Royal Babylon by Karl Shaw
The Alarming History of European Royalty

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Synopsis

An uproarious, eye-opening history of Europe's notorious royal houses that leaves no throne unturned and will make you glad you live in a democracy.

Do you want to know which queen has the unique distinction of being the only known royal kleptomaniac? Or which empress kept her dirty underwear under lock and key? Or which czar, upon discovering his wife's infidelity, had her lover decapitated and the head, pickled in a jar, placed at her bedside?

Royally dishing on hundreds of years of dubious behavior, Royal Babylon chronicles the manifold appalling antics of Europe's famous families, behavior that rivals the characters in an Aaron Spelling television series. Here, then, are the insane kings of Spain, one of whom liked to wear sixteen pairs of gloves at one time; the psychopathic Prussian soverigns who included Frederick William and his 102-inch waist; sex-fixated French rulers such as Philip Duke D'Oreleans cavorting with more than a hundred mistresses; and, of course, the delightfully drunken and debauched Russian czars - Czar Paul, for example, who to make his soldiers goose-step without bending their legs had steel plates strapped to their knees. But whether Romanov or Windsor, Habsburg or Hanover, these extravagant lifestyles, financed as they were by the royals' badgered subjects, bred the most wonderfully offbeat and disturbingly unbelievable tales - and Karl Shaw has collected them all in this hysterically funny and compulsively readable book.

Royal Babylon is history, but not as they teach it in school, and it underlines in side-splitting fashion Queen Victoria's famous warning that it is unwise to look too deeply into the royal houses of Europe.
 

About Karl Shaw

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Shaw is also the author of The Encyclopedia of Lies and Utter Fibs.
 
Published May 7, 2002 by Three Rivers Press. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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“Every monarchy in Europe,” he writes, “has at some time or another been ruled over by a madman, although Bavaria alone had the good fortune to have a king crazy enough to remain marketable as a tourist attraction more than a century after his death.” Among his exhibits are the Braganzas of Portu...

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Entertaining overall, many entries are indisputably not for the faint of heart, such as the truly gross story of Russia's Peter the Great (" 'Great' was generally a recognition of power or brute strength, no matter how they lived, how many people they had killed or how repulsive they were"), desc...

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