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An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy. Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy. Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her lover decapitated and the head, pickled in a jar, placed at her bedside? Royally dishing on hundreds of years of dubious behavior, Royal Babylon chronicles the manifold appalling antics of Europe's famous families, behavior that rivals the characters in an Aaron Spelling television series. Here, then, are the insane kings of Spain, one of whom liked to wear sixteen pairs of gloves at one time; the psychopathic Prussian soverigns who included Frederick William and his 102-inch waist; sex-fixated French rulers such as Philip Duke D'Oreleans cavorting with more than a hundred mistresses; and, of course, the delightfully drunken and debauched Russian czars - Czar Paul, for example, who to make his soldiers goose-step without bending their legs had steel plates strapped to their knees. But whether Romanov or Windsor, Habsburg or Hanover, these extravagant lifestyles, financed as they were by the royals' badgered subjects, bred the most wonderfully offbeat and disturbingly unbelievable tales - and Karl Shaw has collected them all in this hysterically funny and compulsively readable book. Royal Babylon is history, but not as they teach it in school, and it underlines in side-splitting fashion Queen Victoria's famous warning that it is unwise to look too deeply into the royal houses of Europe.


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An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy. Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy. Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her lover decapitated and the head, pickled in a jar, placed at her bedside? Royally dishing on hundreds of years of dubious behavior, Royal Babylon chronicles the manifold appalling antics of Europe's famous families, behavior that rivals the characters in an Aaron Spelling television series. Here, then, are the insane kings of Spain, one of whom liked to wear sixteen pairs of gloves at one time; the psychopathic Prussian soverigns who included Frederick William and his 102-inch waist; sex-fixated French rulers such as Philip Duke D'Oreleans cavorting with more than a hundred mistresses; and, of course, the delightfully drunken and debauched Russian czars - Czar Paul, for example, who to make his soldiers goose-step without bending their legs had steel plates strapped to their knees. But whether Romanov or Windsor, Habsburg or Hanover, these extravagant lifestyles, financed as they were by the royals' badgered subjects, bred the most wonderfully offbeat and disturbingly unbelievable tales - and Karl Shaw has collected them all in this hysterically funny and compulsively readable book. Royal Babylon is history, but not as they teach it in school, and it underlines in side-splitting fashion Queen Victoria's famous warning that it is unwise to look too deeply into the royal houses of Europe.

30 review for Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lynne-marie

    I went into this hoping for some good factual evicence about the aristocracy, but found only a foaming of the mouth and as much history as the average reader of European history would gather in miscellaneous readings. That the author has a grudge is so obvious it's beyond painful -- it makes the book one to miss

  2. 4 out of 5

    Isa Lavinia

    Disturbingly disrespectful and ignorant about mental illness, its myriad documented causes, and its sufferers. I was expecting salacious rumours and funny factoids, not the mocking of those with diagnosed illnesses (like porphyria) and their dismissal as "mad" but amusing. Not even bothering to mention all the factual errors about several royals.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kagama-the Literaturevixen

    I started reading this book thinking it would be an entertaining retelling of the shocking conduct of the royals. Instead what I got was a tirade against monarchy,thinly veiled as absolute fact. I can only assume that this author doesnt believe his readers know anything of history,since he continues spewing out hateful commentds The author also makes several fact errors,for example in one instance confusing a mother and daughter and in another stating a rumor as fact.The list could go on... And befo I started reading this book thinking it would be an entertaining retelling of the shocking conduct of the royals. Instead what I got was a tirade against monarchy,thinly veiled as absolute fact. I can only assume that this author doesnt believe his readers know anything of history,since he continues spewing out hateful commentds The author also makes several fact errors,for example in one instance confusing a mother and daughter and in another stating a rumor as fact.The list could go on... And before anyone asks,yes I do come from a country with a monarchy,but I dont belive they and their ancestors/other royal houses in the world are perfect. All I ask for is some objectiveness by an author writing a fact based book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Again with the lack of footnotes! If this book is to be believed, there hasn't been a sober or sane monarch in all of Europe since the Tudors. However, it's an incredibly interesting read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary Overton

