The Kings' Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin

Overview

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.  

Marie and Hortense, however, had other ambitions in mind altogether. Miserable in their marriages and ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (34) from $1.99   
  • New (17) from $1.99   
  • Used (17) from $1.99   
The Kings' Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$15.49
BN.com price
(Save 42%)$26.99 List Price

Overview

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.  

Marie and Hortense, however, had other ambitions in mind altogether. Miserable in their marriages and determined to live independently, they abandoned their husbands in secret and began lives of extraordinary daring on the run and in the public eye. The beguiling sisters quickly won the affections of noblemen and kings alike. Their flight became popular fodder for salon conversation and tabloids, and was closely followed by seventeenth-century European society. The Countess of Grignan remarked that they were traveling “like two heroines out of a novel.” Others gossiped that they “were roaming the countryside in pursuit of wandering lovers.”
 
 
Their scandalous behavior—disguising themselves as men, gambling, and publicly disputing with their husbands—served as more than just entertainment. It sparked discussions across Europe concerning the legal rights of husbands over their wives.Elizabeth Goldsmith’s vibrant biography of the Mancini sisters—drawn from personal papers of the players involved and the tabloids of the time—illuminates the lives of two pioneering free spirits who were feminists long before the word existed.
 

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After the death of their father, a Roman aristocrat, Marie and Hortense Mancini were brought to the French court by their maternal uncle Cardinal Mazarin, Louis XIV’s ruthless prime minister, to marry advantageously. Spirited and independent-minded, their escapades eventually became fodder for news gazettes, and they were among the first women to openly publish their memoirs. A besotted young Sun King wanted to marry Marie, but Mazarin planned a Spanish alliance for Louis, so Marie was married to an Italian prince. Despite a glittering public life, Marie fled a husband she feared was going to kill her, leaving three young sons and her marital disputes became an international scandal. Cardinal Mazarin rejected exiled Charles II’s marriage proposal to Hortense. She too, married to a fanatically devout and possessive French nobleman, ran away from her spouse, leaving four young children behind. Hortense eventually went to England, becoming Charles’s mistress, establishing a salon, and becoming a famous gambler. Despite a misleading title—Boston University French professor Goldsmith doesn’t offer evidence to disprove other historians’ contention that Marie never became Louis XIV’s mistress—this is an atmospheric, absorbing tale of 17th-century female media stars taking charge of their own lives. Map. Agent, Erika Storella, Gernert Company. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Kirkus Reviews
"The story of the 17th-century version of the Kardashian sisters, but with the added touch of brains, literacy and class…. [T]he story moves along at a swift pace…. [F]ascinating."

Dr. Amanda Foreman, FRSA, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire“A fascinating account of two genuine rebels—seventeenth century sisters who fought for the sisterhood, and throughout their extraordinary adventures always gave as good as they got. The Kings’ Mistresses succeeds in being both entertaining and highly instructive." Susan Holloway Scott, author of The Countess & the King"At last two of history's most fascinating sisters have the book they deserve. Rich with period detail and thoughtful research, this is biography at its very best: the intertwined story of two women who refused to be ruled by either husbands or kings, and dared instead to create their own destiny." Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs“The bigger scandal in this fascinating double biography is not the bold behavior of its aristocratic heroines, whose colorful lives a novelist would envy—but the shocking treatment they endured at the hands of the powerful men who sought to punish them for seeking their independence. The lengths they went to bring the Mancini sisters to heel will leave readers shocked, wishing they could turn back the hands of time to champion these courageous survivors themselves.” Barbara Diefendorf, Professor of History, Boston University, author of Beneath The Cross“The Mancini sisters demanded a freedom that law and custom denied their sex. Goldsmith shows the high price both women paid for this freedom, while celebrating the liberated spirit with which they pursued it. The book is a page-turner; it is also good history.”

Publishers Weekly
"[A]n atmospheric, absorbing tale of 17th-century female media stars taking charge of their own lives."

Booklist
"This ribald tale works all the better because it is true…. Culling their correspondence and memoirs, Goldsmith is able to paint a vivid portrait of two remarkably daring free spirits who paved the way for centuries of women stifled and exploited by both men and societal constraints…. Revolutionary, cutting-edge, and inspiring, their lives are worthy of revisiting."

Library Journal"Goldsmith presents the sisters as pioneers who embraced notoriety by publishing accounts of their unconventional lives. Their prominence during the emergence of print journalism prompted debates on women’s rights, marriage, and property laws….[A] spirited account that humanizes the experiences of 17th-century women.”
Women’s Review of Books
“With The Kings’ Mistresses, Elizabeth Goldsmith has achieved the feat of producing a Work that will both satisfy the general reader and provide a resource for those who wish to understand more deeply the complicated sexual politics of the seventeenth century.”

