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        In 1990 during a visit to the beautifully preserved Renaissance city of Krakow, Jeffrey R. Prince stumbled across the portraits by Lucas Cranach the Younger of the last Jagiellonian kings and queens, the dynasty that ruled Poland and Lithuania at the same time as the Tudors, Valois and Habsburgs reigned in Western Europe. Although he had studied Renaissance literature and history extensively in connection with teaching Shakespeare and Elizabethan poetry, here was something new, exotic, often surprising, yet immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the Renaissance in England, France or Italy.

        At the Library of Congress near his home and during repeated visits to Central Europe, Jeff delved into to what he calls the Jagiellonian matter. The dynasty produced a succession of extraordinary psyches reshaped or misshaped by currents of Renaissance thought and forced to engage with the political realities of the age. Inspired in part by Hilary Mantel’s Woolf Hall and the broad popularity in the U.S. of Tudor novels by lesser talents, he focused on the most intriguing and touching episode in the dynastic saga and decided to present it to the American audience in novel form. He completed a final draft of In the Matter of the King’s Marriage in 2020.


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