    The Onion version of European royalty, except that the stories are true. History can be morbidly fun. Reading this is like watching a gruesome accident -- you are horrified but can't look away. Some highlights, from a book that is all highlights: Frederick William I of Prussia (b1688-d1740) whose hobby was collecting tall men for his Potsdam Giant Guards. "The recruits were press-ganged from his own country, or were bought or kidnapped from all over the world. The Prussian King was prepared to sp The Onion version of European royalty, except that the stories are true. History can be morbidly fun. Reading this is like watching a gruesome accident -- you are horrified but can't look away. Some highlights, from a book that is all highlights: Frederick William I of Prussia (b1688-d1740) whose hobby was collecting tall men for his Potsdam Giant Guards. "The recruits were press-ganged from his own country, or were bought or kidnapped from all over the world. The Prussian King was prepared to spend any amount of money, and go to any length, even at the risk of war, in his pursuit of tall men. His army of recruiting agents had instructions to use whatever force was necessary. A giant carpenter was once tricked into lying down in a box then found himself locked inside and shipped to Potsdam. As his captor had forgotten to drill air holes in the box, however, the carpenter was found dead on arrival. The King was furious: the agent who captured him was charged with causing the loss of a recruit and imprisoned for life.... When the procurement of conscripts by abduction became too expensive and too dangerous, the King turned to crude genetic engineering. Every tall male in Prussia was forced to marry a tall woman.... The price in human suffering was high. Living conditions for members of the Potsdam freak show were pitiful and morale was dreadful. Almost all of the men who passed through the regiment were held against their will. They mutinied regularly, and several times they tried to burn down the whole of Potsdam in the hope of killing the King in the process." (131-4) Peter I The Great, Czar of Russia (b1672-d1725) "created a drinking club, 'The Vastly Extravagant Supremely Absurd, Omni-Intoxicated Synod of Fools and Jesters.' The name was a dig at the more reactionary features of the Russian Church, but was mainly an excuse for orgiastic drinking sessions which lasted for days on end.... At these quasi-ceremonial binges Peter poured vodka down the throats of his cronies with a funnel.... The Czar liked to get other people drunk and watch them make fools of themselves while showing off his own legendary ability to drink. He would force everyone who dined with him to drink from bucketfuls of vodka and anyone who tried to duck out was forced to drink even more. It was a prospect that terrorized many of his guests, but the Czar had sentries posted at the doors of the banquet hall to stop them from leaving until he had been entertained." (156) His Empress, Catherine I, was a former laundry woman and camp-follower who attracted his attention after she "slept with most of his friends and he had heard them swap notes about her sexual experience." (160) Then there was "the unhinged Spanish Queen Juana la Loca ('The Mad'), who had a complete mental breakdown when her faithless and mostly absent husband died. She made up for lost time by insisting on keeping his embalmed body by her side, even at the dining table and in bed at night -- a trial for those around her at the best of times, and especially during the summer." (233) But my favorite is the Bavarian King Ludwig II (b1845-d1886), who bankrupted his country by building fairy tale castles. Today those same castles are tourist attractions that enrich the country. He was a patron to the composer Richard Wagner whose stories he adored and tried to live in. He had special armor created that made him look like a magical swan. "He had artificial moons installed in his bedrooms under which he and his lover Prince Paul von Thurn und Taxis would cavort dressed as Barbarossa and Lohengrin. The King's nocturnal jaunts in the valleys of the Bavarian alps in his fantastically gilded, rococo horse-drawn sleigh were legend." (243)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Got syphilis? Maybe a little touch of gonorrhea? No problem, you're a king! Having an adulterous affair are you? Well, if you're the king it's o.k., but if you're just the lowly queen, it's grounds for divorce. Or maybe we'll just ship you off to a convent or an asylum. Whats that you say? Oh, you're just insane - no biggie, you're still of noble birth. Um, what do you mean you're a commoner!? Well that, we simply cannot abide! After all, we must draw the line somewhere... Therein lies the tone of Got syphilis? Maybe a little touch of gonorrhea? No problem, you're a king! Having an adulterous affair are you? Well, if you're the king it's o.k., but if you're just the lowly queen, it's grounds for divorce. Or maybe we'll just ship you off to a convent or an asylum. Whats that you say? Oh, you're just insane - no biggie, you're still of noble birth. Um, what do you mean you're a commoner!? Well that, we simply cannot abide! After all, we must draw the line somewhere... Therein lies the tone of this witty book. At times quite funny, but mostly just sad, this book is what you might call a "National Enquirer" style full-disclosure article about monarchies in Europe. While entertaining to me, I don't believe this book has mass appeal. You really need a strong stomach to finish the book and not throw it across the room. Three centuries of madness, debauchery, drug addiction, sex and adultery among the kings, queens, lords, ladies, and nobles of Europe are discussed at length. The history between the covers of this book is truly horrific, especially when one considers that it is not a work of fiction! This is a record of inbreeding, serious insanity, mass philandering, spread of STD's, and even Nazi sympathising, the likes of which I hope to never see again! Now I realize that I am only seeing these things through the narrow lens of my own cultural mores here, but come on! These people were truly sick. And while they were busy with their many psychoses, they were practically ruling the world! It's a wonder anyone survived, royal or otherwise. Contained within this volume are three thrilling centuries filled to the brim with mass suffering, war, national upheaval and slaughter for the majority of people, while a very privileged minority wallowed in massive excess and madness, for no better reason than a documented history of inbreeding (to preserve the royal lineage, of course) and a fairly savvy sense of self-preservation (and the funds to ensure it). This book certainly presents us with a damning indictment of the divine right of anyone to rule anybody. In the end however, I must report that Royal Babylon is history lite at it's best. It's gossipy and has a sort of cotton candy consistency. You should not pick it up if you don't have a sense of humor about its subject matter. I cannot recommend it for the serious student of history, but it definitely was an amusing and entertaining, quick summer read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Pepca

