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Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire

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3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  1,040 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
A funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty 900-year history of the royal marriages of Europe's most famous-and infamous-monarchs.

Since time immemorial, royal marriages have had little to do with love- and almost everything to do with diplomacy and dynasty. Clashing personalities have joined in unholy matrimony to form such infamous couples as Russia's Peter II and Catheri
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Kindle Edition, Original, 530 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by NAL (first published November 9th 2009)
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Bookworm1858
Summary: An examination of notorious royal marriages from Henry and Eleanor to Henry and his six wives to Charles and Diana.

Why I Read: My mom read it and passed it on to me.

My Thoughts: This is a delightfully gossipy history that is far more interesting than every other book I've been assigned to read this semester for history. I was surprised at how many of the couples were love matches! The big thing is that most of the ladies are repurposed from traditional portrayals into thinking, acting f
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Rebecca
Aug 11, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If other history books were written with this much wit and character, maybe so many American students wouldn't be flunking their world history exams.

Of course, this isn't intended to be a textbook or a treatise; it covers very specific information on a very narrow subject. But what a subject it is! She covers everything from the most infamous (Napoleon and Josephine) to more obscure (Joanna of Castille/Joanna the Mad and Phillip the Handsome), and all six wives of Henry VIII. She covers the anci
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Amy Bruno
After reading and loving Leslie Carroll's Royal Affairs, I just HAD to get my hands on her follow up non-fiction book, Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire! And, it did not disappoint! You see, Leslie has this great sense of humor that resonates throughout the book, making you laugh out loud and wishing high school history was taught this way! I, for one, would've stayed awake for sure!
In Notorious Royal Marriages, Miss Carroll covers
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Cheryl
Jul 06, 2011 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable and entertaining overview of many of Europe's royal marriages. I especially like how the author adds information about how the various royals were related, both vertically and horizontally on the family trees. I've used it several times since finishing it as a reference source of time periods and relations for other books and movies.
Kerry
Aug 02, 2010 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whilst I was secretly hoping for a long lost relative or descendent of Lewis Carroll with the author being Leslie Carroll, I guess instead I'll settle for some gossipy history. It's like the E! Network and People Magazine for ancient times. I feel dirty already.

But the opening page eased my worries as Countess Dangerosa was brought up. How pimp is that name? I’d give my left nut for all the fun I'd have with that name on the playground growing up. You think anyone would hassle me in capture the
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Fergie
Jan 15, 2015 Fergie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leslie Carroll does an admirable job outlining the many renowned royal marriages through the centuries. Students of history will recognize many of the subjects of whom Carroll chose to write, but the reader won't mind as the author's writing style is fluid with the ability to sustain interest. I'd read books in the past about some of the royal subjects covered in this book -- from England's famous Wars of the Roses love match -- Edward IV's marriage to commoner Elizabeth Woodville, to Henry VIII ...more
Lucy
Nov 05, 2009 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


Notorious Royal Marriages, by Leslie Carroll
Be prepared for an enchanting time with a story teller who’s sure to become one of your favourite raconteurs of the past. Leslie Carroll, author of Notorious Royal Marriages, promises you a memorable date with history; be sure to bring your own wine…you’re staying up late tonight.
Notorious Royal Marriages, by Leslie Carroll focuses on some of the most renowned royal couples in history. The stories include European monarchs from as early as the 12th c a
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Heather
Nov 01, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, arc, hfbrt
Non-fiction can be dry and stuffy – just a pile of facts laid out across the page; not so with Leslie Carroll’s new book! The way Leslie presents each royal couple it is like having a conversation with her. She is funny, witty, and gives great passing commentary. Here is an example of what I mean, from the section on Arthur Tudor and Katherine of Aragon:

"The bishop blessed the couple and wished them many years of fruitful life together, then departed and left the newlyweds to nature. Or not – d
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Aldrin
Aug 06, 2010 Aldrin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Aldrin by: Fully Booked Zine
Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire, as its mouthful of a subtitle articulates, offers a trip through almost a millennium’s worth of scandalous true stories populated by royal husbands and wives. And, boy, what an exciting trip it is. It is a book which owes its spine to the less than lovely love stories of thirty-two royal marriages told in chronological order by wedding date and marked by varying levels of spicy controversy, beginni ...more
Elena
Feb 23, 2011 Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Notorious Royal Marriage by Leslie Carroll is a delightful romp through European history by way of examining several of the most infamous couples of all time. Eleanor of Aquitaine and her consecutive kings, Isabella and Ferdinand, Juana and Philip, Henry VIII and all six Queens, Mary Stuart and Henry Lord Darnley, Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, Alexandra and her Nicholas and many more. It is a book which I found not only highly entertaining but in each chapter, even those about royals whom I ha ...more
Kirsti
Interesting survey of notable marriages among European royalty from the 1100s (Eleanor of Aquitaine, wow) to today (the Duchess of Cornwall, ick). As is so often the case with European history, my favorite parts were the insults:

lady-faced: Beardless and too femininely pretty to be attractive to women. An envoy used this term to describe Lord Darnley, who shortly afterward seduced and eloped with Mary, Queen of Scots.

