Sixteenth-century Europe was a time of destabilization of age-old norms and the waging of religious wars—yet it also witnessed the flowering of a pacific culture cultivated by a cohort of women rulers who sat on Europe's thrones, most notably Mary Tudor; Elizabeth I; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Catherine de' Medici. Recasting the stories and political relationships among these four women rulers, Maureen Quilligan rewrites scholarship that sought to depict intense personal hatreds among them.
An epic saga ... The author keeps the narrative focused when it could have become mind numbingly complicated for readers not familiar with the subject, even as it discredits popular misconceptions about commonly accepted misinformation.
Intriguing ... Refut[es] traditonal narratives ... Quilligan lucidly explains the era’s complex familial, religious, and political dynamics, and draws incisive character sketches. Renaissance buffs will treasure this sparkling revisionist history.
At times, it is difficult to separate the rulers’ political exigency from their familial loyalty, but the book is a useful addition to the literature on European royalty ... An authoritative and sympathetic collective biography.