Posted in 16th Century

Symbols and Emblems of the French Monarchy in 16th Century France

I first read of Diane de Poitiers in 2006 in a book by Diane Haeger titled Courtesan. I was intrigued by the descriptions of the personal badges she and the royals took, the reasoning behind them and the extent to which they were carved and displayed. Some survive to this day and in a way it is the mark of Henri’s everlasting love for Diane. Though Diane is an antagonist in C. W. Gortner’s novel, I still adore her because my first impression was set with Haeger’s novels. Both stories are unique and wonderfully rendered and I recommend them both for those interested in early Renaissance France. I’ll start with Francois I, who took the salamander as his emblem. Salamanders were thought to have mystical…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Tudor Secret

The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner England, Summer 1553: Brendan Prescott, a foundling serving in the household of the Dudley family, is immediately immersed in political intrigue when he joins the court as Lord Robert’s squire. With an unknown background and generic face, he makes the perfect spy and is only too happy to lend his services to the regal Princess Elizabeth. Along the way he discovers the pieces to his past and uncovers treasonous plots that endanger himself and those he loves. If you’re a fan of historical mysteries and the Tudors, this is the perfect read for you. King Edward is dying, Northumberland is scheming and both Princess Mary and Princess Elizabeth are questioning the events taking place. Brendan is courting danger…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Spanish Inquisition

review: The Queen’s Vow

The Queen’s Vow by C. W. Gortner Isabella of Castile is classically remembered as an indomitable queen and a byword for the Spanish Inquisition. Many readers have only a vague sense of her character from reading novels in which she was mentioned by name or played a small role. C. W. Gortner takes this enigma and breathes life into a complex and misunderstood woman, from her early childhood in royal poverty, through her volatile adolescence at her brother’s insidious court, and finally to her trials and triumphs as Queen of Castile. Isabella’s personality is fixed early on as a responsible and dutiful daughter, caring for her ailing mother and worrying over her younger brother, who is being set at the head of a rival faction…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews

review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C. W. Gortner C. W. Gortner has once again taken a controversial historical figure and made her into an admirable protagonist. Like Juana from The Last Queen, Catherine de Medici has not enjoyed a plethora of novels depicting her in a positive light. From Jean Plaidy’s trilogy (Madame Serpent, The Italian Woman and Queen Jezebel) to The Devil’s Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis to Susan Carroll’s Dark Queen series you can find much fiction based around this Italian born French queen, but none quite give Catherine a chance at being a reasonable woman and meritable monarch. Until now. If you’re looking for just another novel on a murderous, power-hungry queen, this is not your book! In The Confessions of…

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