9780060585440

Sex With Kings: Five Hundred Years Of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, And Revenge

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780060585440

  • ISBN10:

    0060585447

  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 4/28/2010
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $59!
    Your order must be $59 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $13.99 Save up to $6.81
  • Rent Book $9.09
    Add to Cart Free Shipping

    TERM
    PRICE
    DUE

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

Summary

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.

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi
INTRODUCTION 1(12)
ONE SEX WITH THE KING 13(20)
TWO BEYOND THE BED-THE ART OF PLEASING A KING 33(22)
THREE RIVALS FOR A KING'S LOVE-THE MISTRESS AND THE QUEEN 55(26)
FOUR CUCKOLD TO THE KING-THE MISTRESS'S HUSBAND 81(22)
FIVE UNCEASING VIGILANCE-THE PRICE OF SUCCESS 103(28)
SIX LOVING PROFITABLY-THE WAGES OF SIN 131(24)
SEVEN POLITICAL POWER BETWEEN THE SHEETS 155(16)
EIGHT RED WHORES OF BABYLON-PUBLIC OPINION AND THE MISTRESS 171(12)
NINE THE FRUITS OF SIN-ROYAL BASTARDS 183(12)
TEN DEATH OF THE KING 195(16)
ELEVEN THE END OF A BRILLIANT CAREER AND BEYOND 211(26)
TWELVE MONARCHS, MISTRESSES, AND MARRIAGE 237(20)
NOTES 257(14)
BIBLIOGRAPHY 271(4)
INDEX 275

Excerpts

Sex with Kings
500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge

Chapter One

Sex With The King

When there's marriage without love,
there will be love without marriage.
-- Benjamin Franklin

We picture the royal mistress as, first and foremost,a sexual creature. She has a heaving bosom, a knowing smile,eyes sparkling with desire. Ready to fling her velvet skirts aboveher head at a moment's notice, she offers irresistible delights toa lecherous monarch. The entreaties of his anguished family,the bishop's admonitions, his own sense of royal sin and guilt,are useless against the mistress's enticements when compared tothose of the woodenly chaste queen.

Indeed, the horrifying state of most royal marriages createdthe space for royal mistresses to thrive. A prince's marriage, celebratedwith lavish ceremony, was usually nothing more than apersonal catastrophe for the two victims kneeling at the altar.The purpose of a royal marriage was not the happiness of hus-band and wife, or good sex, or even basic compatibility. Theproduction of princes was the sole purpose, and if the bridetrailed treaties and riches in her wake, so much the better.

Napoleon, franker than most monarchs, stated, "I want tomarry a womb." And indeed most royal brides were consideredto be nothing more than a walking uterus with a crown on topand skirts on the bottom.

Disaster at the Altar

Princesses were brought up from birth to be chaste almost to thepoint of frigidity, thereby ensuring legitimate heirs. Whilevirtue could be taught, beauty could not. Ambassadors, sellingthe goods sight unseen to a prospective royal husband, inflatedthe looks of the princess with hyperbolic praise, often bringing aflattering portrait as evidence.

In 1540 Henry VIII was duped by the portrait trick in hissearch for a fourth wife. He wanted to cement an alliance withFrance and wrote François I asking for suggestions. Françoisgraciously replied with the names and portraits of five nobleladies. But Henry was not satisfied. "By God," he said, studyingthe flat, unblinking faces on canvas, "I trust no one but myself.The thing touches me too near. I wish to see them and knowthem some time before deciding." He wanted to hold a kind ofroyal beauty pageant at the English-owned town of Calais on thenorth coast of France where he would personally select the winnerafter close inspection.

The French ambassador replied acidly that perhaps Henryshould sleep with all five in turn and marry the best performer.François sneeringly remarked, "It is not the custom in France tosend damsels of that rank and of such noble and princely familiesto be passed in review as if they were hackneys [whores] forsale."

Chastened, Henry returned to perusing portraits and decidedon a Protestant alliance based on a lovely likeness of Anneof Cleves. But when the royal bridegroom met Anne he wasshocked at how little resemblance there was between this hulking, pockmarked Valkyrie and the dainty, smooth-faced womanin the portrait. The king was "struck with consternation when hewas shown the Queen" and had never been "so much dismayedin his life as to see a lady so far unlike what had been represented."He roared, "I see nothing in this woman as men reportof her, and I marvel that wise men would make such report asthey have done." He continued, "Whom shall men trust? Ipromise you I see no such thing as hath been shown me of her,by pictures and report. I am ashamed that men have praised heras they have done -- and I love her not!"

Try as he might, the king could not extricate himself from themarriage to his "Flanders mare," as he dubbed Anne. The duchyof Cleves would be offended if Henry returned the goods. Twodays before the wedding, Henry grumbled, "If it were not thatshe had come so far into my realm, and the great preparationsand state that my people have made for her, and for fear of makinga ruffle in the world and of driving her brother into the armsof the Emperor and the French King, I would not now marryher. But now it is too far gone, wherefore I am sorry."

Henry went to his wedding with less grace than many of hisvictims had gone to their executions. On the way to the chapel,he opined to his counselors, "My lords, if it were not to satisfythe world and my realm, I would not do what I must do this dayfor any earthly thing."

The wedding night was a fiasco. The morning after, whenLord Thomas Cromwell, who had arranged the wedding, nervouslyasked Henry how he had enjoyed his bride, the king thundered,"Surely, my lord, I liked her before not well, but now Ilike her much worse! She is nothing fair, and have very evilsmells about her. I took her to be no maid by reason of thelooseness of her breasts and other tokens, which, when I feltthem, strake me so to the heart, that I had neither will norcourage to prove the rest. I can have none appetite for displeasantairs. I have left her as good a maid as I found her." The restof the day he told everyone who would listen that "he had foundher body disordered and indisposed to excite and provoke anylust in him."

True to the double standard of the time, no one asked Annewhat she thought of the king's appearance. Her royal bridegroomboasted a fifty-seven-inch waist and a festering ulcer onhis leg. Anne was quickly divorced and glad to depart with herhead still on her shoulders. But Lord Cromwell felt the fullforce of Henry's wrath in the form of an ax cleaving his neck ...

Sex with Kings
500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge
. Copyright © by Eleanor Herman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review