    Read it in translation - many factual and grammar errors. It is interesting, sometimes funny, but also sometimes disrespectful. I couldn't love it, but also couldn't put it down.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tanja Glavnik

    It might be our translation, but I ROAR with laughter every single time I read this. The situations certainly aren't funny - royalist topics usually never are, especially not in all the inter-mingling the European royals did in the past - but the way the author writes it ... it is funny. Obviously not always correct (I could see the glaring errors from a mile away!) but I don't take this as historical fact - more like a book to shut off my brain with a bit.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mick Meyers

    A rich and well researched book on the foibles of the royal family,reading this under the miasma that is covid19,should I be worried a thankful forthe queens national address to the nation.that aside it is very readable and in a strange way enjoyable book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Liana

    This has entirely changed the concept of "someday my prince will come", if he does come he won't be Disney's clean cut Prince Charming, he will be a toothless, hunchbacked, insane mongloid and his future wife will look exactly the same, since they are kissin' cousin's. This is exactly my kind of book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Is there such a thing as trashy historical non-fiction? If so, then this fits the bill - short chapters on the infamous (and sometimes disgusting) monarchies of Europe. Sex, drugs, murder, and syphillis ....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    The concept was great, but the book was poorly edited and hard to follow. It was difficult to keep the monarchs straight. Additionally, the formatting - separate sections within chapters for different events - was not very readable. A continuous narrative would have been more coherent.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    i loved this book. I have read a lot on british royals but i have to say, i was rather disturbed at just how nuts and inbred they really were. basically the inbreeding did not stop til charles married diana. thank god elizabeth II children has finally stopped reproducing with their cousins!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Maegan Mariee

    While mildly entertaining in parts, I found myself struggling to get through this book once I hit page 180. Or somewhere around there. I found the author to be more bitchy than factual. Whatever his sources, I just didn't like the tone of this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Bates

