HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Check out the Pride Celebration Treasure Hunt!
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Sex With Kings by Eleanor Herman
Loading...

Sex With Kings (2004)

by Eleanor Herman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,226399,881 (3.63)33
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 33 mentions

English (38)  Spanish (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
I purchased this book immediately after finishing Herman's [b:Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics|16179|Sex with the Queen 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics |Eleanor Herman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1166719842s/16179.jpg|641167]. Sex with Kings is well written with incredibly clever writing, but it is not very well organized. I found it to be a bit repetitive. This book would have worked much better if it was written chronologically, which is luckily exactly how Herman organized her next book, Sex with the Queen. It was unfortunately quite difficult to follow the kings, queens and mistresses that were covered. However, I can easily forgive Herman for this, as it is more of her editor's fault. This book is history at its best. Absolutely absorbing. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
In Sex With Kings, a companion volume to Sex With The Queen, Eleanor Herman sheds light on royal men and the mistresses they took. At least in part, the implication is that royal men took mistresses not only because they wanted to, but to demonstrate to their courts that they were virile and vigorous. An overactive sex drive was (and to a certain extent, continues to be) an expected trait in men, and the king was supposed to be the manliest man of all. But the services that a royal mistress was to provide went far beyond sex (look no further than Madame de Pompadour, whose sexual relationship with King Louis XV ended long before her reign as royal mistress ended): she was to provide pleasant companionship to the King whenever he wanted it. That meant being available at all times, never being snappy or rude (although some mistresses were famous for quick tempers, most were not), never complaining of any inconvenience. They were rewarded with fancy rooms in the palace, titles, and estates, but those could be stripped when a new favorite was installed, so the smart ones got jewels and cash.

This book was actually published prior to Sex With The Queen, and I think Herman learned from her issues with Sex With Kings in writing the second book. While the structure is fairly similar (a topic, like the children of mistresses, is the focus of each chapter and various examples are highlighted to illustrate it), Sex With The Queen also took a deeper dive into a few stories, like Catherine the Great, and told them straight through. I think that approach was ultimately more successful than the one used in this book, which has a few women to whom it constantly returns (Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, Louise de Keroualle, Lady Castlemaine, and Lola Montez are particular favorites). You don't really get a sense of the full scope of these women's lives as their stories get told piecemeal, and it can get confusing to try to keep them and all their details straight. I found myself having to flip back, try to remember which king they were attached to, who their rivals and predecessors were, what country and era they lived in.

Along with the issues with the way in which the stories were told, Herman's fondness for cheesy physical description gets a little eye-roll-y at times. The women seem to uniformly have "cascading hair", "sparkling eyes", and a "dazzling complexion". I like that she's trying to make the mistresses and their lives and struggles feel contemporary and real instead of something out of a stuffy history book, but I think their stories are compelling enough without the gushy language. That all being said, these are interesting stories and ones which we don't usually come across. Herman does a good job of shedding light on details we might not usually think about when it comes to how these women's lives actually played out behind the scenes, and this would be a great starter book if you're interested in this kind of thing, like I am, and want to get ideas about biographies you'd like to explore. I'd heard of Madame de Pompadour before, and the information in this book was definitely enough to make me interested in reading more about her! ( )
  500books | May 22, 2018 |
OK, I just finished a book on evolutionary biology and a heavy biography of Christopher Wren. I get to have a little fun, alright? And this one is a little fun. It was good to be the King. It was sometimes good to be the King’s mistress. (We are talking exclusively about the female companions of male European royalty here; Catherine the Great and Edward II don’t come up). Each chapter discusses a different aspect of being a royal mistress; qualifications for the job, how you presented your resume, benefits and perks, public relations, and the retirement program. It’s all presented in PG fashion; enough detail to induce a smile but not enough for a leer.

