The Serpent and the Moon

Written by HRH Princess Michael of Kent
Review by Pat Maynard

The lives of the three individuals depicted in this book are a prime example of reality being stranger than fiction. An arranged marriage in 1533 between Prince Henri II of France and Catherine de Medici was considered little more than an “act of duty” on Henri’s part. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true for Catherine, who was immediately smitten by her handsome young husband. A couple of years following their marriage, Henri began a love affair with the beautiful Diane de Poitiers, a woman eighteen years his senior, an affair that would last for the rest of his life. As a result of this strange mix, Catherine’s secret motto became “Odiate et Aspetate,” i.e. “hate and wait” – and she would ultimately have her revenge on both Henri and his beloved mistress in spades.

Interestingly, the author herself is a distant descendant of both Catherine and Diane. In addition to much well- researched history, there are many fascinating pictures throughout the book of art works, portraits, monograms and historical sites relative to all of their lives. The author’s sympathies obviously lean toward Diane, who remained the power behind the throne during Henri’s lifetime, and to support this premise are numerous legal documents preserved from this period signed by both Henri and Diane. Numerous entwined monograms of Henri and Diane on plates, vessels, and buildings, also leave a testament of their grand passion. Highly recommended.