Mistress of the Vatican

Mistress of the Vatican

The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope

By Eleanor Herman

Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061245565, 452pp.

Publication Date: September 2009


Born without a dowry, nearly forced into a convent, and later married off to a man she didn't love, Olimpia Maidalchini vowed never to be poor, powerless, or beholden to any man again. Instead, using her wits, Olimpia became the unofficial ruler of the most powerful institution in the world: the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church firmly states that women must be excluded from church leadership positions but for more than a decade in the seventeenth century, Olimpia ran the Vatican. As sister-in-law and reputed mistress of the indecisive Pope Innocent X, she appointed cardinals, negotiated with foreign ambassadors, and helped herself to a heaping portion of the Papal States' treasury.

In Mistress of the Vatican, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman brings to life not only an extraordinary woman lost in history but an entire civilization in all its greatness . . . and ignominy. This is the unforgettable story of a woman ahead of her time.

About the Author
Eleanor Herman is the New York Times Bestselling author of Sex with Kings, as well as three other works of nonfiction: Sex with the Queen, Mistress of the Vatican, and King Peggy. Obsessed by all things royal and historical, she lives in McLean, Virginia with her husband and four extremely dignified cats. Legacy is her first novel.

Praise For Mistress of the Vatican

“...immensely readable and compelling...An expert on—and descendant of—European royal families, she skillfully uses letters, diaries, newssheets of the time, and biographies to tell this personal tale, set during unforgiving times. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.”
-Kirkus Reviews