Francis I of France was the personification of the Renaissance, and a highly influential patron of the arts and education. Henry VIII, who was not expected to inherit the throne but embraced the role with gusto, broke with the Roman Catholic Church and appointed himself head of the Church of England. Charles V was the most powerful industrious man of the time, and was unanimously elected Holy Roman Emperor. Suleiman the Magnificent--who stood apart as a Muslim--brought the Ottoman Empire to its apogee of political, military, and economic power.
Against the vibrant background of the Renaissance, these four men collectively shaped the culture, religion, and politics of their respective domains. With remarkable erudition, John Julius Norwich delves into this entertaining and layered history, indelibly depicting four dynamic characters and how their incredible achievements--and obsessions with one another--changed European history.
- ISBN-13: 9780802126634
- ISBN-10: 0802126634
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
- Publish Date: April 2017
- Page Count: 304
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2017-01-09
- Reviewer: Staff
Norwich (Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History), a British popular historian descended from royalty, regales readers with tales of the exploits, speculations on the psyches, and anecdotes from the eventful lives of the titles four rulers. The quartet of the title, who were born within a decade of one another and ruled contemporaneously during the first half of the 16th century, were larger-than-life leaders who collectively created the political geography of their era. Each leader came to see his crown as a crushing burden and agonized over his succession; Henry VIII famously changed the course of history in his quest for an heir, but even Holy Roman Emperor Charles V for decades longed for the freedom to abdicate, and would have, except that Charless only legitimate son had been something of a disappointment. The tales are frequently punctuated by what today might be called the rulers failures of cultural sensitivity, and though entertaining, the book has a disconcertingly indifferent attitude toward accuracy. Those able to overlook faults in terminology and interpretation will be rewarded with tales of the rivalries and tortured friendships of the four rulers. Agent: Felicity Bryan, Felicity Bryan Associates (U.K.). (Apr.)