Catherine De Medici

  • by Leonie Frieda
  • Narrated by Anna Massey
  • 6 hrs and 43 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Catherine de Medici was half French, half Italian. Orphaned in infancy, she was the sole legitimate heiress to the Medici family fortune. Married at 14 to the future Henri II of France, she was constantly humiliated by his influential mistress Diane de Poitiers.When her husband died as a result of a duelling accident in Paris - Leonie Frieda's magnificent, throat-grabbing opening chapter - Catherine was made queen regent during the short reign of her eldest son. (He was married to Mary Queen of Scots and, like many of her children, he died young.) When her second son became king, she was the power behind the throne.Leonie Frieda has returned to original sources and re-read the thousands of letters left by Catherine. There has not been a biography in English of Catherine for many years, and she believes that the time has come to show her as one of the most influential women in 16th-century Europe.

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What the Critics Say

"Leonie Frieda tells an enthralling story that includes incest, vicious religious wars, assassination, poison, the occult and, in Catherine's own words, 'passion, hatred and vengeance'." (Options XIII)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An outstanding performance of an excellent book

It isn't easy to find much in English, far less on audio, about the Valois monarchs. It was for that reason I turned to this biography and am very glad I did. I knew little of Catherine before listening to this, and now find myself wanting to learn much more about those around her, from her friend and sister-in-law Marguerite, Duchesse de Berri to her nemesis Diane de Poitiers and many more besides. I also longed to learn more about the architecture and decoration of the many chateaux, such as Chenonceau and Anet. That feeling of wanting to know more is a great treat when reading history, and sadly, sometimes it is a rare one! Frieda's biography is rich and dense with information, and there is never a dull moment for those who love French history. Anna Massey's performance is, as always, outstanding in every way. I only wish the book could have been three times longer, with many incidents gone into with greater detail, so greatly did I enjoy it. I hope you will love it, too.
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- Die Falknerin "Painter, musician, bibliophile..."

Why isn't Catherine known as a she-wolf?

This is a most interesting biography of an extraordinary woman who appeared to be prepared to do almost anything for her children - she poisoned, she murdered and she dabbled in the dark arts for them. She was closely involved in the infamous St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of the Huguenots yet history sees her as the Queen Mother who was the power behind the throne of Charles IX and Henri III and as such a good ruler of France.

I've recently read about Isabelle who was labelled the She-Wolf of France which seems to a bit unfair, yet Catherine who quite clearly could be so labelled is fairly untarnished by history. I guess that proves the point History is written by the Victors!

English history seems very straight forward yet in comparison French history seems ridiculously complicated and convoluted - the time of the French Wars of Religion are no less tortuous and twisted yet thru it all schemed Catherine.

This is a book for history lovers particularly those interested in 16th Century and Tudor history wanting an understanding of French goings on at the same time as Elizabeth I. I personally would preferred to have been in the English Court at this time - far less confusing and far safer!
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- Neil Chisholm ""fabric artist and quilter""

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-06-2008
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited