This week, I read an awesome book by historian Eleanor Herman called Sex with Kings. If the title wasn't provocative enough, here's the cover of the paperback version:
Scandalous! :) The book, as you've probably figured out, is about royal mistresses throughout history -- the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
I read a lot about royalty -- I love the British royal family, especially the Queen and Prince William (and his girlfriend, Kate, too -- if they would just get married already, LOL!). But this was a side of royalty I didn't know much about. We always joked in history class in college about the number of illegitimate children some monarchs produced -- Charles II had 12 or 13, I think! -- but I had never really thought much about the women behind the word "mistress."
I was shocked at how complicated the world of the royal mistress was. The title is a little ironic, because sex was only really a minor part of the role a mistress played. She had to be beautiful, witty, interesting, loyal, smart, and, most of all, power hungry. Royal mistresses ran wars and sat in on political meetings; they also dictated fashions and accrued fortunes and titles.
But it definitely wasn't an easy role to play -- Herman writes about how the mistress always had to be on guard to watch for other women who wanted to take her place. And when a royal mistress fell out of favor, she could lose everything!
I was initially not sure I was going to love this book, but the second I cracked it open, I was completely fascinated. If you, like me, are interested in history that isn't just about wars fought by men, I think you'll like this one, too!
If you're interested in purchasing the book, here's a link to Amazon:
(If you buy the book through that link, I get a little percentage of the profits for referring you! Pretty cool, no?)
Next up: Middlemarch by George Eliot -- it's been a slog so far, but I'm hoping things improve soon!