On the light side, we have Agnes Sorel turning up in the earliest (1449) surviving painting of a royal mistress. She’s incongruously depicted as the Madonna, in a pose that might induce alien contact believers into thinking that the Zeta Reticulans handed out silicone in the later Middle Ages. Nell Gwynn sounds like somebody it would be fun to hang out with; when here coach was stopped in the street by an angry mob who thought she was Louise de Kéroualle, one of Charles II other ladies who happened to have the unpopular distinction of being both French and Catholic, Nell stuck her head out the carriage window and shouted “Please, good people! I’m the Protestant whore!. The mob burst into laughter and let her go.

It's abundantly clear that the mistresses were almost always smarter than their royal companions. They had to be, it was clearly not all fun and games. Being the royal mistress was an official position in the prerevolutionary French court (you got to attend cabinet meetings, which must have been a mixed blessing) and because it was potentially extremely lucrative families competed to have their daughters selected for the job. Some of the daughters were clearly not enthused about the idea. Louise de La Valière was almost literally shoved into Louis XIV’s bed by her venal relatives at the age of seventeen. She had four illegitimate children by him, dutifully supported her family with the proceeds, then suffered the humiliation of being forced to be her successor’s (Athénaïs de Montespan) maid. She performed her new duties faithfully but retired to a Carmelite convent as soon as she could, after first throwing herself prone at the Queen’s feet and begging forgiveness. Queen Marie-Thérèse latter found herself taking a rest in the same convent and burst into tears when she saw the former Countess da La Valière in a coarse brown habit limping across the courtyard with a bundle of laundry.

The last official French royal mistress, Marie Jeanne du Barry, was dragged out of retirement and forced to “look through the Republican window” after pleading for her life in exchange for her remaining jewelry (they took the jewels anyway). Dorothy Jordan, the actress-mistress of William IV, bore him ten children. All ten were ennobled by the King, but they and their father allowed their mother to die alone in poverty because she was now an embarrassment.

After light and heavy we get just plain strange; King Pedro of Portugal wanted to legitimize his children by long-time mistress Inez de Castro and petitioned the Pope accordingly. The Pope demurred, stating that the only way this would be acceptable would be if Inez had been formally crowned Queen of Portugal and this was now impossible since she’d been dead for four years. It’s not good to call the King’s bluff; Pedro had Inez disinterred, formally robed and crowned as Queen, and spent a day with her enthroned next to him. It must have been disconcerting for the nobility who were forced to kiss her hand.

On a final note, the author really got into her research; she dressed in Baroque style for awhile just to see what it felt like (she liked the jewelry and brocade gown but was less than enthused about the corset). A picture of her so garbed in the endpapers is quite appealing. ( )
1 vote setnahkt | Jan 2, 2018 |
Oooooo....now this was fun! I like my history a little bit bawdy and this book fits the bill. Foot fetishes, gay kings, lesbian mistresses, the viciousness of Versailles.... This book has it all.

I can really only find one major flaw with it. The extraordinary amount of information contained is almost overwhelming. I read this book to help me get through a more emotionally challenging book. This book created a diversion of sorts. I think this book needs to be just that - I diversion. Take it in small doses. It can still keep you busy for quite awhile. For example, the book only has a few images of the mistresses, queens, and kings mentioned. I spent a considerable time on Google simply trying to find what what the ravishing beauty or complete frump (not my descriptions, but the descriptions from those at court) looked like. And even then, those images needed to be taken with a grain of salt as a mistress would not be caught dead looking less than absolutely picturesque.

I say read this, savor it, quote things to friends, post titillating tidbits on Facebook, because if nothing else you just might win that game of Trivial Pursuit. ( )
  Christina_E_Mitchell | Sep 9, 2017 |
This was almost a really good book. ( )
  trishrobertsmiller | Dec 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To my mother, Louise, in Heaven
First words
If prostitution is the world's oldest profession, then the finer art of being a mistress must be the second oldest.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Book description
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.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060585447, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:29 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A five-century history of royal courtesan life offers insight into the motivations and experiences of some of Europe's most famous and influential royal mistresses, including the Marquise de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and Camilla Parker-Bowles.

» see all 3 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.63)
0.5 4
1 2
1.5 3
2 17
2.5 4
3 76
3.5 20
4 87
4.5 7
5 50

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,527,550 books! | Top bar: Always visible