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Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  3,719 Ratings  ·  365 Reviews
In royal courts bristling with testosterone—swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals—how did repressed regal ladies find happiness?

Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded.

Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young fav
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by William Morrow (first published 2005)
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I hemmed and hawed over Eleanor Herman's "Sex with Kings", mainly because I really couldn't say much about historical accuracy without doing a ton of research. Or so I thought. Simply googling one of the queens featured in "Sex with the Queen" proved my suspicions of Herman's shoddy research and fact-bending correct. Then I looked at her bibliography, a detail I forgot in my last review, and... well.

The two stars here are, again, for Herman's nice prose and good selection. I definitely want to w
May 08, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-europe
My new hero is Marguerite-Louise of France, Grand Duchess of Tuscany. The Duchess found herself made to Cosimo de Medici in 1661. She didn't like him; it's easy to understand way. He was that Cosimo de Medici after all. They both had affairs. After the death of her father-in-law, Marguerite demanded to be allowed back to France where she could have fun. She finally was, and then put into a convent. She went out and partied anyway. The king got a new prioress who said no, no. Marguerite said yeah ...more
Dec 23, 2007 Meri rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, europe
This book provides an interesting hook to tell 900 years of European aristocratic history. Adultery with queens was far more sensational than the routine indiscretions of kings. It came in several different forms, from powerful ruling queens who openly took several lovers at a time to consorts who were beheaded for one (falsified) indiscretion. Over all, a worthy peek into a side of history that you don't often learn in high school. Eleanor Herman has a knack for catchy and imaginative depiction ...more
"Sex with the Queen" by Eleanor Herman reminded me a lot of "Notorious Royal Marriages" by Leslie Carroll, a book I read last year and also loved. It's all about various queens throughout history and their adulterous affairs, going in-depth as to backgrounds and explanations of why a royal woman might feel compelled to take a lover.

This book's style is sort of "gossipy", but I didn't mind that. It's not a total "Seventeen Magazine" gossip column that gushes and seems entirely made up of unfound
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 Ana Mardoll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Sex with the Queen / 978-0-061-75156-1

"Sex with the Queen" is an absolutely delightful romp through the sexual affairs and extramarital conduct of European queens and princesses. Author Eleanor Herman is clearly skilled and starts with a strong, clear look at life as a European princess and with the understanding that such a life was hardly a rose garden for most of the women involved. After carefully providing the reader with a close and deeply fascinating look at daily royal life throughout Eu
Sep 09, 2010 veronica rated it it was ok
Most of this book is definitely written much better in comparison with its mate, "Sex With Kings." However, the entire thing read like it had foregone an editor -- from chapter lengths to paragraphs to (seriously) incomplete sentences, at times several on one page, this book was wrought with technical issues, or, most likely, just bad writing. I am sorry to say that. Bad writing can make or break a non-fiction book, and in this case, it completely broke it. I couldn't even tell what I was readin ...more
Mandy Moody
Apr 06, 2011 Mandy Moody rated it did not like it
This is actually a DNF for me :(
The format drove be crazy - everything seemed to be a "summary" - I kept waiting for the actual book to begin, but it never did.
There is, of course, a scarcity of information when it comes to the affairs of queens. Unlike Kings, Queens were expected to be virtuous, so their affairs were well hidden. Still, a good number of these accounts seem to be supposition of the time - an unreliable source in my opinion! Perhaps without using these stories Herman didn't have
Jan 13, 2013 Aoi rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
"Sex with the Queen" is meant to be racy "airing of dirty laundry" read. Unfortunately the author seems to have foregone with an editor- the script lacks any sort of coherency, jumping from one era to another; one country to another.

