In an epic drama of love, death, and betrayal, Leonie Frieda charts the rise and fall of the Italian Renaissance through the lives of the princesses who helped shape it.
Mothers of popes and wives of princes, the women who feature in The Deadly Sisterhood were joined by birth, marriage, or friendship, and all ruled for a time in the place of their dead or absent menfolk. An intricate network of blood ties bound them together even as passion, treachery, and greed set sister against sister. These were women who were not afraid to wield the sword against their enemies in the murderous struggles that dominated the Italian Peninsula in the fifteenth century. Each experienced great riches, power, and the warm smile of fortune, but each also knew banishment, imprisonment, poverty, attempts on her life, and the loss of a husband or child.
Leonie Frieda brilliantly reassesses the reputations of celebrated figures such as Isabella d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia, while exposing the influence of neglected characters such as Isabella d'Aragona and Clarice Orsini on the brutal dynastic conflicts of the fifteenth century.
From sleeping with the enemy to leading troops into battle, The Deadly Sisterhood explodes the myth that Renaissance women were passive bystanders. Far from being confined to patronage and piety, these women proved that as rulers, politicians, warriors, and lovers they equalled—if not overshadowed—the men whose power they shared.