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Four Queens

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#1 hartforth



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Posted 01 April 2008 - 11:22 PM

[font="Verdana"]Long, long ago, centuries back in time, there lived four beautiful daughters of the Count of Provence. These Provençal sisters were ambitious, clever, and lived in the right place at the right time – all four of them married Kings. The newest book by Nancy Goldstone, "Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe," is the amazing story of their fairy-tale lives. This enchanting historical tome transports the reader back in time to the high middle ages, when knights in shining armor rescued damsels in distress, handsome princes came to request a daughter's hand in marriage, and folks believed in unicorns.

The first daughter, Marguerite, married King Louis IX of France, also known as Saint Louis. A pious and sincere man, Louis was passionate about gothic architecture, and escorted Marguerite on a discovery tour of Paris that included the newly built Cathedral of Notre Dame. Marguerite accompanied Louis on the Seventh Crusade, and negotiated for his ransom after he was caught and held hostage by the Egyptians. She was for a brief time the only woman ever to lead a crusade.

The second daughter, Eleanor, married King Henry III of England. She had never seen him prior to the wedding at Canterbury Cathedral, but hit the lottery in terms of having a loving husband. Henry doted on her, gave her an endless chain of expensive presents, lands, castles, love and affection. He hired most all of her relatives to hold high positions in the English court, and bestowed lavish gifts on her kin. One such gift to her uncle Peter, Earl of Savoy, was the property on The Strand in London, where Peter built a magnificent palace. Today, that property is the site of the famous Savoy Hotel.

The third daughter, Sanchia (Cynthia) married Richard, 1st Earl of Cornwall, who became the King of Germany. Richard was the younger brother of King Henry III, but vastly richer. He possibly was the wealthiest man in the entire world at the time. Sanchia was crowned Queen of the Romans and Queen of Germany with her husband in 1257 at Aachen Cathedral in Germany. For 600 years, from 936 to 1531, the Aachen chapel was the church of coronation for 30 German kings and 12 queens.

The baby, Beatrice, married Charles of Anjou, who became the King of Sicily. Sicily was an entire kingdom, not just the island as we know it today. He also became King of Albania in 1272 and King of Jerusalem in 1277 Charles was the younger brother of King Louis IX of France (Marguerite's husband), and accompanied Louis on the Seventh and Eighth Crusades.

These four queens luxuriated in extraordinary lives, traveling to the Holy Land, keeping court, enjoying grandiose rendezvous with their royal siblings, and, perhaps most of all, being heralded the most influential women in the world. In their homeland of Provence, troubadours composed songs about their beauty and virtues, and sang their praises throughout the expanse of Europe.

Four Queens gives us a glimpse into life in the 13th century, when chivalry and courtly love, castles flanked by rose gardens and the prized scent of gardenia, poetic troubadours and brave barons were part of every day life. This book is an easy read, and perfect for the novice with no background in medieval history.

Review written by Anton Anderssen


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#2 Melisende


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Posted 03 April 2008 - 05:29 AM

Thanks for the review! - These women certainly were - if I may say - ahead of their times.

I had read that Beatrice, jealous that her sisters all had crowns but she did not, complained to her father who arranged her marriage to Charles, who looked to being on a good thing in Sicily. And the fact that Maria of Antioch sold her rights to Jerusalem then became an added bonus. She was now in a better social position that her older sister whom she had long envied.

These women followed after Eleanor of Aquitaine and the other "crusading" women (in both senses) - it was a time in history where women could assert a form of independence and could take on more than just a "house-wifely" role. Having said that, managing a huge household was no small task.
~~~ Melisende

"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Women of History