Duprat was chancellor of the treasury of the realm when Francis I was king. Virtually, he was the man behind the throne, though at times Francis' foibles and fancies brought multiple problems upon his head. This is really Duprat's story, although a fictional romance is woven against the background of a France, tool in Duprat's hands, threatened by enemies without and within. Schoonover is sometimes betrayed by his extensive material into darting in all directions, overembroidering his theme. His characters suffer and emerge two dimensional, except for his central figure. Lovely Marie, daughter of the duchess Agathe, of Montholon, was being bartered in marriage to young Henri de Tonnerre, whom she had never seen. Henri, meantime, on a mission for the king (to bring the Mona Lisa to France) falls into a liaison with an Italian girl, from which Duprat has to rescue him. And this in turn sets up a chain reaction, all of which plays itself out against the greater issues of the defection of the Duc de Bourbon, the claims of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the rumblings of the Reformation, and Francis' own inadequacies. Duprat alone emerges a fully realized figure; he alone saves France for posterity.