I had expected a witty anecdotal book- it starts humorously enough, recounting the story about a King who had to be carried all the way to his bedchamber to consummate his marriage. I enjoyed reading about some of the misadventures of the lesser known kings & qu
Jan 13, 2015 Elle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
เลมนีคงถือวาเปน non-fiction สำหรับเราขอเรียกวา side-story ของประวัติศาสตร
ในฐานะคนทีชอบอาน historical romance เรืองนีไดมาเสริมแตงหลายจุดทีเรายังไมรูและนึกไมคอยถึง และ หนังสือ historical romance ทีเราเคยอาน กไมคอยมีเจาชาย เจาหญิงมากนัก
เรียกไดวา ไดเปิดโลกทัศนมากทีเดียว...
แมวา เรืองราวของเจาหญิง ควีน ในยุคกอนๆ ในหนาตนๆกลางๆ จะทำใหเราแปลกใจเปนการปูพืนมากอนแลว ไมสามารถชวยอะไรเราไดเลยในกรณีเจาหญิงองคสุดทาย เจาหญิงไดอานา...
ในฐานะคนทีเกิดไมทัน เคยแตอานการตูนชุดบุคคลสำคัญของโลก เจาหญิงในใจเรา เปนเจาหญิงแส
Mar 18, 2012 Sue rated it really liked it
Shelves: royalty
A for effort, but F for format. Very difficult to follow who these people were when the story is so disjointed.

Lost interest around page 60 because we were going over the same people over and over, for different reasons.

Good details and juicy tidbits. One error found (page 51): there was no EMPRESS Sophie of Russia. She was the Regent (guardian of Ivan), half brother of Peter (the Great). Ivan died, Peter took over and Sophie was sent to a monastery after trying to overthrow him with the Boyars
Mar 18, 2009 Melody rated it liked it
Silly, salacious and about as meaningful as People Magazine, this book is compulsively readable. It's well-written, engaging and pruriently interesting. It appeals to all of the same trash receptors in one's brain that fuel the National Enquirer, Star and the other weekly mags featuring vapid celebrities. The big difference is that the vapid celebrities in the book are royal and dead. A fun read nonetheless.
Aj Sterkel
Mar 27, 2017 Aj Sterkel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book does exactly what it says on the cover. The author chronicles 900 years of queenly affairs and marriages gone horribly wrong. The book mostly focuses on European royalty. It may also make you rethink your childhood desire to become a princess . . .

“When Marguerite caught malaria, she claimed the royal family of Tuscany was trying to murder her, but that she would, in fact, rather die than return to her husband. Louis XIV asked the pope to threaten excommunication if Marguerite persiste
In royal courts bristling with testosterone--swashbuckling generals, polished courtiers, and virile cardinals--how did repressed regal ladies find happiness?

- Anne Boleyn flirted with courtiers; Catherine Howard slept with one. Henry VIII had both of them beheaded.
- Catherine the Great had her idiot husband murdered and ruled the Russian empire with a long list of sexy young favorites.
- Marie Antoinette fell in love with the handsome Swedish count Axel Fersen, who tried valiantly to rescue he
Jan 14, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
The title sounds quite tawdry, but the book itself is far from a Harlequin Romance. It takes a look at what life was like for a queen, from Medieval Times through Queen Victoria’s reign. Most marriages were for political gain, where a daughter was bartered off to a husband that was disinterested, cruel, insane or homosexual. And a queen consort couldn’t necessarily distract herself from a loveless marriage through the opulence of court life - - castles were often cold, dark and rodent infested a ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Adrienne rated it really liked it
My lil' sis gave me this one. It's basically about various queens love affairs. The chapter on Marie Antoinette and Fersen, which was sufficiently romantic for my sensibilities, having been raised on BeruBara.