    After the 8th chapter I figured it out: incest, syphilis, and ca-razy people. At first it was entertaining and slightly enlightening but the same formula over and over got dry.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    If you're a fan of the royal families of Europe, this book gives a different viewpoint. When reading about ancient Egypt, we are aghast at the pharaohs who married sisters to brothers, brothers to half-sisters. The main difference between those ancient kings and the royalty of Europe is the degree of incest - nieces married uncles, first cousins wed, and we're looking right up into the 20th century. Seriously, the Norse Norns could learn a thing or two about weaving considering how interwoven so If you're a fan of the royal families of Europe, this book gives a different viewpoint. When reading about ancient Egypt, we are aghast at the pharaohs who married sisters to brothers, brothers to half-sisters. The main difference between those ancient kings and the royalty of Europe is the degree of incest - nieces married uncles, first cousins wed, and we're looking right up into the 20th century. Seriously, the Norse Norns could learn a thing or two about weaving considering how interwoven some of these family trees are. Seven different family trees are included. An excellent example that Shaw provided was the previous Comte de Paris, Henri, (he died in January 2019) was related to his 16th century ancestor, Henry IV - who ascended the throne in 1589 - in 108 different ways. A generation is considered between 20 and 25 years so the difference of 410 years means there are only 16-20 generations to get those 108 ways. Incredible. {The generational figuring was me being curious and not part of the actual book beyond the example.} This reads almost like a catalog of depravity - mental illnesses, adultery and sexual exploits with multiple partners of both sexes, sadism, pedophilia, illegitimacy, and more. On the other hand, there are some amusing tales as well - like the king who had audiences with foreign ministers and representatives while sitting on the toilet. The king that 'collected' soldiers over 6 feet - the taller the better. The kleptomaniac queen that would pocket anything that caught her eye if the owner wouldn't gift the item. Familiarity with gallons of alcohol and unfamiliarity with basic hygiene. Of course, some of the results of all this interbreeding was the infamous Bourbon nose and Hapsburg chin, birth defects, reduced intelligence, physical and medical frailty, mental aberrations, an enlarged tongue and hemophilia. Shaw has a wonderful turn of phrase that just can make you smile - '...gave him the appearance of a bulldog with a hangover'. '...devouring food and women like a latter-day Elvis Presley.' '...while his brother was busy altering the Bavarian skyline....' '...his reputation for never bathing went before him, especially when he stood upwind.' It's almost like reading an extensive gossip magazine. Fun but still have to take with the proverbial grain of salt. Not saying that the research that Shaw did and reported on is not true but Shaw wrote almost exclusively about the negatives and some of the more extreme examples. 2019-047

  17. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Elizabeth

    I know this book has been slammed but I read it anyways. I am a huge history buff and while watching Victoria I was interested in the various lesser royals depicted in the series. I have always been intrigued by the bloodlines of royals and their impact on historical events. I sat down with my trusty historical atlas, notebook and laptop and spent 3 weeks looking up paintings, information and whatever else I could find on various families and afflictions. So fun! I liked the book. I will preface b I know this book has been slammed but I read it anyways. I am a huge history buff and while watching Victoria I was interested in the various lesser royals depicted in the series. I have always been intrigued by the bloodlines of royals and their impact on historical events. I sat down with my trusty historical atlas, notebook and laptop and spent 3 weeks looking up paintings, information and whatever else I could find on various families and afflictions. So fun! I liked the book. I will preface by saying that the copyright date has a lot to do with the accuracy of some of the information. Example: Early on in the book the author is relating the inbreeding of the Hanovers and indicates various "medical" diagnosis. Many are indeed hereditary. When discussing paranoia, the author refers to King George VI as being paranoid about his brother the former King Edward VIII wanting to help the Nazis and be placed back on the throne. We know now that that is precisely what happened. The American and British various secret services have released documents that indicate so. The book does tote the idea that King Edward VIII lost his crown due to the woman he loved - we know differently now. His collusion with Germany was the reason.

  18. 5 out of 5

    thereadingowlvina (Elvina Ulrich)

