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Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France - Leonie Frieda

A strong French ruler.

I have graded this book according to my enjoyment of it, but I do feel that under different circumstances I might have been giving it a higher rating. There were two problems; firstly my complete lack of knowledge of French history, which meant that all the names were new to me and I had nothing to relate the events to, other than English history of the time. Secondly, I was listening to the abridged audiobook which, I would assume, includes all the dry facts, without the background detail that makes history so fascinating. In addition, I notice other reviewers referring to the fabulous colour photographs and, of course, these would have been absent. 

In spite of the issues with the abridged audiobook, I did come away with a distinct image of Catherine de Medici and that era of French History. It has also made me aware of the problems caused by disease, namely syphilis and tuberculosis, which killed and disabled several important members of the French ruling family. Catherine de Medici was a ruthless queen, who only attained power due to the death of her husband, Henry. She was determined to hand the reigns on to her sons, but they were too young and/or sickly to take full control and so she retained power, by default, for many years.

This was a quite sympathetic picture of a lady who has been dubbed ruthless by historians over the years. I'd now be interested to read a slightly harsher version of her life, or possibly an historical fiction version.