Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What I'm Reading: January, 2019


Famous Women in my Family Tree

Something a little different for the new year.  Many of you know that I have been busy working on my genealogy.  Over the past few years I've enjoyed reading biographies of some of the famous women that I've discovered in my family tree, and I'm starting the year out with a biography of Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots (partially because there is a new movie out about her).  Therefore, I thought I'd also share a few of the  books on famous women from my family tree that I've read recently and think worth spending some time with.

Queen of Scots:  The True Life of Mary Stuart  by John Guy

  • My 3rd cousin 13x removed was Queen of Scots from 1542 (when she was 6 days old) until she was executed in 1567 by Queen Elizabeth I, my 2nd cousin 14x removed.  This is the book that the current film "Mary, Queen of Scots" is based on.  The movie is worth seeing (even though it takes some artistic license with the historical facts.

Marie Antoinette
Queen of Fashion:  What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution by Caroline Weber (2006)

  • Not as frivolous as the title sounds.  My 4th cousin 9x removed, Maria Antonia von Habsburg (1755-1793) - better know in history as Marie Antoinette - developed her reputation for fashionable excess, and Weber explains the political controversies that her clothing proviked.  As queen, Marie Antoinetter used stunning and often extreme costumes to project an image of power and to wage war against her enemies.  Graduarlly, however, she began to lose her hold on the Frensh when she started to adopt "unqueenly" outfits - including the provocative chemise) that ironically would become favored by the very revolutionaries who executed her.  

Joan by Anne R. Bailey (Forgotten Women of History Series)

  • This is the story of Joan de Geneville (1286-1356), my 21st great grandmother and wife of one of England's most infamous traitors,  Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March.  After the death of her father in 1292, Joan became one of the greatest English heiresses of her generation.  In a time when women were subservient, she was raised by her mother to command and became a formidable women in her own right.

Daughters of the Winter Queen:  Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots by Nancy Goldstone

  • The Winter Queen, Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I of England, granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots, and my 5th cousin 11x removed, reigned as Queen Consort of Bohemia for just one winter and was deposed in events that sparked the Thirty Years War that devastated Europe while turning France into a continental powerhouse.

The Maid and the Queen:  The Secret History of Joan of Arc by Nancy Goldstone
  • Yolanda of Aragon, my 18th great grandmother and one of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages was: thrown claimant and tituar Queen Regnant of Aragon; titular Queen Consort of Naples; Duchess of Anjou; Countess of Provence; and Regent of Provence during the minority of her son.  Joan of Arc (no known relationship) claimed that it was the hand of God that was responsible for her success in battle - but it may also have been the hand of Yolanda of Aragon.

The Rival Queens:  Catherine de' Medici, her Daugher Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom by Nancy Goldtone

  • The story of mother and daughter queens Catherine de' Medici (my 7th cousin 13x removed) and Marguerite de Valois (my 8th cousin 12x removed) whose wildly divergent personality and turbulent relationship changed the shape of their tempestuous and dangerous century.

Four Queen:  The Provencal Sisters who Ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone

  • Four provocative sisters from Provence - Marguerite (my 22nd great grandmother), Eleanor (my 22nd great grandmother), Sanchia (my 23rd great aunt), and Beatrice (my 22nd great grandmother) - rose from near obscurity to become the most coveted and power women in Europe, each become a rule of a European power - France, England, Germany, and Sicily.

The Tigress of Forli:  Renaissance Italy's Most Courages and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de' Medici by Elizabeth Lev

  • My 16th great grandmother, Caterina Sforza, was a brilliant and fearless ruler, a strategist of match Machiavelli, and a warrior who stood toe-to-toe with the Borgias.

What I'm Reading: September, 2021

While working on my family tree yesterday, I discovered that a branch that I thought was mostly German turned out to be filled with Dutch re...