Wednesday 19 June 2013


Why is it that highly intelligent, accomplished, able women are viewed with suspicion by men (and other women) and get such a bad press?

ISABELLA of Spain – researched when writing Prisoner of the Inquisition

Isabella conquering Granada
Brought up by mentally disturbed mother. Prominent supporters of her family’s rightful claim to the throne of Castile switched sides (sometimes several times) Brother died. She had to take control. Marriage brokered with Ferdinand of Aragon who thought he’d then be King of Castile and Aragon and take control of both - but Isabella wouldn’t let him and had herself crowned Queen of Castile.
Turned the government from one of venal corruption unto one that allowed the people to prosper and live under a rule of law Was clever and had the foresight to back Columbus when others turned him down
OK -  so people who disagreed with her views tended to be deal with in very disagreeable manner, but that was the custom of the time, and if she hadn’t, well…..   

CATHERINE de’ MEDICI, Queen of France – researched when writing The Nostradamus Prophecy

Catherine de' Medici consulting her Magic Mirror
“Sold” as a bride to the son of the King of France and fell in love with him but was humiliated for many years by him openly consorting with his mistress and showering honours upon her when he became King. Was about to put aside as barren when suddenly had lots of children - rumour was that his mistress had to insist that he slept with his wife to produce an heir and safeguard the throne.  How awful was that for poor Catherine?  However her time came. King dies. Catherine at once takes back the beautiful Chateau the King had given his mistress and the jewels etc, etc. Beset on all side by ruthless men with her children too small to rule, she fought her whole life to keep the throne safe for them to inherit. Was said to have started the (Note: very successful and lucrative) French perfume industry… in addition to perfume wa 
s supposed to have imported the art of making poison too…
But if the armed guard supposed to be protecting you and yours is in the pay of your worst enemy what’s a girl supposed to do? 

CATERINA Sforza & LUCREZIA Borgia - researched when writing The Medici Seal

Husband murdered and left to defend her city and people against greedy would be conquerors. Is captured with her children and negotiates a deal whereby she is released to go into the last of her fortresses holding out against the enemy to persuade them to surrender. When she gets there she encourages her Captain and his soldiers not to give up, stands on the battlements and shouts down at her enemies, telling them all the tortures and deaths she will inflict upon them. They threaten to kill her children. The Bold Caterina’s response is to hoik up her skirts, point to her private parts and say “ Do you worst. I have the means to make more!”
Obviously Caterina was astute enough to work out that as soon as her enemies took her last fortress they would murder her and her children so she cunningly secured her freedom so that she could lead her armed men who were inspired by her courage and thus gave her children their best chance of survival. They all did.
That amount of nerve leaves you gasping but, hey, way to go, Caterina!

Film Poster for Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia. 
Famous (infamous?) Born daughter of a man who became Pope she had riches in plenty but very little control over her life as her father and her ruthless brother used her as a pawn in the strategies to acquire power and money. Husband she loved was murdered by her brother, Cesare, when he was no longer useful for his ambitions. Sent to marry the Duke of Ferrara who didn’t really care for her but she won his respect by her courage in defending her adopted city against their enemies and her diplomatic skill. When he was away he left the government in her hands. In addition to being a wise leader she also encouraged the Arts, especially poetry

… possibly personally very encouraging to one poet in particular, but a girl has to have a diversion or two when all that war business is going on.

These were game gals – what’s not to admire about them?

The Traveller  (from dyslexia friendly publisher Barrington Stoke)
Divided City   Playscript now available.


Joan Lennon said...

The ENERGY! Not to mention all the other qualities -

(Good thing Caterina lived when she did - the skirt hoiking wouldn't have been nearly so impressive if she'd been wearing big pants!)

Thanks for these amazing vignettes.

Theresa Breslin said...

From what I've read about Caterina, Joan, she was probably knickerless!