar visitor only sharing information that avoided certain topics and admissions of personal interpretations while at the same time overemphasizing and repeating thoughts and comments as hard facts leaving no opportunities for debate or questions. Although I did learn about personality and supposed characters flaws and royal scandals while on this tour; it became very awkward to try to decipher what was fact or fiction on certain important subjects and historic figures. This may serve as a perfect introduction through the intricate workings of 16th and early 17th-century French court and politics for someone else but for me I think it best I try to find another guide for this fascinating era of history and key opponents.

  • By Henry H8 on 12 October 2015

    This is a truly fascinating account of the rivalry between Catherine De Medici, Queen of France and her daughter - "Margot", Queen of Navarre. This witty and intelligent book (which includes some quite amusing asides and commentary) focuses on a relatively little known period of 16th century French history. The earlier sections of the book are particularly gripping as Nancy Goldstone describes the very dysfunctional marriage of Henri II and Catherine - very much a case of "three people in this marriage". The book does lose some momentum and becomes more complicated as it goes on but remains a worthwhile read to the end. You can only feel sorry for "Margot" as she has to content with the mother, husband and brother from hell!

  • By Stephanie Louise Broadhurst on 7 April 2016

    I picked up this book in a bookshop after linking Catherine de Medici to a character on one of my favourite TV shows Reign. I often read historical fiction but tend to stay away from non-fiction book such as these (bad memories of history class I guess). As soon as I read the introduction of this though, I was hooked! The story told in the introduction is probably the most shocking of both the women’s lives and of course was chosen (with great effect – at least in my case) to hook the reader. It reminded me of A Game of Thrones and I was intrigued to know more and read on.This period of French history, which coincides with the reigns of Henry VIII and his children Edward, Mary and Elizabeth I in England, makes the Tudors look almost like normal family! Often for historical fiction timelines are adjusted to create a fast-flowing story. This wasn't required in this case.For a first non-fiction historical book this was a great read. The writer tells the story in an engaging, easy to follow way. The sources seemed legitimate and I thought it was pretty obvious when the writers own opinion was being given. Overall I would recommend to fans of Reign and European history in general. I will be reading other works by this author.

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