I have learned though, that while it may have been good to be the King (and even that's really debatable: The last King I read about was pretty much tortured into insanity by his tutors in their attempts to make him a 'real man') it was not good to be the Queen. Married off in your early te
This was not without flaws. There were parts where I cringed or questioned the way Herman phrased particular things. You could tell that some of the information was heavily colored by Herman's opinions or interpretations. Despite these flaws I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was much better structured than her previous book. I wish it had included more than European royalty but it did include a wider geographic base than the previous book as well. Also, in places it had me laughing out loud ...more
Dec 09, 2011 Teresa rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating. It was a very thorough look at monarchies all over the world in a very long time span and it was incredibly well researched. Although there were parts that were pure speculation it really gave an interesting account of what the lives of these women were like. Being essentially sold off to another country sight unseen and where half the time they didn't even speak the language, the political slavery they lived in was incredible. It defintiely dispels any fantasy I may h ...more
Nov 15, 2007 Meaghan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: royal history buffs
A history of European queens and their lovers, this is a very worthy companion to Herman's other book, Sex with Kings, a history of European kings and their mistresses. It was engagingly written, well-researched and full of titillating details. Even people who normally don't go for history will enjoy this. I highly recommend!
Sarah M
Apr 28, 2009 Sarah M rated it liked it
If you are into gossip and supermarket tabloids why not learn something while getting your fix? Brimming with historic royal scandal and intrigue, it's hard to put down. From a feminist point of view it's also nice to know that even back in the day not all women took it lying down!
May 22, 2008 Kristy rated it liked it
After Th Other Boelyn Girl, I was craving some more historical raunch! This is non-fiction, and reminds me of my old AP Euro Hist teacher who delighted in telling Catholic school HS girls scandalous sex tales of renaissance clergy & royals.
Mar 14, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Fascinating look into the lives of European princesses and queens forced into loveless marriages.
Jun 21, 2012 Rose rated it really liked it
Entertaining and with some stories I hadn't previously heard, however there was too many 'she needed a strong man to take her forcefully' type comments.
Jessica T.
Sep 11, 2015 Jessica T. rated it really liked it
Can't go wrong with sex and history...
Jan 15, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it
Really excellent writing and fascinating material. Herman did a great job of humanizing historical figures and making them compelling without inundating the reader with too many dusty facts.
Aug 04, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
"Princesses were raised to be devout, obedient, and faithful. When sent to meet their new husbands, they set off with every intention of retaining these vital qualities in their new lives. What happened over the years that made so many of them lose their religion, their obedience, and their fidelity?"

That is the first paragraph of Sex with the Queen, a book that travels through 900 years of adulterous relationships, and the heartbreaking stories of the queens other lovers. Starting with Eleanor
Lenora Good
Oct 30, 2014 Lenora Good rated it it was amazing
How come history wasn't this much fun when I was in school? Queens were rarely, if ever, mentioned—it was all about the Kings, the men, the knights, the male of the species. Only now and then were the females of the species mentioned, and usually because they died rather out of sorts. Marie Antoinette, the stupid little twit who uttered the famous phrase, "Let them eat cake." And the innocent Anne Boleyn. Catherine the Great who brought Russia into the then modern age—and a slew of lovers into h ...more
Sep 06, 2012 Rusalka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rusalka by: Sarah SS
Mini Review to catch up on all my unreviewed reads from 2014. Always happy to chat more the book below if any one wants more info.

If you want to learn about royal history across Europe, over hundreds of years, this book and it's predecessor Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge, are the books for you.

I really enjoy this author. She has a way of taking history and making it fun. A lot of that is through her writing and prose, it's
Sep 14, 2014 Deborah rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2010 Linda rated it it was ok
I don't usually read non-fiction but my book group picked this book and I'm the leader so I forced myself through it.

The introduction was most interesting with the info about living in the courts and palaces. Shocking to find out what life was really like (men peeing in the hallways and bugs everywhere!)

The book itself was hard to get through. Some of the stories were more interesting than others but overall depressing. We all have the fantasy that being the Queen would be the best life but most
Jan 26, 2011 Marissa rated it liked it
This is a quick and fun read, less serious than most histories but it's supposed to be like that. I read this book as part of a GR group and I must admit that my opinion is a little changed after I read some of their experiences. A few couldn't even bring themselves to finish the book because it just was not as captivating of the author's previous novel, Sex with the King.

As much as it pains me to admit, the sex lives of European queens just is NOT as fascinating as the sex lives of their husba
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New York Times best-seller Eleanor Herman offers a rare combination of skills for a historian – her research is intensely scholarly, yet she writes the story in a colorful, witty manner.

“History is so fascinating that it never has to be presented in a boring way,” she explains. “These were flesh and blood people, just like you and me, facing war and plague, falling in love, living among splendid a
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“Yet she (Princess Diana) suffered one ancient lament of many princess brides--- her husband didn't love her, hadn't wanted to marry her, rarely slept with her, and far prefered his mistress.” 0 likes
“The unattainable was most desireable. The already attained was dull.” 0 likes
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