Sex with kings 500 years of adultery, power, rivalry, and revenge

Eleanor Herman, 1960-

Book - 2004

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Subjects
Published
New York : Morrow 2004.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
287 p. : ill
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9780060585440
0060585447
0060585439
Main Author
Eleanor Herman, 1960- (-)
Review by Publisher Summary 1

A five-century history of royal courtesan life offers insight into the motivations and experiences of some of Europe's most famous and influential royal mistresses, including the Marquise de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and Camilla Parker-Bowles. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A five-century history of royal courtesan life offers insight into the motivations and experiences of some of Europe's most famous and influential royal mistresses, including the Marquise de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and Camilla Parker-Bowles.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Throughout the centuries, royal mistresses have been worshiped, feared, envied, and reviled. They set the fashions, encouraged the arts, and, in some cases, ruled nations. Eleanor Herman's Sex with Kings takes us into the throne rooms and bedrooms of Europe's most powerful monarchs. Alive with flamboyant characters, outrageous humor, and stirring poignancy, this glittering tale of passion and politics chronicles five hundred years of scintillating women and the kings who loved them.

Curiously, the main function of a royal mistress was not to provide the king with sex but with companionship. Forced to marry repulsive foreign princesses, kings sought solace with women of their own choice. And what women they were! From Madame de Pompadour, the famous mistress of Louis XV, who kept her position for nineteen years despite her frigidity, to modern-day Camilla Parker-Bowles, who usurped none other than the glamorous Diana, Princess of Wales.

The successful royal mistress made herself irreplaceable. She was ready to converse gaily with him when she was tired, make love until all hours when she was ill, and cater to his every whim. Wearing a mask of beaming delight over any and all discomforts, she was never to be exhausted, complaining, or grief-stricken.

True, financial rewards for services rendered were of royal proportions -- some royal mistresses earned up to $200 million in titles, pensions, jewels, and palaces. Some kings allowed their mistresses to exercise unlimited political power. But for all its grandeur, a royal court was a scorpion's nest of insatiable greed, unquenchable lust, and vicious ambition. Hundreds of beautiful women vied to unseat the royal mistress. Many would suffer the slings and arrows of negative public opinion, some met with tragic ends and were pensioned off to make room for younger women. But the royal mistress often had the last laugh, as she lived well and richly off the fruits of her "sins."

From the dawn of time, power has been a mighty aphrodisiac. With diaries, personal letters, and diplomatic dispatches, Eleanor Herman's trailblazing research reveals the dynamics of sex and power, rivalry and revenge, at the most brilliant courts of Europe. Wickedly witty and endlessly entertaining, Sex with Kings is a chapter of women's history that has remained unwritten -- until now.