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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of Catherine de Medici returns to 16th-century Europe in this evocative and entertaining biography that re-creates a remarkable era of French history and brings to life a great monarch - Francis I - who turned France into a great nation. 

Catherine de Medici's father-in-law, King Francis of France, was the perfect Renaissance knight, the movement's exemplar and its Gallic interpreter. An aesthete, diplomat par excellence, and contemporary of Machiavelli, Francis was the founder of modern France, whose sheer force of will and personality molded his kingdom into the first European superpower. Arguably the man who introduced the Renaissance to France, Francis was also the prototype Frenchman - a national identity was modeled on his character. So great was his stamp that few countries even now are quite so robustly patriotic as is France. Yet as Leonie Frieda reveals, Francis did not always live up to his ideal; a man of grand passions and vision, he was also a flawed husband, father, lover, and king. 

With access to private archives that have never been used in a study of Francis I, Frieda explores the life of a man who was the most human of the monarchs of the period - and yet remains the most elusive.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 Leonie Frieda (P)2018 Orion Publishing Group

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Rekindling salamandrine fires...

Leonie Frieda was responsible for reawakening my interested in Valois history through her biography of Catherine de Medici. In this biography of Catherine's father-in-law, she brings to life an all but forgotten king.

Frieda's research and erudition are impressive, but her writing is always lively and intriguing, never dull. There is so little available in English about the Valois monarchs, apart from the dreck that passes for historical fiction and is propogated through the preposterous miniseries adapted therefrom! If you're really interested in the times of the Valois, read both of Frieda's excellent books instead.

Frieda makes the time period come to life, as she did with Catherine, and illustrates just how complicated, contradictory, and sometimes exasperating, François was. Many of his decisions are no less than baffling, while others are brilliant. Coddled by his mother, Louise of Savoy, he would also be led by other women in his life, sometimes disastrously so. Both a biography and a portrait of France, the book illuminates a France unfamiliar to many. Truly his reign set the foundation for French modernity in countless ways.

May you enjoy it as much as I did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent and well researched

This book helped me have a better grasp of French history and how it meshed with that of England, Italy, Spain, and other parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Great narration.

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A chronology, not an analysis

I purchased this book because I was intrigued by the subtitle 'The Maker of Modern France', having thought that if anyone deserves the title of 'maker of modern France' it's Richelieu or maybe Henri IV . However, there is nothing about this in the book. The book itself is a reasonably good description of Francis' rather pointless wars and feuds, particularly with Emperor Charles V and Henry VIII, as well as some interesting descriptions of life at his court. But that is it. Nothing about the growth of French Protestantism, nothing more than a passing mention of the growing power of the Guise, to name just two obvious omissions. I was hoping there would be _some_ sort of summing up in the penultimate chapter - nope, just a long description of Francis' funeral. So overall, this book was disappointing, it's more like a well written and very long Wikipedia article, and in no way lives up to its billing. Just go to Wikipedia, you'll probably learn about more and in a lot less time.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful