Synopses & Reviews
In an epic drama of love, death, and betrayal, Leonie Frieda charts the rise and fall of the Italian Renaissance through the lives of the princesses who helped shape it.
Mothers of popes and wives of princes, the women who feature in The Deadly Sisterhood were joined by birth, marriage, or friendship, and all ruled for a time in the place of their dead or absent menfolk. An intricate network of blood ties bound them together even as passion, treachery, and greed set sister against sister. These were women who were not afraid to wield the sword against their enemies in the murderous struggles that dominated the Italian Peninsula in the fifteenth century. Each experienced great riches, power, and the warm smile of fortune, but each also knew banishment, imprisonment, poverty, attempts on her life, and the loss of a husband or child.
Leonie Frieda brilliantly reassesses the reputations of celebrated figures such as Isabella d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, while exposing the influence of neglected characters such as Isabella d'Aragona and Clarice Orsini on the brutal dynastic conflicts of the fifteenth century.
From sleeping with the enemy to leading troops into battle, The Deadly Sisterhood explodes the myth that Renaissance women were passive bystanders. Far from being confined to patronage and piety, these women proved that as rulers, politicians, warriors, and lovers they equalled—if not overshadowed—the men whose power they shared.
"Frieda (Catherine de Medici) recreates the glittering, turbulent, and densely entwined lives of eight intrepid, highly intelligent Italian Renaissance 'consorts and ducal daughters,' who greatly influenced the fates of the men who ruled their milieu. Among them were Lucrezia Tornabuoni, a 'trusted emissary' for her husband Florentine leader Piero Medici and later a 'principal adviser' to their son, the famous statesman and patron of the arts Lorenzo the Magnificent. With Lucrezia's death, her overshadowed daughter-in-law, Clarice Orsini, took 'a more prominent role as Lorenzo's proxy,' helping him expand Medici alliances with Naples, Rome, and the papacy, 'while securing a consistent power base within Florence.' Caterina Sforza, Countess of ForlÃ¬, was a beautiful virago who 'led troops into battle,' commandeering Rome's Castel Sant'Angelo and threatening the city's 'great men' to protect her family's interests. Lucrezia Borgia's three marriages into the powerful Sforza, Aragona, and Este clans furthered the political ambitions of her father, Pope Alexander VI, and brothers, but she was reviled for rumors of having an incestuous relationship with her father and blamed for a husband's murder. Although too much information is crammed into one book (though, thankfully, there are detailed family trees), this is still an alluring and worthy study of the powerful matriarchs at the helm of Italy's great Renaissance-era dynasties. 24 pages of color illus. Agent: George Capel, Capel & Land, U.K." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“…scholarly yet very human story of some talented women who held surprising sway in the incredible clutter of city-states that composed Renaissance Italy…Richly researched and deeply complex - at times sufficient to bemuse as much as inform.” Kirkus
“An alluring and worthy study of the powerful matriarchs at the helm of Italys great Renaissance-era dynasties” Publishers Weekly
“Leonie Frieda presents Renaissance history in a fresh, new light…recounting the exploits of eight women whose actions and experiences often rocked the Italian Renaissance world.” Booklist
“…fast-paced, vivid book…Friedas lively, intimate descriptions are exciting and informative. Any reader interested in the Renaissance will find something to enjoy here…” Library Journal
“A fresh look at eight fascinating women and their far-reaching impact…Their stories take readers through the lifespan of the Renaissance from an eye-opening new perspective in the compulsively readable, intellectually rigorous account of an extraordinary century.” Examiner.com
“Spirited…action-packed…full of bright, brash women…the contessas of Venice, Naples, Florence and Rome were more than happy to liquidate their rivals, command armies and do whatever it took to keep power firmly in their silk-gloved grasp.” Daily Mail (London)
“A torrent of poisoned daggers, ruthless politics and sexual intrigue…An interesting introduction to the turbulent back story to all those serenely smiling portraits” Sunday Times (London)
“A wide-ranging historical narrative about the women and power struggles that dominated Italy in the late 15th and early 16th centuries” The Spectator
“Leonie Frieda has created a web of Renaissance women bound together by blood, politics, and a gift for ruling on a level before their time.” Daily Beast
“A more inclusive history that points to the talents and strengths of women...Riveting.” Providence Journal
From Leonie Frieda, critically acclaimed biographer of Catherine de Medici, comes The Deadly Sisterhood
: an epic tale of eight women whose lives—marked by fortune and poverty, power and powerlessness—encompass the spectacle, opportunity, and depravity of Italys Renaissance.
Lucrezia Turnabuoni, Clarice Orsini, Beatrice dEste, Isabella dEste, Caterina Sforza, Giulia Farnese, Isabella dAragona, and Lucrezia Borgia shared the riches of their birthright: wealth, political influence, and friendship, but none were not exempt from personal tragedies, exile, and poverty.
With riveting narrative, Leonie Friedas The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427-1527 brings to life a long-gone era filled with intrigue, corruption, and passion.
About the Author
Leonie Frieda is the author of Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, which was a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and was translated into eight languages. She lives in London.