hoyden: A boisterous girl; a tomboy. Used by the author to describe Marie Antoi
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Henry Roth
Apr 21, 2011 Henry Roth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most enjoyable and entertaining read. The book certainly is not a historical tome by any means, but rather provides a glimpse into an institution which for thousands of years determined the shape and nature of the world. This book illustrates how the royal families and marriages were used to cement and create political alliances and ensure that countries achieved and worked towards their strategic objectives.

On a whole different level, the book is also gossipy and in many respects reflects th
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Lauren Albert
This book is part of a genre I now call "history lite-ish"--cheesy cover, cheesy title and regular old interesting history in the middle. This is a very good look at royal marriages through the ages. And, with the exception of once-in-a-while descent into language like "Henry was sure there was nothing wrong with his plumbing," it is just well-written history broken into chapters that don't necessarily need to be read in order (although they are in sequential order). Clearly the covers and title ...more
Meg
Jan 20, 2011 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mary, Kasia
A very interesting read. It brings to light a lot of interesting points in the history of royal marriages. You always hear how intermarried they were, for instance, but this book really brings it home. Of course, reading about how two married people were raising armies against each other but still making babies together was incredible to think about it!

It's not terriby in-depth, but it's not meant to be- it's supposed to be general knowledge on each of the subjects. In that way it was an easy re
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Jill Hutchinson
This is a history of the arranged marriages of royalty that for the most part turned out to be disastrous. Women were used as pawns on the chessboard of Europe for political and monetary gain. Cousins married with abandon which passed the gene causing hemophilia through many of the ruling families, as well as providing many countries with less than intelligent or sane kings and queens. The author covers many of the marriages with which we are familiar but adds her own humorous spin and keeps her ...more
Jean Marie
Jun 13, 2011 Jean Marie rated it it was amazing
Oh this was fun. While a good chunk of the couples discussed within it I had already known a great deal about (especially Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Six Wives of Henry VIII) but the way this was written made it easy to read and easy to learn so that those who are new to the historical scene can get their feet wet easily. I also enjoyed the snark that was employed throughout the book, which made it fun.

I have Ms. Carroll's other two compilations that I look forward to reading through and expec
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Steve
Feb 13, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-read
A big change for me, not military history or even about one central historic figure. However, this is one of the best books I've ever read (sorry I lent it out). It is tagged as historical, retrospect indicated inaccuracies in the text; my response - no matter. It is VERY entertaining reading and if one does find a fault, it well provides a trigger for some insightful homework - Great Book, each chapter covers a differing historic couple.
Donna
Dec 09, 2011 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this book 3 1/2 stars if there was such an option. Well written and well researched, the truth is interesting enough without the author attempting to be salacious, as I have seen with other books of this type. Ms. Carroll did a great job of presenting the facts. I would recommend this to all history buffs, particularly Anglophiles. Who needs TMZ and People when you have Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.
Robin
Dec 26, 2009 Robin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle, royalty
Like it's predecessor, it can serve as a good introduction to monarchical history, this time covering parts of European royalty too, not just the British. However, I didn't always agree with her assessment of historical figures and it covers a lot of the same royals you find in the author's non-fiction debut "Royal Affairs" so there is some overlap over information.
Ruth
Sorry. I got bored about a quarter of the way through this one. It's a nice compendium of information contained in other books, and doesn't offer any new insights at all.
Kim
Oct 11, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: royal-history
In reality, I'd give this four-and-a-half stars, but since there is no halving in the rating, four will have to do.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, having read one of Carroll's books in the past and not being all that impressed with it. In the case of Notorious Royal Marriages, though, I found myself devouring this book piece by piece whenever I had a spare moment.

(view spoiler)
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Sascha
Apr 14, 2013 Sascha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have been happier to have more variety in the marriages discussed, but I appreciate a historian's line of expertise tends to be specific rather than general. But let's be honest: a couple of Henry VIII's marriages (for me most notably Jane Seymour & Katherine Parr) weren't truly deserving to be in the list. A few others, too, seemed not to fall into the description of "notorious" much at all.

