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|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)|
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
Excerpted from Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman
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