    Royal Babylon is like TMZ of royal families; an expose of the last three centuries of Europe's most dysfunctional dynasties from the Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain, Hohenzollern dynasty (Prussia and Germany), the Alphonsos of Spain to Louis XIV of France. It is replete with hilarious and incredulous historical facts about these families' madness, corruption, debauchery, scandalous affairs, peculiar obsessions (King Frederick William's Potsdam Giant Guards), and royal inbreeding. It's a gros Royal Babylon is like TMZ of royal families; an expose of the last three centuries of Europe's most dysfunctional dynasties from the Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain, Hohenzollern dynasty (Prussia and Germany), the Alphonsos of Spain to Louis XIV of France. It is replete with hilarious and incredulous historical facts about these families' madness, corruption, debauchery, scandalous affairs, peculiar obsessions (King Frederick William's Potsdam Giant Guards), and royal inbreeding. It's a grossly fun read and Shaw's amusing and snarky prose just makes it even more entertaining! Overall, I enjoyed this book despite the who's who in the royal family tree can be overwhelmingly confusing!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Book is OK though rather dated (published 1999) as far as present time goes vis-à-vis European royalty. It's interesting regarding the past. Perhaps it could be considered as one of those books that one picks up on holiday, peruses quickly, and leaves it on a hotel table for the next person to perhaps pick it up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is not light bed-time reading. European royals were often inbred, and therefore physically and mentally disabled. They committed murder, incest, and genocide, to name a few. But they could also be just plain weird. Catherine the Great of Russia had a dining table that could be lowered under the floor to conceal her many lovers. Peter the Great proclaimed beards illegal.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Ultimately boring and redundant. The sheer idiocy and cruelty of these monarchs started to blur into a continuous loop of debauchery. There were occasional bits of interesting cultural or political history, but I started to skim the book out of boredom about halfway through. Yawn

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    Interesting, had to appreciate the research that went into it, but somewhat repetitive. In books about royalty, I expect the authors to be familiar with styles and titles. A mistake, such as referring to the prospective bride of Prince Eddy as "Crown Princess Margaret" of Prussia, sticks out.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zach

    I don't have any respect for royalty either, and I think that's good, but that doesn't mean I want to read a gossip rag about them..

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anne Meester

    3.5 Stars. A fluff read of sorts, but still an extremely interesting one.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nell

    While an interesting read, the factual errors really made me wish I could edit this and send it back.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

    I decided to read "Royal Babylon" because of my lifelong interest in royalty, mainly British; but I'm quite well informed on most other European royalty as well. I expected a generous helping of salacious "factoids" and gossipy hearsay, although the author did supply a rather surprisingly extensive bibliography. What I didn't expect was the mean-spirited attitude of the author, whose style can only be described as snarky. I'm well aware that many royals throughout history have been far from nobl I decided to read "Royal Babylon" because of my lifelong interest in royalty, mainly British; but I'm quite well informed on most other European royalty as well. I expected a generous helping of salacious "factoids" and gossipy hearsay, although the author did supply a rather surprisingly extensive bibliography. What I didn't expect was the mean-spirited attitude of the author, whose style can only be described as snarky. I'm well aware that many royals throughout history have been far from noble, and that the European royal families were eventually coming from a very small gene pool. Those facts aside, I found this book to be written in an incredibly condescending, resentful and very off-putting manner. The author is obviously an extreme anti-monarchist, and not a very eloquent one at that. Almost every ruler he scrutinizes is described as "the worst". It's hard to imagine that they could all be the worst, though virtually all are presented as sex-crazed, syphilitic and insane. Oh, and hideously ugly, and, more often than not with rotting teeth accompanied by necrotic breath. These dubious qualities, however, seemed to be no obstacle to most of them fathering illegitimate offspring sometimes numbering in the hundreds, according to the author. Every member of every royal family in existence seems to have been either "monstrously fat", or "a dwarf". They were frequently deformed, almost always breathtakingly ugly, and usually raving mad with intelligence hovering somewhere between idiot and imbecile. This vitriolic litany might have been improved by judicious editing--at least enough to weed out the annoying repetition and give some order to the descriptions. The author starts with one mad ruler, skips ahead a few generations, then sidesteps to other, lesser-known royal anomalies before taking a giant leap backward to generations long before his original subject. All of this mayhem could have been slightly less confusing had there been some hint of chronological order. Despite the aforementioned bibliography, the author offers no footnotes or cited sources for his incredible claims; and further undermines his credibility by misidentifying several of the royal personages he so passionately berates. There are a few--a very few--interesting anecdotes contained in this chaotic mass character assassination. Unfortunately, they are not enough to make this hackneyed hate-fest worth reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Buffy

