The Kings' Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin
The Mancini Sisters, Marie and Hortense, were born in Rome, brought to the court of Louis XIV of France, and strategically married off by their uncle, Cardinal Mazarin, to secure his political power base. Such was the life of many young women of the age: they had no independent status under the law and were entirely a part of their husband’s property once married. Â
The title is a bit misleading as the mistresses to kings bit is a very ...more
Hortense and Maria Mancini were women ahead of their time. They were courageous trailblazers who stood up for their independence from forced marriage and seemed to never age throughout their stories. Carefree in the worst of times, they never let circumstances get the best of them and refused to let men make all of the decisions. I think I may admire them after reading this book.
Marie and Hortense were the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin. The two, along with their siblings were born in Rome and brought to Paris: Marie was 13 and Hortense, 9. Their uncle arranged marriages for both of them – Marie first, because she was a little too cozy with King Louis XIV.
However, both Marie and Hortense's marriages didn't go well. After producing seve ...more
Although dual biographies can pose problems (bias towards one of the figures, not enough information, or a lack of ...more
"You cry, Sire, you are the king and I'm leaving. Oh, I'm abandoned!"
These words, uttered in the brutal anguish of a cruelly forbidden love, love that demanded the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of the Kingdom of France, these passionate words of a broken heart that later inspired Racine and his Berenice and which evoked the awakening of a great king, words that inspired history and turned fate in a slightly different direction. I often wonder what would have happened in some other world, w ...more
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Read.
I love really history books. And this one is not a romance type novel, but more of a well written history. It is fascinating to learn about real people and their unusual lives. Hortense and Marie aristocrat by birth, were raised by all mean in in rich house and were Cardinal Mazarin's nieces. It is not only shows the life style on 16 th century, but how out of ordinary the characters in the book w ...more
I enjoyed this non-fiction book. However, I feel it could have been done better. The research that went into the book appears to be excellent, the author seems to have a complete understanding of the times and events. But, I would have liked to see it put together a little more like a novel. Sometimes the time-line jumps forwad and backwards a few years. Some events or back story is just thrown in for justification. I feel that the sisters liberal efforts could ...more
At its best, biography gives you a window into time and place that formal histories can't give, because they tend to focus on period (and on period as divided up in the nineteenth century, reigns and eras) and even more so on place -- on one country ...more
I'm halfway through. Since this is a history book rather than a historical novel, it can stray to being a recitation of events rather than a narrative at times. The exerts of the sister's letters and journals keep it from getting too dry though. I have only one minor complaint about the writing. The author could have called out their ages a little more often as the story progresses. The sisters had such tumultuous lives it was hard to keep track of how old they ...more
I only had a few problems with Goldsmith's work, which is why it didn't quite make a 5 star rating. Despite the fact that it was easy to read, I felt that it could have perhaps been a bit longer or more ...more
Hortense was married to a LUNATIC. Seriously. I could not get over how crazy ...more
I love a good story about women pushing the boundaries in times past, especially when they are based on real people. The Kings' Mistresses is the true tale of two sisters: Marie Mancini and her younger sister Hortense, the nieces of one of the most powerful men in seventeenth century France, Cardinal Mazarin (a protégé of Richelieu.) In 1653 Marie, "a dark-haired and intelligent-looking adolescent of thirteen" and Hortense, ...more
Nonetheless, I finished this book and really enjoyed it. Goldsmith is a professor at Boston University and I got to hear her lecture about this book and her research last year - she was a very dynamic speaker, and I was instantly intrigued by the story of these ...more
They were nieces of Cardinal Mazarin who brought them to Louis XIV's court as young girls, then married them off to remove them from the king. History has been unkind to them, por ...more
I came into this book already a fan of Hortense (because "the mistresses of Charles II" is one of my areas of interest in British history, alongside the following: Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Plantagenets, definitely not the Tudors ugh, sometimes ...more
Well this is as much a history lesson as it is about a pair of sisters who seem to be out of their timeline.
As part of the story narrative we peek in on life in England, France, Italy, and Spain during the mid to late 1600's. Which means that while you have the story about the adventures of the two sisters you are also learning, very devious on the part of the author; but welcome.
Hortense and Marie just don't seem to want t ...more