Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe



John Julius Norwich--"the very model of a popular historian" (Wall Street Journal)--is acclaimed for his distinctive ability to weave together a fascinating narrative through vivid detail, colorful anecdotes, and captivating characters. Here, he has crafted a bold tapestry of Europe and the Middle East in the early sixteenth century, when four legendary rulers towered over the era.

Francis I of France was the personification of the Renaissance, and a highly influential patron of the arts and education. Henry VIII, who was not expected to inherit the throne but embraced the role with gusto, broke with the Roman Catholic Church and appointed himself head of the Church of England. Charles V was the most powerful industrious man of the time, and was unanimously elected Holy Roman Emperor. Suleiman the Magnificent--who stood apart as a Muslim--brought the Ottoman Empire to its apogee of political, military, and economic power.

Against the vibrant background of the Renaissance, these four men collectively shaped the culture, religion, and politics of their respective domains. With remarkable erudition, John Julius Norwich delves into this entertaining and layered history, indelibly depicting four dynamic characters and how their incredible achievements--and obsessions with one another--changed European history.

Product Details

$27.00  $24.84
Atlantic Monthly Press
Publish Date
April 11, 2017
6.1 X 1.2 X 9.1 inches | 1.15 pounds
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About the Author

John Julius Norwich is the author of many publications, including A History of Venice and Byzantium, as well as the New York Times bestseller Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy and most recently, Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History.



"In prolific historian Norwich's well-articulated appraisal, these four giant figures can, and should be, perceived as a 'single phenomenon' that deeply imprinted sixteenth-century Europe. Through Norwich's perceptive eyes, we see that the four monarchs certainly did not exist in a vacuum, that each one was not a completely separate entity . . . A superb group portrait." --Booklist

"Norwich's long career as a historian has given him a definite assurance of style, which allows him to present historical detail in a thoroughly engaging manner without sacrificing clarity. An entertaining history covering the highlights of four of the most significant rulers of the 16th century." --Library Journal

"A fascinating quadruple biography of four of the greatest monarchs of the Renaissance by this true master of narrative history." --Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs and Jerusalem: The Biography

"As we have come to expect from John Julius Norwich, Four Princes is filled with surprising details about these familiar figures, as well as revealing insights into the seminal events of this rich period. But the great value of the book is putting Suleiman the Magnificent on an equal plain with Henry VIII, Francis I, and Charles V, and thereby, providing an expanded view of Europe during this turbulent era, a better understanding of the clashes between their empires, and the personal aspirations and foibles of these giants that shaped the continent's history." --James Reston, Jr., author of Defenders of the Faith: Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent, and the Battle for Europe, 1520-1536

"With characteristic deftness of touch, Norwich brings each character vividly to life and skillfully weaves their stories together . . . a genuinely inspired idea for a book, and Norwich executes it with typical aplomb." --Tracy Borman, BBC History Magazine

"Wonderful . . . This was indeed a glorious age and Norwich has made a brilliant decision to study four idiosyncratic rulers as an interacting quartet . . . A lively and charming book." --Times (UK)