The sections are quite short, so you don't learn terribly much, but it's done in a very appro
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Dyah Subagyo
Jul 13, 2014 Dyah Subagyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I skipped some parts because I've known enough about the couple, for example Napoleon with both his first and second wife and Prince Charles with both his spouses.
I've always thought and known that royal marriages are just political alliances, designed to give both the bride's and groom's family side the benefits they needed. It surprises me that many of them started as love marriage, although not many of them survived amicably. I am so saddened that those marriages eventually soured and failed
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Ashley
Nov 22, 2011 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of history. Sometimes they blur together. Sometimes I get annoyed by authors that just follow what everyone else has said in the past. 'Oh Joanna the Mad was so in love with her husband that she went crazy? Better write that down.' and then they don't really research or think. Leslie Carroll does a really good job of actually looking for other factors. In fact the only thing I thought was tempered by modern myth was Napoleon Bonaparte being called short (by our perspective yeah, and ...more
Stacie
Apr 20, 2012 Stacie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book because I took it for what it was. I approached it as a broad introduction to different royals over the course of history with the intent of finding areas of history and people that I would like to explore further.

The book itself was like reading abstracts and did not have a lot of notes to support what the author was saying. I have read quite a bit about Henry VIII and his six wives and some of the details were off from what I remember reading in more well researched books.
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Simone
I became interested in this book after listening to an interview with the author on Rick Steve’s radio show and I thought I would like it since I am such a royalphile.

Turns out, I didn’t love it. I skimmed through many chapters in the begging because the pre Tudor era doesn't interest me that much, and since I have read many full biographies of the more Modern Royals the latter part of the book felt like a lot of rehashing of what I already knew.

I made it about three quarters of the way throug
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Nichole
Nov 04, 2013 Nichole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for juicy bits of drama and gossip about the rulers of Western Europe, look no further. This book pays homage to historical accuracy while at the same time delighting us with courtly gossip along the way. As such, it makes this book a very interesting read. The chapters are split up into short, easy to read sections which makes it easy to put down and pick up again when life gets in the way. It is also one of the few books I've seen like this that encompasses the lives of twent ...more
Gaile
Jan 24, 2014 Gaile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The history of scandalous romances of the rich and famous, those born to royalty or the aristocracy of various European countries. This is very enlightening and engaging for those interested in the hidden sins of people born to glory but turn out to be as normal as the lower classes in that they fall in love with the wrong people and so forth. Most of the affairs in this book were openly conducted so that everyone knew it but otherwise had to turn a blind eye.
While reading this book I wondered w
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Diana
Dec 09, 2012 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
Famous royal marriages through the centuries are dissected and examined.

I love reading about historic royals, and this book was a fun, gossipy installment that focused on a different aspect--marriages. While most were famous marriages, there were a few that I hadn't heard of or didn't know much about. There was also a lot of new facts and a new point of view. However, some of the rumors (such as affairs) were presented as foregone facts, and I'm not sure that there's enough hard historic evidenc
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Melissa
Sep 06, 2011 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I'd find this book to be exceedingly boring, just a list of facts and dates, but it was actually very interesting and entertaining. Each different section was only about 15-20 pages so it went pretty quickly. The author did a good job of not taking sides in any particular relationship, which I was thankful for. Even when it came to Prince Charles and Lady Diana, she didn't paint Diana as a complete saint as most are wont to do, she made full disclosure of even her mistakes.
I would def
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I used to tell people that I was born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx; but the truth is that apart from the stellar education I received at the Fieldston School in Riverdale, much of who I am was shaped by my two grandmothers, who encouraged me to follow my bliss long before it became the sort of catchphrase you find on tee-shirts and new-age tchotchkes. My East Side grandmother took me to FA ...more
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“It was a popular theory at the time that death didn't automatically end a marriage because the spouses would eventually be reunited in heaven. The most pragmatic reason for the Church's view was that England was a land-based society and property was inherited upon the death of a spouse, so a remarriage threatened the inheritance of any issue from the previous union.” 1 likes
“Motherhood had been metamorphosing Marie Antoinette into a more grounded and responsible woman. Her pregnancies had necessitated several months' absence from her usual round of gay amusements and she discovered that it was more fun to spend time with her children than it had been to play faro deep into the wee hours of the morning.
But her reputation as a frivolous, extravagant ninny and the marital issues in the royal bed had already demonized her in the eyes of the people at all levels of society.”
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