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  • The Serpent Queen

  • Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
  • By: Leonie Frieda
  • Narrated by: Sarah Le Fevre
  • Length: 21 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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The Serpent Queen

By: Leonie Frieda
Narrated by: Sarah Le Fevre
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Publisher's Summary

What the TV series The Serpent Queen, starring Samantha Morton is based on.

The bestselling revisionist biography of one of the great women of the 16th century.

Orphaned in infancy, Catherine de Medici was the sole legitimate heiress to the Medici family fortune. Married at fourteen to the future Henri II of France, she was constantly humiliated by his influential mistress Diane de Poitiers. When her husband died as a result of a duelling accident in Paris, Catherine was made queen regent during the short reign of her eldest son (married to Mary Queen of Scots and like many of her children he died young). When her second son became king she was the power behind the throne.

She nursed dynastic ambitions, but was continually drawn into political and religious intrigues between Catholics and Protestants that plagued France for much of the later part of her life. It had always been said that she was implicated in the notorious Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, together with the king and her third son who succeeded to the throne in 1574, but was murdered. Her political influence waned, but she survived long enough to ensure the succession of her son-in-law who had married her daughter Margaret.

©2004 Leonie Frieda (P)2018 Orion Publishing Group

Critic Reviews

"Leonie Frieda does this remarkable woman full justice. Refusing to play judge, she reveals her to us through the best of means, which is narrative. The skill with which Frieda finds her way through the maze of this confusing period is exemplary. You read on eagerly. An enthralling book." (Allan Massie)

"This masterful and compelling biography delivers a beautifully written portrait of a ruthless, subtle and fearless woman fighting for survival and power in a world of gangsterish brutality, routine assassination and religious mania. I quickly found I could not stop reading. This is narrative history at its best, both scholarly and as captivating as a thriller. Leonie Frieda has brought a largely forgotten heroine-villainess and a whole sumptuously vicious era back to life again. She is equally at home in the royal court as she is in the blood-reeking gutters of Paris: this is The Godfather meets Elizabeth." (Simon Sebag Montefiore)

"A stunning biography, which brings to life a heroic woman and the tumultuous, cruel and gaudy times in which she lived." (Paul Johnson)

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Excellent history of a Formidable Queen

A Florentine commoner who became queen of France during the wars of religion. Forever blamed and stained by the horrible St Bartholemew’s Day Massacres of the Huguenots, by the standards of her day she was not a cruel person.
A contemporary of England’s greatest queen, Elizabeth 1st, Catherine was France’s greatest.
P

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loved it!!!

The whole book was captivating. i always thought there isnt enough information about catherine and im happy this book its out there.

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catherine de medici

I struggled with this book, often skipping ahead. I thought the narrator drone like and the quoting of date after date confusing. Too many French quotes without translation were daunting. Overall, a boring book (only in my opinion) for what is surely a fascinating subject.

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