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Hardcover Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope Book

ISBN: 0061245550

ISBN13: 9780061245558

Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

For a decade in the seventeenth century a woman ran the Catholic Church, through her brother-in-law and reputed lover, Pope Innocent X. Cardinals bowed down to her and princes feted her as she made... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Mistress of the Vatican

Remarkable book of how the popes in 1450's lived. There was so much killing and families only from the popes relatives to be made popes or cardinals. A woman giving a pope advice and ruling the Vatican is uncalled for, but it did happen and was covered for centuries. Very interesting for Vatican sins and how horrible ot how people of power were left to die and to rot without a stitch of clothes left to cover them.

A woman of power

Olimpia Maidalchini was one of those rare people who would have stood out no matter what century she was born into. She had guts, ruthlessness and a sharp brain. So it only made her more striking -- and more reviled -- that she was born in an age when women were rarely in charge of their own destinies. And in "Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini, The Secret Female Pope," Eleanor Herman paints a vivid, rich often funny portrait of Olimpia's rise to prominent in the rapidly changing world of seventeenth-century Europe. Olimpia's life was thrown into turmoil when her father tried to force her into a nunnery, so he wouldn't have to pay for a dowry. But she quickly lashed back, bringing disgrace both to her dad and to the priest who also tried to convince her. Not that the resulting scandal kept her from marrying twice, first to the wealthiest boy in her town and then to a stuffy nobleman. But her brother-in-law Gianbattista is who really captured Olimpia's interest, since he appreciated her intellect and abilities. Her advice and influence were used to make him an envoy, a cardinal -- and finally getting him elected to the papal throne. But Olimpia soon discovered that getting Gianbattista (now called Pope Innocent X) into the papacy was only the beginnings of their troubles. Younger rivals, a wastrel papal nephew, heretics, famine and a war with France's Cardinal Mazarin all came to trouble the woman who practically ran the Vatican -- especially when Innocent X started developing a mind of his own. Eleanor Herman has explored the lives of a lot of noblemen, noblewomen, kings and queens throughout "Sex With Kings" and "Sex With the Queen." "Mistress of the Vatican" is a very different book in some ways -- it charts only one woman's life, from her humble beginnings in a small town to a position of power behind the papal throne, and over political dealings and machinations that spanned Europe. But as with her prior work, Herman's writing manages to be both breezy and detailed. Her tone is that of a friendly teacher livening up a lecture with funny stories of Olimpia's -- such as an irascible duke bursting into the papal bedroom to rave at a presumably sleeping pope about his annoying nephew. But she also fills the pages with the fragrances, sounds and sights of post-Renaissance Rome -- elegant palaces and villas filled with exquisite art, dim mildewed churches, and the horrendously hot and sticky conclave. And as important as Olimpia's own story are the stories that surround her. Herman gives detailed background information on everybody of import that Olimpia encountered -- political rivals the Barberinis, glitzy artists, her rotund and grasping son-in-law -- and interweaves the story with background on rituals, customs (such as ransacking the house of a new pope), and half-forgotten disasters of the day. But Olimpia herself is the beating heart of this book. She could be pretty nasty at times -- she was vengeful, gra

Fascinating read!!

This was a fascinating read. I had never heard about Olimpia Maidalchini before, and the amount of historical data available was impressive. The story was amusing and interesting, and the pace moved along quickly. I had a tough time putting it down. Like with the Da Vinci Code, I look forward to returning to Rome to view the sights mentioned in the book, to see where this truly amazing woman reigned. The pictures contained in the book were a real plus too! Enjoy!

A fascinating and absorbing read

_Mistress of the Vatican_ is a great read, even if you aren't a history buff or an expert of 17th century Italian culture. Herman wields her pen with almost magical effect, presenting the life and times of Olimpia Maidalchini in vivid color, packaging her extensive research in a delicious candy coating. Olimpia's story, who Herman describes as an Italian Scarlett O'Hara, is timeless tale of a strong and intelligent woman seeking to get ahead in a male-dominated world, thumbing her nose at naysayers and poking her finger in the eye of Vatican traditions all along the way. In a year that the United States has witnessed one, and now two, women take aim at the highest offices of the nation, _Mistress_ offers an interesting counterbalance. While Olimpia is the focus of the story, Herman painstakingly details the world in which she lived - the traditions, the culture, the clothing and architecture of old Italy. It is also a glimpse into the highs and lows of Italian society during Olimpia's day - ranging from the lush lives of the rich to the deprivations of the poor. Moreover, Herman tells a tale full of greed, lust, theft, humor, and treachery, all taking place within the sphere of the Vatican elite. _Mistress_ is a guilt-free guilty pleasure and Herman proves that good history can be very fun.
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