• Renaissance

    Boleyn series coming to the US via PBS

    I’m taking a short break from France to say that I just heard on Twitter that the three- part series The Boleyns: A Scandalous History is coming to the US in August 2022. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that it’s going to air on PBS. I mean, it’s the best place in the US to hear a British accent. It’s not like BBCAmerica is going to pick up anything cultural from the UK,

  • Books,  Medici

    Examining the strange marriage of Marie de Medici

    Marie de Medici might not receive the same amount of attention as her cousin Catherine from historians, but she deserves her own turn in the spotlight. I wish that modern historians would spend more time on her, but she’s fallen out of favor in academic circles since the Nineteenth Century. Speaking of the Nineteenth Century, few female writers have written more about the French Renaissance court than Martha Walker Freer. I’m not going to lie, in graduate school, they taught us to take Nineteenth-Century histories with a grain of salt because many of them were written without bothering to use any primary documents whatsoever. Still, I have a lot of…

  • 1500s,  Mistress,  Renaissance

    Further reading about Henry IV of France and his numerous mistresses

    I’ve had an incredible time researching and writing the French Mistresses series.  Henry IV had so many of them that it was almost hard to narrow down which ones to write about and which ones to relegate to supporting roles.  There’s so much more to learn about them that I could hardly put it all into three novels, so I’ve compiled a list of resources for you to check out for yourself. Free books on Henry IV and his mistresses: You can’t really escape from Margot’s side of the story.  There’s still debate over whether Margot Valois actually wrote her memoirs or if her supporters did, since it was published…

  • Fashion

    Valentino reaches back to the Renaissance

    Who hasn’t fantasized about wearing a Renaissance-era power suit? I certainly have, but if you’re an haute couture line, you can put your fantasies into production and show them to the world. In 2016, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri presented her last collection for Dior, and it gave a nod to the Sixteenth- Century dress styles, but this time she focused on styles typically worn by men of the era. Vouge has the entire collection if you want to see the full looks, but you will have to sign up via e-mail to read the article. Or, you can view the slideshow here at Fashionista without having to register. Women’s Wear…

  • Movies

    Discovering the French Renaissance through older films

    If you’re looking for older films about the French Renaissance, it’s hit or miss outside of streaming services like Netflix. You can check out YouTube, but sometimes there’s a murky question over whether the channel has the right to post a film or not. I’ve found a few gems, in French with no English subtitles on YouTube. My absolute favorite is The War of Three Henries. The movie isn’t going to win any awards for historical accuracy, but the great draw is the fact that it was filmed on location at Chateau de Blois. Full disclosure: Blois is my favorite chateau, and anything that’s filmed there has my stamp of…

  • Fashion

    The origin of the codpiece. Because you never wanted to know

    Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a costumer. I can’t sew, period. I have never been a member of SCA, nor do I claim to have ever been one. Renaissance clothing is set dressing to me, as much as any other aspect of 16th-century life. That being said, apparently, the codpiece was more than an afterthought when it came to dressing 16th century and early 17th century men. The idea of a removable item of clothing covering the penis didn’t start during the Renaissance. By the 1530s, however, they were the height of fashion. In case of an emergency, it is easier to be able to quickly remove…

  • art,  Behind the scenes

    Christmas projects and wild dreams

    Since it’s my birthday, I’m going to just post on something fun. I’m exercising that prerogative. I’ve been working on hand-painted watercolor Christmas cards this fall. I started in early September, in between working and basically trying to stay Delta Variant free. By my count, I needed about fifty of them, and I ended up doing about fifty-five of them by the time I was done. The biggest obstacle for me was the handwriting part. My handwriting stinks, and with ADD/ ADHD, I can’t get my hand to move as quickly as my thoughts ping around in my mind. I’m faster at typing, but there’s still a lot of information…

  • Books

    Reading the French Renaissance: Game of Queens, a book review

    Of all the books I picked up during my last trip to France, this was the only one I started reading immediately on the bus. As we rolled across the Loire Valley, I wanted to get as much information into my head before we got to another chateau. I can still see where he hit bumps on the highway and my underlining went a little wonky. Obviously, Sarah Gristwood’s book title is a take on Game of Thrones, which I thought was pretty clever. Since I picked it up in Europe (I think at Chenonceau, but I’m not completely sure), I got the beautiful cover above. I’ve seen the alternate…

  • Marie Antoinette as a young woman

    Another new French production takes on Marie Antoinette

    The good news keeps coming for historical films set in and produced by French companies. Now Marie Antoinette is getting yet another turn at the big screen, and British Vogue has a write-up about the production. This time, Marie will be featured in an eight-episode series produced by Canal+. If the name sounds familiar, they’re the same people who produced Versailles. Vouge says that the show will feature “a feminist take” on Marie, which will be a departure from the gleefully shallow spendthrift in the Sophia Coppola film. The casting decisions are still being sorted out, but this time Marie will be played by a German actress, Emilia Schüle. We’ll…

  • Movies

    Secrets of History’s documentary about Diane de Poiters

    Following on the heels of the new Diane production, I’d be remiss not to point out the documentaries available about the woman who effectively ruled France during the reign of Henry II. Secrets of History is a great place to catch documentaries about the personalities of the French Renaissance. Diane is no exception. The audio is in French, and there are no English subtitles. Still, it’s worth a view and it’s a great place to practice your understanding of spoken French.