Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty

In Book Reviews on June 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Royal BabylonBroadway Books 1999

Nutshell blurb: This is a whimsical look at European Royalty throughout the ages. It touched on topics such as inbreeding, adultery and the many quirks and idiosyncrasies of various European royals who were, more often than not, complete nutters.

It was quite interesting to learn about the darker side of these people who affected the lives of so many. When I think of princes, princesses, kings and queens my mind conjures up noble people who are committed to ruling their countries. Obviously, I knew that many of them were corrupt and prone to indulging in their desires, whatever they may be, but I still usually think of them as being very wise. Or at least more intelligent than the average person. As I read this book, it became apparent to me that the majority of historical books that I’ve read have been about events and how people have shaped them rather than ones which look into the personalities of these royals.

A lot of them weren’t very bright. There’s a paragraph in this book which describes a conversation between Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife and the chief eunuch of the harem in Constantinople where she asked him if his father had also been a eunuch.

Madness, syphilis and haemophilia ran rampant throughout the royal families of Europe who were so inbred that most couldn’t hope to avoid some type of related ailment. Their strangest whims had to be indulged at all times.

“…the darkly psychopathic Frederick William I, “the drill master of Europe,” was a dangerous sadist known to posterity for his freakish army of giants and the way he terrorised everyone, including his own children.” He apparently ran through the streets bashing his citizens with a stick and would pay any amount for men to join his army of giants. This resulted in many men over 6 feet tall being abducted and forced into service.

I found this book to be a great resource for inspiration as far as my writing is concerned. It’s also made me want to read more about these people and their exploits as sometimes their antics are stranger than fiction. It would seem that with great responsibility often comes great idiocy. This was a very fun read.

  1. I’ve loaded this book on my Kindle for my upcoming trip to England. Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I have requested this book from my library and I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for posting.

  3. You’ve sold me, I really want to read that =D

  4. I just finished this book. You were right – it’s fascinating. You are left wondering how Europe has lurched along with these royals in charge! My goodness!

    Full of bizarre and unconventional personal info about historic figures, their many illnesses and pecadillos – and also interesting in that it touches on so many social customs, etc., of the past. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Excellent! I’m so glad you liked it. It was a bit jarring the way it jumped all over the place (which I forgot to mention in my post) but it was very entertaining and potentially good for inspiration for future writing projects. Thanks for letting me know your thoughts!

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