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Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  498 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
The author of "Notorious Royal Marriages" presents some of history's boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals.
The bad seeds on the family trees of the most powerful royal houses of Europe often became the most rotten of apples: uber-violent autocrats Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible literally reigned in blood. Lettice Knollys strove to mimic the appearance of her cous
ebook, 416 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by New American Library (first published February 4th 2011)
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Mar 28, 2012 Lucy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me ask you important is it for you to learn about historical figures when reading history? Are you one of those people who strictly wants timelines with just a mere mention of names- OR- do you mostly crave facts and details on people of the past? If you tend to lean on the latter, Leslie Carroll’s books are perfect for you!

After finishing Royal Pains, I felt completely satiated- a definite history fill that I am still raving about. Royal Pains is history bliss for anyone wan
Mar 23, 2011 Jean rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm all for breezy non-fiction works; I applaud popularizing historical works. But I'm afraid I can't really countenance phrases like "BFF" in a work of non-fiction, particularly in a section about Ivan the Terrible! This book goes too far in the breezy, popularizing direction and isn't helped by insufficient documentation. You don't want to clutter up a work of popular history with a ton of footnotes, I understand that. But if you're going to say things like "Her aunt Klara was a bisexual sadom ...more
Mar 11, 2011 V rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z2011
Although I'm sure it is completely intentional, the conversational tone of this book and (especially) the use of modern terminology and colloquialisms are a real turn off for me. I'm not saying that histories need to be written in stilted language, but this degree of informality undermines a work of nonfiction. Why should I believe that the author is doing a fair job in her analysis and summary of historical works if her writing sounds like a teenager's history term paper? The storytelling also ...more
Carole Rae
May 10, 2011 Carole Rae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book follows the lives of many historical royal pains. Every single one of them was horrid and lived extremely crazy lives. From Vlad the Impaler to Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon. This novel gives great detail about these people; not only what they did, but their childhoods and possible reasons why they did what they did. Many had very abnormal and bad childhoods. Some were just psychotic and had something wrong with their mind. Since I'm taking General Psychology right now, I foun ...more
Considering the generality of much of the information and the fact Carroll attributes sources in text, I didn’t really have a problem with a lack of foot or endnotes.

I know this history lite, a step remove from general reference, yet it very much felt like a cliff note version or a summary of other works. For instance, the chapter on Pauline Bonaparte is heavily drawn from Flora Fraser’s book. There isn’t anything wrong with it, after all Carroll attributes it, but it still feels like reading t
Mar 18, 2011 Pylgrym rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pylgrym by: Giveaway copy
Royal Pains is a fun, informative read. Biography lite. It can be approached as a series of short essays to spread the fun. It does have a time line, however. Two-thirds of the book consists of rounding up the usual suspects in England and all but one is well known to history buffs. The Europeans are actually even more notorious if possible. Leslie Carroll does an excellent job of sorting out truth from infamy as in the segment on Richard III where some of the more outrageous claims made by the ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, arc
Leslie Carroll certainly knows how to pick them! The baddies in this book were certainly scandalous, grotesque, or sometimes quite crazy. There were several figures who were very familiar to me and there were a couple that I had never heard of before .Even during the chapters about those who were familiar to me, I still found something new and interesting. They also spanned many different countries – and several were from countries from the former Soviet Union which were very obscure to me.

Mar 25, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book dedicates 30-50 pages recounting the exploits of each of the following: King John, Vlad the Impaler, George, Duke of Clarence, Richard III, Ivan the Terrible, Lettice Knollys, The Blood Countess, Prince Henry, Duke of Cumberland, Pauline Bonaparte, Archduke Rudolf, Prince Albert Victor and Princess Margaret. This is an interesting book for those of us who enjoy reading about history but don't fit in the history buff category. The bios are short enough to not bore and to be able to tole ...more
Mar 15, 2011 Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"King John was not a good man...." ~ from A.A. Milne's "King John"

