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Starred Review. Resilient Queen Joanna of Naples (1326–1382) weathered overwhelming political challenges, financial ruin and a papal-run murder trial for the death of her Hungarian husband—all by age 22. Veteran author Goldstone (Four Queens) expertly describes bloodthirsty 14th-century politics and the complex family entanglements that encouraged siblings and cousins to clash over kingdoms like toddlers brawling over toys. Adding to the fray was Joanna's military support for anti-pope Clement VII against Pope Urban VI, ultimately helping create the Great Schism. Although primarily set in pre-Renaissance Naples, familiar contemporaries such as England's Black Prince and St. Catherine of Siena appear. Joanna repeatedly suffered violently jealous consorts, intrusive popes and envious relatives. Goldstone effectively proves Joanna's innate leadership through the queen's mastery of complex legal arguments and her formidable resilience through four husbands and relentless challenges to her royal status. Packed with action and effortless to read, Goldstone's account will satisfy scholars and entertain book clubs with a heroine who had persistence and unbounded dedication to her realm. 16 pages of color illus; 3 maps.(Nov.)
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ISBN-10:  0802716709
ISBN-13:  978-0802716705
Author:  Nancy Goldstone
Genre:  History, Nonfiction
Publisher:  Walker & Company
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review by . September 09, 2009
I've always believed that the Middle Ages was a time of intrigue, murder and general mayhem, and this book certainly confirms that belief! It's a biography of a remarkable woman who was Queen of Naples (among other places), and had to carefully work her way through all of the dangers and conspiracies that existed at that time.    Women were considered commodities then, and even a queen was used as a bargaining chip in forming marriage alliances among other rulers. Joanna had …
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