Thursday, June 30, 2016

I enjoyed this book and will look for more from this author.

Enjoyable book about the women surrounding both King Henry the VIII and Francis I, the King of France. Both men came from a background of strong women, and while the Tudor women are more well known, author Soberton chooses to explore Francis's mother and sister rather than the powerhouse of Margaret Beaufort or Elizabeth of York, Henry's mother.
I got to learn more about the French Queen Claude, her mother Anne of Brittney, as well as her rival Louise of Savoy, and her daughter Margaret; all the women who impacted Francis and his children. Soberton describes the court and culture of the day, giving a vivid picture of life in England and France. She explains the tangled bloodlines and their complicated loyalties that caused stress between brothers and sisters, or husbands and wives.
Regarding Henry, she spends her time describing each of his wives, and their impact on his court. Ann Boleyn's role in French diplomacy is explored as well as Kathryn Parr's interests in the Reformation. The importance of Henry's sister, Mary the French Queen and her illegal and hurried marriage to Charles Brandon is also explained.
While Henry and Francis are kings, the stars of this book are clearly the women circling their orbit. In some cases, it's the friendship between brother and sister that may have shaped policies, in others its the intimacy of a husband and wife, or even the strong bond of mother and son. Soberton is able to show that no king ruled without the influence of a female playing a subtle role in shaping his thoughts and perhaps the very policies of ruling their country.
I enjoyed this book and will look for more from this author. She writes readable history that breaks it into a presentation making it easy for a novice to understand the roles of people can play in history. While much time is usually spent on the martial woes of King Henry's and Francis's son King Henri's, Soberton provides a glorious picture of women embracing the Northern Renaissance and using their wits to survive during a time when they had little power. She shows they learned to use their intelligence to sway important people of the time, so that they might achieve what they thought was the right things for the world. While they may say behind every great man there is a woman, perhaps it proves those world leaders may not have gotten there without the support and influence of these superwomen.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

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