With her inimitable brand of poignancy, wit and humor, Leslie Carroll entertains us once more with her newly released book "Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds." Once again, I looked for spare moments in which to slip away to my reading corner. Although the stories of naughty (and sometimes genuinely evil) royals are not without tragedy and pathos, Leslie's piquant observations are such that one cannot h
Mar 16, 2011 Tiffany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This book was really interesting, especially if you have an interest in historical fiction. It helps put characters that seem to appear in a lot of these books in a historical context so you can understand them better. The premise of the book was interesting, even if much of the information is almost common knowledge. The book is conversational in tone, which helps to keep if from being dry like a regular history book.
Briefly interesting entries on royal and loosely-royal "badly behaved" people. The author chose far too wide a category or definition of "bad seed." Vlad the Impaler, Lettice Knollys, and Princess Margaret do not belong in a book together for being difficult royalty.
There were two, maybe three, loosely formed categories: the killers, likely mentally disturbed, and total sadists (King John, Vlad, Ivan the Terrible, Elizabeth Bathory, Archduke Rudolf); the embarrassments, usually for being a disa
Aug 07, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Nymphomania, sibling rivalry, insanity, sadism...Each chapter of this book focuses on a different Royal - exploring in detail how their scandalous behavior shocked (and sometimes killed) their families and subjects.

The book includes:

*A countess whose skin care regimen involved bathing in the blood of virgins (Erzsebet Bathory of Hungary)

*A woman who consistently juggled multiple lovers at one time, including possibly her own brother, to the point that her doctors pleaded with her to practice ab
Jane Davis
This is a first reads book that I tackled as soon as I got it and it is a fun read. The first Bad Girl I read was princess Margaret Rose. When I was in college I was aware of her shenanigans but here I get all the details. I then went on to John I, if you don't know your history it can really make your head swim but Leslie Carroll has a way of cutting and arranging everything with wit and style. I have not finished the book but as soon as I do I must get the companion book of royal marriages. Th ...more
May 29, 2014 Carrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm normally not a person who says that history needs to be left to the historians but this book at times caused me to think just that. While it was captivating and a fast read, the author played a little fast and loose with the facts. The number of sources listed per person are very few, leading to a potentially biased mini-bio (which is mentioned a few times, the issue of potential bias). History can be written as entertaining, fun, captivating, and all sorts of other descripters without havin ...more
Sep 28, 2014 JoyAnna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eleven stories of royals gone wild!!! Some I had read about before so nothing new there like Vlad thenImpaler (Dracula) and the Countess of Bathory who murdered young girls and bathed in their blood thinking it would maintain her youth. Truly some were psychopaths which probably came from inbreeding as cousins marrying cousins all over the place. Others just bad seeds full of ambition to gain the throne and some no ambition to do anything shaming the throne. The most interesting story was on the ...more
Apr 13, 2011 Kimbers10 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AMAZING! I read it in less than 2 1/2 days! I couldn't put it down. BEST book I've read in forever!
I will be doing a review on my blog sometime this week regarding this book.

Tami Greaney
Jul 19, 2011 Tami Greaney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2011, tudors
Very interesting and well written. Read about some I was familiar with and some I wasn't. And each person was in a small manageable chapter that didn't bog you down with too much unfamiliar history.
Sandra Cruz
Sep 28, 2011 Sandra Cruz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My kind of book. History, but with a scandalous twist.
This was a fun, conversational romp through some of history worst royals. Each chapter presents a different rogue, from Vlad the Impaler to Elizabeth I’s cousin Lettice Knollys to Napoleon’s young sister. Some of the chapters seemed more fully fleshed out than others but that could be due to the amount of source material available as some of these folks were less well documented than others. Some of this figures I was already familiar with but their chapters did contain new tidbits. Others, like ...more
Lolly's Library (Dork Kettle)
Like other popular history books, the tone of Royal Pains is lively and flippant, with a 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' kind of intimacy, as though the profiles it contains are bits of juicy gossip heard at the latest coffee klatsch. Though I understand why this kind of convivial narration is used--coupled with the fairly sensationalist subject matter, it helps draw in a wider audience and keep them reading, most likely with the idea that they'll stay unaware of the fact they're taking in and enjoyi ...more
Catelyn May
Jan 02, 2012 Catelyn May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
My taste in history books runs from the very dry (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) to the ultra-comprehensive (Europe: A History) to the deliciously popular, such as this. Sometimes I just need to read about mistresses and murder, and royal antics in general. Leslie Carroll is the perfect writer for such times.

