Four Queens: The Provencal Sister Who Ruled Europe
by Nancy Goldstone.
I loved it. It could be called history light because it read like a novel and didn't get bogged down in references on every page, but the information was staggering. If you have any interest in 13th century European history it's worth a look-see.
I only have one minor complaint. If the illuminations they used had been in colour on the original documents I would have like to have seen them that way, faded or otherwise, instead of in black and white.
The four beautiful, cultured and clever daughters of the Count and Countess of Provence made illustrious marriages and lived at the epicenter of political power and intrigue in 13th-century Europe. Marguerite accompanied her husband, King Louis IX of France, on his disastrous first crusade to the Holy Land, where straight from childbirth she ransomed him from the Mamluks. And with her sister Eleanor, queen of England, Marguerite engineered a sturdy peace between France and England. Ambitious Eleanor walked a narrow line while she struggled to build her own power base without alienating her cowardly husband, Henry III. Beatrice's coronation as queen of Sicily was the culmination of her long, hard-fought campaign to earn respect from her world-famous, mightily accomplished older siblings. Sanchia wed one of the richest men in Europe, but her reign as queen of Germany, brought her only misery. On Goldstone's (coauthor of The Friar and the Cipher) rich, beautifully woven tapestry, medieval Europe springs to vivid life, from the lavish menus of the royal banquets and the sweet songs of the troubadours to the complex machinations of the pope against the Holy Roman Emperor. This is a fresh, eminently enjoyable history that gives women their due as movers and shakers in tumultuous times.
....when Sanchia arrived in England they called her Cynthia. That makes the sisters in order: M,E,C,B. I am one of four sisters. Our order? M,E,C,B. I found that mildly noteworthy *grin*