Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Review of When Women Ruled the World: Making the Renaissance in Europe by Maureen Quilligan

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Book Club Event = Book List (05/25/2024)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Biographies: Auto, Memoir, and Other Types

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“When later Elizabeth came to the throne, she often used this same language to her people, understanding that even a virgin queen could claim the power of being “mother” of her nation as Mary had.  Although these were not necessarily gifts Mary consciously gave to Elizabeth, as the first independent queen of England it was she who established a powerful rhetoric for female rule, which Elizabeth quite literally inherited.” – Maureen Quilligan, Chapter One: The Device for Succession, Page 10

“Catherine had suppressed all jousting performances in France after her husband Henri II’s death from the wound he’d taken during a joust, and in place of these dangerous combats, she had presented brilliant musical concerts, classical ballets (the elaborate geometric patterns of which she often personally choreographed,) and various feats of equestrian skill, such as running at the quintain, a small metal ring hanging from a swiveling armature.” – Maureen Quilligan, Chapter Four: “Sister” Queens, Mary Stuart and Elizabeth Tudor, Pages 108-109 

“With a far smaller army, she lost the battle of Langside, and the Queen of Scots was finally out of both men and money.  At that point she threw herself fully on the mercy of her sister queen in England, whom she trusted would cherish her as that sister had seemed to want to cherish her son; that sister whose gift of the gold font had sustained her wars.” – Maureen Quilligan, Chapter Five: Regicide, Republicanism, and the Death of Darnley, Page 141


Is This An Overview?

This is the story of Mary Tudor Queen of England, Elizabeth Tudor Queen of England, Mary Stuart Queen of Scotland, and Catherine de’ Medici Queen of France.  Showing how they interacted with each other, learned from each other, and resolved their conflicts.  The queens gave each other gifts.  Some were physical, as devices to influence decisions and garner cooperation.  Some were intellectual, as they learned from the others experiences to change how they ruled.  They made different relationship choices, and faced the consequences.  The queens were often divided by religion.  As their regions were engaged in the conflict between Protestants and Catholics.  The queens sometimes tried to reduce political friction, to engage in religious toleration, but their choices were limited due to competing powers. 

They were women who ruled during a time when many in their regions, and even relatives, wanted a male sovereign.  The role of women was to produce a male heir for succession.  Being female was not the only challenge to their sovereignty, as regions were also challenging the divine authority of monarchy.  An era of growing demand to turn monarchies into republics.  Political competition was another challenge, for the expansion of a kingdom or religion could had threatened the other kingdoms or religions.  The queens, and other leaders, used various maneuvers to try to obtain or prevent a kingdom from gaining more power. 



The focus of this book is on a few events, which emphasize decisions being made on account of the sovereigns being queens rather than kings.  References are made to international influences, but were given little information.  This book provides an introduction to the queens era’s political schemes, which the reader can use to search for more information about the related sovereign entities and political decisions. 

This book showcases sexist claims against women from the people during the era, that effected the era’s decisions.  Some of these claims are being reflected on and remarked with sexism against the author’s male contemporaries.  The remarks do not take up much space, but create contradictions in how the author approaches sexism.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•Who was Mary Tudor?
•Who was Elizabeth Tudor?
•Who was Mary Stuart?
•Who was Catherine de’ Medici? 
•How did the hereditary title work in practice?
•What was the purpose of royal gifts?
•How did the Queens handle religion? 
•What were the challenges to the Queens sovereignty? 
•When Mary Tudor was Queen, did Elizabeth Tudor betray Mary? 
•What succession decisions did Henry VIII make?  
•How did Henry VIII treat the daughters? 
•How did Mary Tudor handle traitors? 
•Why did Philip not return to England for Mary’s funeral?
•Why did Philip want to propose that Elizabeth become Philip’s wife?
•Why did France transition from jousting to other pursuits that were less risky? 
•What happened to Darnley? 
•How did the Roman Empire effect English life? 
•Who was James Hepburn?
•How did Darnley perish? 
•What decisions did Mary’s child, King James make?
•Why Did Mary, Queen of Scots decide to seek the help of Elisabeth after the battle of Langside? 
•What strategies did Cecil use to trap the Queens? 
•How was Mary, Queen of Scots executed? 
•How was Catherine de’ Medici treated in France?
•Why did Catherine revoke the ban against revenge?  
•Who did Mary, Queen of Scots decide was a suitable heir to the kingdom? 

Book Details
Edition:                   First Edition
Publisher:               Liveright Publishing Corporation [W. W. Norton & Company]
Edition ISBN:         9781631497964
Pages to read:          258
Publication:             2021
1st Edition:              2021
Format:                    Hardcover 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall          3