I loved Royal Affairs, which I read last year, and I've got her Notorious Royal Marriages on my to-read shelf. I recommend books like this to my friends who don't enjoy history an
May 30, 2013 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
The book is organized chronologically, and I wasn't impressed with the earlier stories. Although she works to come up with "pluses" to balance the scales of some of the notorious medieval rulers, the first chapters end up being mostly recitations of the horrors of the reigns of the likes of Ivan the Terrible and Vlad the Impaler. A few paragraphs on the influence of their upbringings and violent political milieus, which could have been interesting, were followed by pages of detailed descriptions ...more
Lynne Tull
May 07, 2012 Lynne Tull rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I bet you thought I would never finish this book. Well, I didn't either, but I did! Just when you think you have heard/read/know it all, up jumps some new information. That was the case for me when I read this book. I had never really studied history in school so that's my excuse.

Each chapter of the book is devoted to a different 'Royal Pain'. It is in chronological order, but really does not have to be read in that order. It was just good for me to be able to relate it to a familiar time perio
I received this book in a First Reads giveaway and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I thought it had a good selection of royals; some I already knew were infamously horrible, the type that you look up on Wikipedia when you can't sleep at night (or maybe that's just me) like Vlad the Impaler or Erzsebet Bathory, some I knew from legends or plays like Prince John of Robin Hood fame and Richard III, and some I had no idea had any kind of scandal associated with them like Napoleon's and Queen Elizab ...more
Overall, this book wasn't bad, but I'd definitely recommend it to a casual reader of history. I agree with many of the other reviews in that this is very light historical nonfiction. That's not to say that all of the content is fluffy - if you're weak of stomach, I really wouldn't recommend the chapters on Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory. Those were rough even for me, and I had a pretty good idea of what was coming.

It's also true, as others have pointed out, that many of her sources rely
I won this on Goodreads First Reads.

I liked this book. It was an easy read, with a laid back conversational tone to the writing. I knew that some of the people in the book had scandalous lives, but there were a few I wasn't familiar with.

I did enjoy the book overall, but have two criticisms. First, my book does not have 432 pages in the book...only 391. So did someone not give the right number of pages...or is my book missing a section?

Second, I didn't really like some of the redundant informat
May 02, 2011 Michele rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
I found "Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds", that I own courtesy of goodreads,to be an informative book. It was hard for me at times to get into the book but once I did, I enjoyed it for the most part. Vlad the Impaler I knew a bit about but for me it was a tough read. I know of what Elizabeth"The Bloody Countess" Bathory did so I skipped that chapter altogether because it would be too gruesome for me. Now they all left me shaking my head in disbelief at their shenan ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book caught my eye on the non-fiction shelf at the library. It was quite amusing with stories on some notorious "brates, brutes and bad seeds." Some of the brief bios were on King John of England, Ivan the Terrible, Pauline Boneparte, and Princess Margaret of England. Can't think when I've reported before on a book I didn't finish, but it was due (after nine weeks), so I had to pick and choose a few charactuers. The story of Princess Margaret was of particular interest since I read as a chi ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good fun for the history buff, but I can't really recommend it. The chapters on Ivan the Terrible & the Blood Countess were literally stomach-churning. But most were more breezy. Still, there are better choices for royal historical foibles. Like 'Sex with the King'.
Kelly Obernuefemann
4.5 Very interesting and a fast read. She uses a variety of royals although there are more from England included than others. I just wish she had included something from the Spanish royals. They would have been a better choice than Princess Margaret.
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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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