Renée of France
by Simonetta Carr
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Evangelical Press
Released: January 8, 2013
Source: Review copy provided by Cross Focused Reviews.
Book Description from Amazon:
Renée of France is little known today, but this fascinating and often controversial woman was a correspondent of Calvin. She loved the Reformation, but in sixteenth century Italy such a position could not be lightly held. Add in a husband (the Duke of Ferrara) who served the pope and was determined to oppose Renée, plus the complexity and intrigues of Italian society of the time, and you have all the ingredients for a gripping biography.
Renée of France is a biography about a noblewoman, Renée of France (1510-1575). She was a princess of France who was married to a duke of Italy, and she lived during the Protestant Reformation. She wrote to and received letters from John Calvin about some of the questions of faith that she was dealing with.
Renée used her wealth and influence to provide a refuge to Protestants while she was in Italy and, after she returned to France, during the French Wars of Religion. Still, some Protestants were concerned that she didn't seem to hold strong in her faith. She would sometimes make compromises in order to keep her lands and her freedom to act. She dealt with issues like: Is it okay to believe in private rather than make a stand in public? How much influence should a patron have over the church that they protect? Should we hate someone who persecutes members of our faith?
The biography mostly covered Renée's adult life and discussed the theological issues that Renée struggled with related to the Reformation. The book contained many quotes from John Calvin's letters to Renée.
Due to the "bitesized biographies" series title, I assumed this book was targeted at teenagers, but it's written with a scholarly tone and targeted at adults. This book is one good way for someone who knows little about the Reformation to learn about some of the theological and political issues involved. It's also an interesting look at a noblewoman caught between several strong, opposing forces and how she dealt with it.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Link to a podcast interview with the author.