The Royal Art of Poison: Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, Filthy Palaces, and Murder Most Foul
The story of poison is the story of power. For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns, and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family’s spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.
Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications, and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with mercury and lead. Men rubbed turds on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings, and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. The most gorgeous palaces were little better than filthy latrines. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don’t see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.
In The Royal Art of Poison, Eleanor Herman combines her unique access to royal archives with cutting-edge forensic discoveries to tell the true story of Europe’s glittering palaces: one of medical bafflement, poisonous cosmetics, ever-present excrement, festering natural illness, and, sometimes, murder.
The King’s Pearl: Henry VIII and His Daughter Mary
Hardcover – 1 June 2018 (US)
Mary Tudor has always been known as “Bloody Mary,” the name given to her by later Protestant writers who vilified her for attempting to re-impose Roman Catholicism in England. Although a more nuanced picture of Mary has since emerged, she is still surrounded by stereotypes, depicted as a tragic and lonely figure, personally and politically isolated after the annulment of her parents’ marriage and rescued from obscurity only through the good offices of Katherine Parr. Although Henry doted on Mary as a child and called her his “pearl of the world,” her determination to side with her mother over the annulment both hurt him as a father and damaged perceptions of him as a monarch commanding unhesitating obedience. However, once Mary had been pressured into compliance Henry reverted to being a loving father and Mary played an important role in court life.
La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, a Life in Letters
Mary’s childhood was overshadowed by the men in her life—her father, Henry VII, and her brothers Arthur and Henry VIII. These men and the beliefs held about women at the time helped to shape Mary’s life. She was trained to be a dutiful wife and at the age of 18 Mary married the French king Louis XII, 34 years her senior. Her husband died three months later. As a young widow Mary blossomed, this was the opportunity to show the world the strong, self-willed, determined woman she always had been. She remarried for love and at great personal risk. She loved and respected Catherine of Aragon and despised Anne Boleyn—a dangerous position to take up. Author Sarah Bryson has returned to primary sources, state papers and letters, to unearth the truth about this intelligent and passionate woman.
Princess: The Early Life of Queen Elizabeth II
In November 2017 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. As a 13-year-old Princess, she fell in love with Prince Philip of Greece, an ambitious naval cadet, and they married when she was 21; when she suddenly became Queen at 25, their lives changed forever. Philip has been her great support, but fortunately she also had a solid foundation that helped prepare her for a life dedicated to duty. With previously unpublished material and unique memories from friends and relatives who have known her since childhood, this book looks afresh and in richer depth at her life as Princess, glittering yet isolating. Vivid detail and anecdotes reveal more about her, the era in which she grew up and the people who shaped her life. The archives of royal confidante Lady Desborough and Private Secretary Sir Alec Hardinge reveal unseen letters from the Princess and the royal family, giving intimate insights into their lives and minds. Here is her sadness at the death of her nanny, Alah; her joy in her children; her melancholy as a young wife when Philip returns to his ship; the sensitivities of her father.
Here too is the Princess with the aristocratic Bowes Lyons, her mother’s family, who featured significantly in her life, yet rarely appear in books. The author sheds new light on anomalies surrounding the birth of her mother who, it has been asserted, was the daughter of the family’s cook. The strain of wartime on the royal family is highlighted in new material contrasting the stance of the Princess’s uncles, the Duke of Windsor and David Bowes Lyon. In contrast with her upbringing, Philip’s early life was turbulent, although their lives shared some interesting parallels. Lady Butter, a relation of Philip and friend of the Princess, recalls time spent with each of them; and unpublished documents show how intelligence agencies considered the socialist influence of the Mountbattens on Philip and thus on the royal court.
More importantly, Princess traces how an “ordinary country girl” suddenly found herself in the line of succession to the crown at age ten when her Uncle, the Duke of Windsor, abdicated the throne to his brother Albert (“Bertie” to family and friends), the once and future King George VI. Breaking new ground for a future English monarch, she became the first female member of the royal family to serve on active duty during World War II, and broke tradition by sending her children away to school rather having them privately tutored. Indeed, by the time of her coronation in 1953, she had already achieved a “broad and solid background from which she could draw during the rapidly changing times of her long reign. Out of a little princess they made a Queen.”
Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa: The Overlooked Royal Couple (Crown)
Frederik VIII reigned for only six years, from 1906 until 1912. He and Lovisa spent four decades as Crown Prince and Crown Princess, and this presented them with some special challenges, not least as regards their relationship with the rest of the royal family, which was strained. In several ways Frederik and Lovisa were individuals whose behaviour was at odds with previously existing patterns, and neither the Danish royal family nor the public always viewed this in a positive light. In his efforts to meet the populace on its own terms, Frederik VIII became too folksy in the eyes of many contemporary Danes.
Christian X and Queen Alexandrine: Royal Couple Through the World Wars (Crown)
Christian X and Queen Alexandrine were Denmark’s royal couple from 1912 to 1947. They reigned during a period in which the world was dramatically changed; two world wars and serious economic crises left their mark on their reign and contributed to the royal couple’s great significance as a centre around which the nation could gather. During the same period, the role of the monarchy was fundamentally changed; the Danish monarchy found its place in a modern parliamentary democracy, and following the advent of modern mass media the royal couple became a public presence.
Christian IX and Queen Louise: Europe’s Parents-In-Law (Crown)
Christian IX and Queen Louise were the first couple of the Glucksburg line on the Danish throne. They had a difficult beginning, as they ascended the throne in 1863, immediately prior to the military defeat by Prussia and Austria in 1864. However, they eventually became popular with the Danish people, not least because they secured such advantageous marriages for their six children that already in their own day they were known as “Europe’s parents-in-law.” Today there are not many European royals who are not descendants of Christian IX and Queen Louise, who died in 1906 and 1898 respectively. This book is part of the Crown Series, a series of small books on the Danish monarchy and related subjects published in cooperation with the Royal Danish Collection.
Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid: The Modern Royal Couple (Crown)
Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid were the Danish royal couple from 1947 until 1972, when King Frederik died and was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Queen Margrethe II. In contrast to his predecessors, Frederik IX was seen as a man of the people, and thanks to the influence of Queen Ingrid he endowed his reign with kingly dignity. Together they modernized the Danish monarchy and came to symbolize an exemplary modern Danish nuclear family. They mastered the art of being both popular and royal in a time in which handling of the media became increasingly important for the monarchy.
Power, Splendour, and Diamonds: Denmark’s Regalia and Crown Jewels (Crown Series)
The foremost symbols of the Kingdom of Denmark—the crown, the sceptre, and the orb—have been kept at Rosenborg Castle since the 1680s. Here one can also see a number of the monarchy’s other central objects: the baptismal font that has been used by the royal family since the 17th century, the silver lions as well as the collection of crown jewels founded by Queen Sophie Magdalene in the mid-18th century, which is still used by the Queen on major occasions.
Amalienborg and Frederiksstaden: The Palace and the Royal Quarter (Crown Series)
This book tells the story of Amalienborg and Frederiksstaden and the royal residents of the palace over the centuries.
Amalienborg’s palace square constitutes the central square of the monumental quarter of Frederiksstaden, which Frederik V had built starting in about 1750. The four palaces of the nobility that make up the palace complex were built simultaneously, but were taken over by the royal family after Christiansborg Palace burned down in 1794. Since 1920 Amalienborg has been the permanent residence of the Danish monarchy.
Bloody Mary: Tudor Terror, 1553-1558 (A History of Terror)
When Mary Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VIII, succeeded to the throne of England in 1553 it was with wild rejoicing and a degree of popularity rarely seen on the accession of a British monarch. Yet at her death five years later she was almost universally reviled and hated by her people so much so that she was posthumously awarded the sobriquet Bloody Mary. Mary’s revenge on the church and on a religion she hated was swift and total. Noblemen like the Duke of Northumberland, would-be queens like Lady Jane Grey, churchmen like Thomas Cranmer and bishops Latimer and Ridley, Mary’s fires or the executioner’s axe ended the lives of all of them. During her brief reign she restored the Catholic faith to England and had over 280 Protestant martyrs burned at the stake. For a reign that looked so promising Mary’s brief period in power brought the greatest officially sanctioned religious bloodletting the country had ever seen. And at the end, the stench of the execution fires and the grey smoke that settled like a pall across the country seemed to epitomize the reactionary forces that had assumed control.
To Free the Romanovs: Royal Kinship and Betrayal 1917-1919
King George V’s role in the withdrawal of an asylum offer was covered up. Britain refused to allow any Grand Dukes to come to England, a fact that is rarely explored.
