Historian Nancy Goldstone examines medieval Europe from the point of view of four Provençal sisters who played key roles in shaping history. Marguerite, Eleanor, Sanchia, and Beatrice were daughters of the count of Provence; through their marriages they became queens of France, England, Germany, and Sicily. This engaging story highlights the crucial role each sister played in shaping history. Narrator Josephine Bailey adds a note of refined elegance with her clear and clipped British accent while expertly pronouncing the often complicated and obscure names. Rather than attempting accents and voices, Bailey keeps a steady and impassive tone throughout, raising her voice only in moments of extreme emotion. This technique enhances the third-person objective perspective of the text.
From a cultured childhood in Provence, each sister was propelled into a world marked by shifting alliances, intrigue, and subterfuge: Marguerite, the eldest, whose resolution and spirit would be tested by the cold splendor of the Palais du Roi in Paris; Eleanor, whose soaring political aspirations would provoke her kingdom to civil war; Sanchia, the neglected wife of the richest man in England, who bought himself the crown of Germany; and Beatrice, whose desire for sovereignty was so acute that she risked her life to earn her place at the royal table.
Four Queens shatters the myth that women were helpless pawns in a society that celebrated physical prowess and masculine intellect. A riveting historical saga for fans of Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser.
©2007 Nancy Goldstone; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"On Goldstone's...rich, beautifully woven tapestry, medieval Europe springs to vivid life....This is a fresh, eminently enjoyable history." (Publishers Weekly)
A scholarly but readable account of Eleanor, Marguerite, Sanchia, and Beatrice of Provence. These four incredible, strong, and influential women helped define Europe during the thirteenth century. My favorite medieval time period is the fourteenth century. Reading this work gave me much greater insight into the events that helped shape the fourteenth century and the curious relationship between England and France.
This book did not seem very well organized and the story was not told in chronoligical order. It was as if someone was stringing together bits of histrorical facts from different sources. One chapter tells of the death of one of the women and in the next chapter it is related that she spent the Christmas season with the family in France. I give the narrator credit for for doing a good job with the material she had to work with. I don't know how I managed to listen to the entire book.
Great book! Wonderful way to introduce someone who "hates" history -- especially a teenage girl or woman -- to the beauty of history. But this isn't history just for females, although it does emphasize the oft-overlooked impact powerful, shrewd, well-connected women had on historical events. I'll probably buy the hardcopy to get more complete info -- maps, etc. I loved it!
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