    It was quite interesting to learn about the darker side of these people who affected the lives of so many. When I think of princes, princesses, kings and queens my mind conjures up noble people who are committed to ruling their countries. Obviously, I knew that many of them were corrupt and prone to indulging in their desires, whatever they may be, but I still usually think of them as being very wise. Or at least more intelligent than the average person. As I read this book, it became apparent t It was quite interesting to learn about the darker side of these people who affected the lives of so many. When I think of princes, princesses, kings and queens my mind conjures up noble people who are committed to ruling their countries. Obviously, I knew that many of them were corrupt and prone to indulging in their desires, whatever they may be, but I still usually think of them as being very wise. Or at least more intelligent than the average person. As I read this book, it became apparent to me that the majority of historical books that I’ve read have been about events and how people have shaped them rather than ones which look into the personalities of these royals. A lot of them weren’t very bright. There’s a paragraph in this book which describes a conversation between Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife and the chief eunuch of the harem in Constantinople where she asked him if his father had also been a eunuch. Madness, syphilis and haemophilia ran rampant throughout the royal families of Europe who were so inbred that most couldn’t hope to avoid some type of related ailment. Their strangest whims had to be indulged at all times. “…the darkly psychopathic Frederick William I, “the drill master of Europe,” was a dangerous sadist known to posterity for his freakish army of giants and the way he terrorised everyone, including his own children.” He apparently ran through the streets bashing his citizens with a stick and would pay any amount for men to join his army of giants. This resulted in many men over 6 feet tall being abducted and forced into service. I found this book to be a great resource for inspiration as far as my writing is concerned. It’s also made me want to read more about these people and their exploits as sometimes their antics are stranger than fiction. It would seem that with great responsibility often comes great idiocy. This was a very fun read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    An impulse read promoted on my library shelf, and I have regrets. I suppose there's some entertainment here if you can swallow the writer's snarky attitude and overlook the total lack of substantiation for the allegations. I feel queasy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Roth

    A jolly good read, well researched, and very snarky. Genealogical charts are good--there's nothing more infuriating than a book about royalty *without* genealogical charts--but they should have been more thorough. If you're going to bother, then include everyone mentioned in the text. One of the things that stands out here is that, among all the debauched, degraded, depraved royals, when you get to the Russians--Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, etc.--then when in every aspect--sexual devianc A jolly good read, well researched, and very snarky. Genealogical charts are good--there's nothing more infuriating than a book about royalty *without* genealogical charts--but they should have been more thorough. If you're going to bother, then include everyone mentioned in the text. One of the things that stands out here is that, among all the debauched, degraded, depraved royals, when you get to the Russians--Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, etc.--then when in every aspect--sexual deviance, bloodthirstiness, contempt for the citizenry, drunkenness, playing fast and loose with the hereditary system (what's this shit about just appointing widows willy-nilly as successors?), inbred imbecility and madness, and literally filthiness as in hygiene--in every respect, I say, the Russians beat everyone else hands down. Wittelsbachs, Windsors, Hanoverians, Bourbons, Hohenzollerns, Habsburgs--they're all Ozzy and Harriet compared to the Romanovs. Holy cow. It puts today's European geopolitics in a very useful context. That is all.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Good stuff. It is quite a long read as it is filled with information and spans generations of the 5 major houses of Europe. At points, without a strong background in European History, it was hard to keep track of who was who, in relation to the modern English Monarchy. But the book is amazingly entertaining and eye-opening. As a coworker said, if they taught this reality in schools, kids would actually be interested and excited about history. Did you know that almost every royal had a harem of mi Good stuff. It is quite a long read as it is filled with information and spans generations of the 5 major houses of Europe. At points, without a strong background in European History, it was hard to keep track of who was who, in relation to the modern English Monarchy. But the book is amazingly entertaining and eye-opening. As a coworker said, if they taught this reality in schools, kids would actually be interested and excited about history. Did you know that almost every royal had a harem of mistresses on the side and their wives often knew? Ever wonder about the dangers of inbreeding? Ever wonder what the psychiatric treatments of the day were? Tittilated by juicy scandles and cover-ups like the ones you read in the tabloids and find out are real? If you can stomach tales of mental illness, physical deformity, STDs, and murder, then this book is definately worth a look!

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