When Russia erupted into revolution, almost overnight the pampered lifestyle of the Imperial family vanished. Within months many of them were under arrest and they became ‘enemies of the Revolution and the Russian people’. All showed great fortitude and courage during adversity. None of them wanted to leave Russia; they expected to be back on their estates soon and to live as before. When it became obvious that this was not going to happen a few managed to flee but others became dependent on their foreign relatives for help.
For those who failed to escape, the questions remain. Why did they fail? What did their relatives do to help them? Were lives sacrificed to save other European thrones? After thirty-five years researching and writing about the Romanovs, Coryne Hall considers the end of the 300-year-old dynasty ‒ and the guilt of the royal families in Europe over the Romanovs’ bloody end. Did the Kaiser do enough? Did George V? When the Tsar’s cousins King Haakon of Norway and King Christian of Denmark heard of Nicholas’s abdication, what did they do? Unpublished diaries of the Tsar’s cousin Grand Duke Dmitri give a new insight to the Romanovs’ feelings about George V’s involvement.
The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran (International Edition)
In this remarkably human portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most complicated personalities, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Andrew Scott Cooper traces the Shah’s life from childhood through his ascension to the throne in 1941. He draws the turbulence of the post-war era during which the Shah survived assassination attempts and coup plots to build a modern, pro-Western state and launch Iran onto the world stage as one of the world’s top five powers.
Readers get the story of the Shah’s political career alongside the story of his courtship and marriage to Farah Diba, who became a power in her own right, the beloved family they created, and an exclusive look at life inside the palace during the Iranian Revolution. Cooper’s investigative account ultimately delivers the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; US Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; even Empress Farah herself, and the rest of the Iranian Imperial family.
Intimate and sweeping at once, The Fall of Heaven recreates in stunning detail the dramatic and final days of one of the world’s most legendary ruling families, the unseating of which helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.
Queen Elizabeth II: A Celebration of her Life and Reign
Written by the former ITV News Royal Editor, Tim Ewart, this beautifully illustrated book looks at the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history. Unique in containing over 100 images, many of which are from the Royal Archives, this fascinating book looks at the Queen’s reign, which has seen some of the most remarkable events in the history of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. During this time, Her Majesty has maintained traditions that link the United Kingdom of today with a history that stretches back over more than a thousand years. From royal tours to state visits, and from day-to-day engagements to notable family events and grand occasions – such as Trooping the Colour – Queen Elizabeth II is a delightful celebration of this historical figure.
The Queen’s Marriage
In this new book royal historian Lady Colin Campbell covers The Queen’s Marriage in intimate detail. Using her connections and impeccable sources she recounts details of the inside story of the monarch’s relationship with the Duke of Edinburgh and her close family.
Elizabeth II (Penguin Monarchs): The Steadfast
Elizabeth II is the longest-serving monarch who ever sat on the English or British throne. Yet her personality and influence remain elusive. This book, by a senior politician who has spent significant periods of time in her company, and is also a distinguished historian, portrays her more credibly than any other yet published.
William III & Mary II (Penguin Monarchs): Partners in Revolution
The acclaimed Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England’s rulers – now in paperback
William III (1689-1702) & Mary II (1689-94) (Britain’s only ever ‘joint monarchs’) changed the course of the entire country’s history, coming to power through a coup (which involved Mary betraying her own father), reestablishing parliament on a new footing and, through commiting Britain to fighting France, initiating an immensely long period of warfare and colonial expansion.
Victoria (Penguin Monarchs): Queen, Matriarch, Empress
Queen Victoria inherited the throne at 18 and went on to become the longest-reigning female monarch in history, in a time of intense industrial, cultural, political, scientific and military change within the United Kingdom and great imperial expansion outside of it (she was made Empress of India in 1876). Overturning the established picture of the dour old lady, this is a fresh and engaging portrait from one of our most talented royal biographers.
Mary I (Penguin Monarchs): The Daughter of Time
The elder daughter of Henry VIII, Mary I (1553-58) became England’s ruler on the unexpected death of her brother Edward VI. Her short reign is one of the great potential turning points in the country’s history. As a convinced Catholic and the wife of Philip II, king of Spain and the most powerful of all European monarchs, Mary could have completely changed her country’s orbit, making it a province of the Habsburg Empire and obedient again to Rome.
Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret
She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando clam up. She cold-shouldered Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine and Pablo Picasso lusted over her. To her friends Princess Margaret was witty and regal, to her enemies, she was rude and demanding. Ma’am Darling looks at her from many angles, creating a kaleidoscopic biography, and a witty meditation on fame and art, snobbery and deference, bohemia and high society.