Book Reviews History

Book Review: Game of Queens by Sarah Gristwood

Jane Seymour (1)

Some of the most fascinating stories in history are those of the women. Some of the women ruled behind their men while others served their Ladies. Some were even ladies who later became Queen.

This story is based on history and tells us the story of many women, from Isabella I of Castille to Mary, Queen of Scots. The women who made the sixteenth century.

As a woman, I respect what these female pioneers went through. In the sixteenth century a woman was generally a chess piece, not a master at the game. When times got tough it was those very women who were able to calm the waters and bring countries together. I’d like to believe that that is our part in this world – the peacekeepers.

The story begins with a great quote ?Anne de Beaujeau’s manuel of instruction for her daughter: “Whatever you do, place yourself in the service of a lady who is well regarded, who is constant, and who has good judgement.”

As someone who primarily researches Tudor history I had a hard time getting into the stories outside of England and Scotland, however it was intriguing to learn more about Anne Boleyn. As a child Anne served Margaret of Austria and was educated at her court – an honor indeed. Through the story telling we see all the women’s live intertwine, which at points can be confusing if you’re not all that familiar. Take your time and stop and do more research if you need to because this book is a cornucopia of the who’s who of women in Europe in the sixteenth century.

I love how we learn more about one of my favorite female “villains”, Catherine de Medici. In my opinion she was one of the most powerful and brilliant women in all of Europe – she knew how to get what she wanted and would do whatever it took to get there…even being accused of poisoning the gloves of?Jeanne d’Albret.

This book, for me, opened my eyes even more to the power of women in the sixteenth century. Gristwood did an amazing job researching each person and telling their story in a brilliant way. This is not historical fiction, it is clearly non-fiction and at points may be hard to read – I highly suggest powering through any sections that are of less interest to you because in the end the story is an amazing one.

I would rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Here are a few of the power players in the book:

Anne of Beaujeu (France)
Anne of Beaujeu (France)
Margaret of Austria
Margaret of Austria
Jeanne d'Albret
Jeanne d’Albret
Katherine of Aragon
Katherine of Aragon
Anne Boleyn
Margaret Tudor
Catherine de Medici
Catherine de Medici
 Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, the ?Drewe Portrait?, late 1580s. 1580s George Gower, Attributed to d.1596
Queen Elizabeth Tudor
Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots


  1. Please see my facebook page: D. Charles Rice .
    We are the surviving American Tudors as described to me by my father in 1978 at age 92. His Marsh family goes back to the great grandfather Ralph Marsh of Whitehall Marsh connection in Ohio and the Codrington’s of Watchfield Mannor Bath, England. Henry VIII left the manor of St. Catherine’s Priory to Ethelralda Maulte the Kings Taylor. She in turn left it to her daughter, and her daughter so on down to Anne Steubbs Codrington Marsh of London. Codrington was the family Anne Steubbs married into and they were in Ohio 1850 where my grandmother marsh is descended from them. My father knew of this and at age 92 told me about the connection to Etheleralda. Further his own bloodline and mine is now proved to be Sutton Dudley as in Sir Robert Dudley 1532. we match Dudley DNA 60/67 markers of known cousins of Dudley. Further: The boy raised by Sir John Perrot 1528 the queens 1/2 brother by Mary Berkley Pughe is named as my 8th great grandfather: John Perratt II 1565 enrolled at Oxford Greys Inn 1580. He’s the father of my known 7th great grandfather Perrot ap Rice 1598 of Tenby and he’s the father of my proved 6th great grandfather. My mother is the 15th great grand daughter of Owen Tudor and Catherin de Valois. Our mother was chosen by our father because she is descended from the Windsor Castle Chalfant stock…See Lucy and Elizabeth Chalfant 1541 and brother William Chalfant also 1541. Anne of Cleaves is a great Aunt. Our faces represent The Tudors, Valois, Henry III of France and Louis XI….that’s 4 lines of Tudor DNA in one marriage. D. Charles Rice 1948 and the American Tudors

        1. Another post has some comments about genealogy that some did not appreciate. I will never discourage conversation about genealogy since that is another passion of mine.

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