"It isn't often that one encounters a book that invites the reëmergence of childhood fantasies, then eviscerates them in a few words. Even less common is the book that manages to make the process utterly satisfying. Such is the rush I got from Kris Waldherr's deliciously perverse Doomed Queens.... Doomed Queens is also a concise, humorous, and keenly observed history of women and power."--The New Yorker
"If you need an antidote to the Disney-fied princess culture popular among young girls today, this dishy, irreverent book is it."--Atlanta Journal Constitution
"A smart, sassy overview of the 'dark side' of the crown and scepter. It makes a girl glad she was born a commoner."
--Robin Maxwell, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Boleyn
"A fascinating journey through thousands of years of the world's most dangerous job -- being queen!"
--Eleanor Herman, author of Sex with the Queen
From the Author
Welcome to your favorite dream--and worst nightmare. You are cosseted in silk, crowned with gold, and bowed to. Courtiers laugh at your jokes and compliment your beauty, even when you know you're having a bad hair day. All envy you, but things change. Just years later, even those who admired you steer clear of your path.
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Your influence is on the wane for any number of reasons. The fault could be yours--maybe you weren't as clever as you thought in the scheming department. Or it could be that others are scheming against you. When the end finally comes, it arrives with the stroke of an ax at noon-- a topsy-turvy Cinderella tale--or with a drumrolled march to the scaffold. The battlefield may provide you with a convenient grave. Or you might lose your crown as you labor to bring forth an heir to the kingdom. Biology becomes destiny. Best case scenario: You will survive a coup and be allowed to live out your days in awkward exile, where opportunistic stragglers will still suck up to your royal majesty, just in case.
No matter how your end finally arrives, one truth remains: Your fall from grace is not your call, though your actions may encourage it. It is your fate. After all, you are a doomed queen--and, if one is to go by the lessons of history, the only good queen is a dead one.
For too many royal women throughout history, the scenario I've sketched here was their dark reality. The members of the doomed queens club--a club I suspect few would care to join--are legion, stretching from biblical times to the present day. Their names range from the infamous--Cleopatra, Anne Boleyn, Marie Antoinette--to those whose deaths are hidden within footnotes, such as Blanche of Bourbon and Thessalonike.
Within Doomed Queens I've presented fifty of these lives from around the globe and throughout the ages. While each queen's final destiny may differ, one fact remains consistent: Despite the perks of royalty, it's usually not good to be the queen.
Remember, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. May you read and beware.
My very best,