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November 07 , 2007

Four Queens

The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe


The four beautiful, cultured and clever daughters of the Count and Countess of Provence made illustrious marriages and lived at the epicentre of political power and intrigue in 13th-century Europe.

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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.

From Goldstone's 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 compelling work of history gives women their due as movers and shakers in tumultuous times.

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