Sex With The Queen: 900 Years Of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, And Passionate Politics – Eleanor Herman
In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness?
Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded. Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites. Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue her from the guillotine. Princess Diana gave up her palace bodyguard to enjoy countless love affairs, which tragically led to her early death.
Review: This book does exactly what it says on the cover. The author chronicles 900 years of queenly affairs and marriages gone horribly wrong. The book mostly focuses on European royalty. It may also make you rethink your childhood desire to become a princess . . .
“When Marguerite caught malaria, she claimed the royal family of Tuscany was trying to murder her, but that she would, in fact, rather die than return to her husband. Louis XIV asked the pope to threaten excommunication if Marguerite persisted, and the pontiff sent her a harsh letter. She didn't fear hell, she replied. She was already living in it.” – Sex with the Queen
Earlier this year, I read Sex with Kings, which is the companion to this book. As soon as I finished Sex with Kings, I knew I needed to get my hands on this one. Eleanor Herman has an engaging writing style that puts a trashy tabloid spin on history. Sex with the Queen is not a dry textbook. It’s funny, scandalous, and very readable.
Sex with the Queen doesn’t have the same flaws as Sex with Kings. I was happy for that because I often got confused by the structure of Sex with Kings. In the queen book, each queen gets her own section, so the stories are linear and easy to follow. I wasn’t constantly flipping back through the pages to remind myself who was who like I did in Sex with Kings.
I don’t know much about history, so I can’t tell you how accurate the information in this book is. I can tell you that it’s probably not a useful book for academic research. Eleanor Herman is not impartial. She villainizes some historical figures and makes jokes about others. This book is fun, but I get the feeling that accuracy is sometimes sacrificed to entertainment.
“Yet she (Princess Diana) suffered one ancient lament of many princess brides—her husband didn't love her, hadn't wanted to marry her, rarely slept with her, and far preferred his mistress.” – Sex with the Queen
Still, I’ll probably read whatever nonfiction history book Eleanor Herman writes next.
Fun Facts About Sex With Queens
1. Kings could have as many affairs as they wanted, but queens were expected to be monogamous. This was because the king was basically marrying a uterus, not a person. The queen’s job was to have the king’s children. Since monarchies are usually based on heredity, everyone had to be sure that the king’s kids really belonged to the king.
2. Queens were rarely left alone. A group of servants followed the queen wherever she went. Part of the servants’ job was to make sure the queen didn’t have affairs. Despite being followed everywhere by the sex police, many queens still managed to have affairs.
3. Getting the queen pregnant wasn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Some kings were secretly (or not-so-secretly) gay. Some royal couples hated each other so much that they refused to have sex. Other kings and queens were infertile, deformed, or sickly from generations of royal inbreeding. Getting pregnant and staying pregnant wasn’t always possible.
4. Kings who couldn’t get their wives pregnant had to be creative to produce an heir. Some kings encouraged their wives to have secret affairs. One king tried to impregnate his wife by using a golden turkey baster. It didn’t work.
5. Marriages between future kings and queens were arranged by their parents. Some young royals were too immature to understand the whole sex thing. One young couple spent their wedding night sitting in bed together, playing with toy soldiers.
6. Affairs are still common with modern royalty. Some royal families fiercely protect their DNA. They don’t want anyone taking it, analyzing it, and discovering that some members of the royal family aren’t “royal” at all.