Birth of the Chess Queen: A History by Marilyn Yalom

By Marilyn Yalom

We all know that the queen is the main dominant piece in chess, yet few humans comprehend that the sport existed for 5 hundred years with no her. It wasn't till chess grew to become a favored hobby for eu royals throughout the center a long time that the queen was once born and was once steadily empowered to turn into the king's fierce warrior and protector.Birth of the Chess Queen examines the 5 centuries among the chess queen's timid emergence within the early days of the Holy Roman Empire to her elevation through the reign of Isabel of Castile. Marilyn Yalom, encouraged by way of a handful of surviving medieval chess queens, lines their foundation and unfold from Spain, Italy, and Germany to France, England, Scandinavia, and Russia. In a full of life and interesting old research, Yalom attracts parallels among the increase of the chess queen and the ascent of girl sovereigns in Europe, proposing a layered, interesting background of medieval courts and inner struggles for strength.

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Harûn’s lavish gifts to those who won his favor have become legendary. Hundreds of gold pieces, prized slave girls, silk robes, and even thoroughbred horses were offered by Harûn or his beloved wife, Zubaidah, to lucky members of their entourage. A poet producing verses that touched Harûn’s heart or a chess player unfolding a remarkable combination might become the recipient of a fabulous reward. One of the stories in The Arabian Nights tells how Harûn paid ten thousand dinars for a slave girl known to be a fine chess player.

The two queens belong to a collection of Italian-made chessmen that are housed in the Cabinet of Coins, Medals, and Antiquities at the French National Library. The accompanying kings wear beards and crowns, carry scepters, and, like the queens, are placed inside pavilions with attendants on each side. The single surviving pawn, which is truly a picturesque marvel, has been decisive in dating all the pieces. On the basis of his almond-shaped shield and helmet with a nose guard, the likes of which were worn by Norman foot soldiers circa 1075–1100, art historians have debunked the long-standing belief that the collection was originally owned by Charlemagne (742–814).

In November, exhausted by late childbirth, marital strife, extensive travel, and political upheaval, she died at the age of forty-four and was interred in the Cathedral of Palermo next to her husband and her father. Her son, Frederick, went on to become not only king of Sicily but also Holy Roman Emperor, king of Jerusalem, a sometime enemy of the papacy (which twice excommunicated him), an efficient administrator with new laws codified under his direction, an Italian poet in the troubadour tradition, the author of a Latin treatise on falconry, a patron of the arts and sciences, and an outstanding chess player.

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