The Lady Queen

The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and SicilyThe Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily by Nancy Goldstone

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fascinating subject with enough drama for a soap opera, but it just didn’t come alive for me. Perhaps because of the lack of primary sources, the book gets bogged down by too many mundane details. Who cares that they left one city on a specific date and arrive somewhere else four days later on a specific date. Still, this Lady is begging to be better known. Her life and times were harrowing and tragic, with violent husbands, feuding families, a papal schism, the plague decimating all of Europe, and the “free companies” marauding and pillaging the countryside. And yet she maintained her sanity, held her own against all the plotting and conniving, built churches and hospitals, sponsored the writer Petrarch at her court, reduced crime, and was an ardent promoter of peace.

Description: In 1348, at the age of twenty-two, Joanna I, the queen of Naples, stood trial before the pope, accused of murdering her cousin and husband, Hungarian prince Andrew. Arguing her own case in Latin, she won her acquittal, and went on to become the only female monarch in her time to rule in her own name; she presided over one of Europe’s most prestigious and influential courts for more than thirty years—until she herself was murdered. For the first time, Nancy Goldstone tells the full story of one of the most courageous and accomplished women in history, painting a captivating portrait of medieval royalty in all its splendid complexity.