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Game of Queens

The Women Who Made Sixteenth-Century Europe


A BBC History magazine Book of the Year and an Best Book of the Month

As religion divided sixteenth-century Europe, an extraordinary group of women rose to power. They governed nations while kings fought in foreign lands. They ruled on behalf of nephews, brothers and sons. They negotiated peace between their warring nations. For decades, they ran Europe. Small wonder that it was in this century that the queen became the most powerful piece on the chessboard.

From mother to daughter and mentor to protégée, Sarah Gristwood follows the passage of power from Isabella of Castile and Anne de Beaujeu through Anne Boleyn – the woman who tipped England into religious reform – and on to Elizabeth I and Jeanne d’Albret, heroine of the Protestant Reformation. Unravelling a gripping historical narrative, Gristwood reveals the stories of the queens who had, until now, been overshadowed by kings.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (October 6, 2016)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780749952

‘Gristwood handles multiple narrative strands with tremendous finesse... Densely packed with fascinating material, this immensely ambitious undertaking succeeds triumphantly.’

– Literary Review

‘A masterpiece that effortlessly and enthrallingly interweaves the amazing stories of women who ruled in Europe during the Renaissance period...and a pacy and illuminating good read.’

– Alison Weir

‘Engaging and highly readable.’

– BBC History Magazine, Books of the Year

‘Gristwood brings them all to life with her usual mix of character study and pacy narrative’.

– History Revealed

‘Gristwood interweaves the drama of monarchy with its more domestic moments.’

– Telegraph

‘A fast-paced chronological narrative bursting with intrigue.’

– Publishers Weekly

‘Sarah Gristwood’s study of the brilliant, beleaguered and often bloody difficult women who kept Europe going in the sixteenth century is compelling, clear-eyed, beautifully rendered and never-more-timely.’

– Jessie Childs

‘A magnificent exploration of a most remarkable group…Gristwood gives us impeccable research, incisive attention to detail and exquisite writing as she investigates these truly fascinating women and their lives of courage, tribulation and determination. Absolutely unputdownable.’

– Kate Williams, author of The Storms of War