Library Journal
This dual biography relates the interesting but little-known saga of the Mancini sisters, nieces of Cardinal Mazarin, giant of French statecraft. Born in Italy but summoned to the French court as children, Marie and Hortense defied the strictures that bound women's lives then. Goldsmith (French, Boston Univ.) uses letters, memoirs, family papers, and other archival sources to share the story of two women who were "feminists" long before the word existed. Trapped in loveless marriages arranged for political purposes, they became celebrities but also targets of scorn and ridicule because of their public legal battles with their husbands as well as their travels and love affairs. In her youth, Marie had a fairy-tale romance with the young Louis XIV, while Hortense became mistress to England's Charles II (hence the book's title). Goldsmith presents the sisters as pioneers who embraced notoriety by publishing accounts of their unconventional lives. Their prominence during the emergence of print journalism prompted debates on women's rights, marriage, and property laws. Goldsmith interweaves their stories with those of other women of the period. VERDICT General readers of historical biography and scholars of women's history will enjoy this spirited account that humanizes the experiences of 17th-century women.—Marie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ
Kirkus Reviews
The story of the 17th-century version of the Kardashian sisters, but with the added touch of brains, literacy and class. Marie and Hortense Mancini were rebellious sisters who married well, fled their abusive husbands and spent the rest of their lives on the run, together or separately, soaking up the good life and turning their lives into international gossip. For Goldsmith (French/Boston Univ.; Going Public: Women and Publishing in Early Modern France, 1995, etc.) they were "arguably the first media celebrities," and they received a suitably mixed reception: "admired by libertines, feminists and free-thinkers but viewed by others as frivolous at best and threats to civil society at worst." Born to the Roman aristocracy, they were taken to France by their uncle, Cardinal Mazarin, a savvy political operator with an eye to his own future, who hoped to marry them off. The elder Marie caught the fancy of Louis XIV, but his mother Queen Anne wouldn't have it; Marie had to settle instead for the Italian price Lorenzo Colonna, who wasn't about to let marriage keep him from other women. The younger Hortense drew the attention of England's Charles II, then in exile. However, she ended up with Armand-Charles de la Porte de la Meilleraye, a bullying religious fanatic twice her age; the arrangement made her "the richest heiress and the unhappiest woman in Christendom." After their escapes from their unhappy marriages, the sisters played an elaborate cat-and-mouse game across Europe as their incensed husbands appealed to the authorities, dispatched spies, made threats and attempted kidnappings. The sisters dodged their husbands, indulged their whims and wrote celebrity tell-alls, possibly another first. Though the narrative could have used a lighter authorial touch, the story moves along at a swift pace. Goldsmith's reserved, professional prose works against the rollicking nature of the tale, but the fascinating subjects make up for it.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586488895
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,000,541
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth C. Goldsmith is a professor of French at Boston University. She has written books on literature in the age of Louis XIV, focusing on letter correspondences and women’s writing. She teaches courses on seventeenth-century theater and the novel, travel writing, and historical fiction.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    In the 17th-century, sisters Marie and Hortense Mancini married

    In the 17th-century, sisters Marie and Hortense Mancini married into wealth and nobility, but they soon discovered themselves desperately unhappy with their abusive husbands. Divorce at the time, was available, but extremely difficult, if not impossible, to acquire and fraught with scandal. Left with little choice, the two women fled, at times in each other’s company, and other times alone. From Italy, France, and England, the women travelled and lived the high life, visiting and finding refuge in some of Europe’s most elite families. They found love in the arms of kings. They indulged themselves in love affairs, gambling, hunting, and art collecting, much to the gossiping delight of the world that could not help but be fascinating with the wild freedom of these two women.

    But as they moved from home to home, or castle to castle, their husbands tracked them, thrusting impediments and threats in their path, forcing them into convents or withdrawing all money, or entering into negotiations to force them into submission. Somehow, they managed to dodge the courts and their husband’s attempts to squash their seized independence.

    The author did an impeccable job of researching and tracking the travels of these two fascinating women. The book takes us on a journey with them from country to country, court to court, and home to home. However, it is quite academic in nature and brushes too briefly over their actual escapades. What I mean by that, is I got a wonderful picture of their actual travels, but very little about what truly made them notorious, where they flaunted societal standards, and why the world was so enchanted by their mischief. Nevertheless, this was a fabulous book that takes the reader into the courts of kings for a first hand glimpse of the world in 17th century Europe.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)