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The Queen's Diamonds: The Affair That Launched the Three Musketeers [Paperback]

Roger MacDonald
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2010
Sex, scandal and diamonds history as it s never been told before... In seventeenth century England, everyone is for hire: even the king himself, James I, is a secret pensioner of Spain. James also trades jobs and titles for homosexual favours from ambitious and parasitic Scotsmen who descend on Whitehall, until George Villiers, the future Duke of Buckingham, an irresistibly handsome Englishman, upstages them all to become James s established lover. Buckingham also likes, and perhaps prefers, women. A countess here, a duchess there, even the Spanish prime minister s wife, all serve as appetisers for an unimaginably daring and dangerous main course: Anne of Austria, Queen of France. With a homosexual husband, Louis XIII, who possesses a pathological hatred of women, Anne is looking for love. She finds it in Buckingham, who arrives in person at Paris in 1625. Their affair all but paralyses the French court and turns a potential alliance into a shooting war. Anne makes the almost fatal mistake of giving Buckingham, as a token of her love, a fabulous diamond necklace, only for Louis XIII, prompted by the Queen s enemy, Cardinal Richelieu, to order her to wear it at a royal ball. Lucy Percy, Countess of Carlisle, the Cardinal s secret agent in London and Buckingham s jealous mistress, steals two of the diamonds and takes them to Richelieu. Three Musketeers began a desperate race to England and back to retrieve the necklace from Buckingham. Will they be in time to save the Queen s honour? Oxford historian Roger Macdonald uncovers the true, extraordinary tale of intrigue, sex and revenge that inspired Alexandre Dumas s immortal novel.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge Academic (1 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903499526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903499528
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 900,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Oxford historian (M.A. Hertford College) Roger Macdonald is a member of the University s advisory board on development for the Humanities. His media career began in Fleet Street on the Daily Mail and The Times before he moved to the BBC as a producer and editor for more than twenty years. The Press Association (PA) won its largest ever contract for the provision of electronic news during his period as PA marketing and development director. His previous history book, about the real Man in the Iron Mask, was the central theme of a documentary in The Legend Detectives series made for the Discovery Channel.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, But..... 31 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book by Roger Macdonald isn't really what it says on the blurb. Purportedly the true tale behind Dumas' The Three Musketeers (Wordsworth Classics), that only takes up a small part of the book. I don't know how other historians will react to this book, but in the text the author does give indications that some of the things mentioned are gossip and rumours from the time, as well as some of it being conjecture or circumstantial evidence.

Giving an insight into things before which the story takes place we are taken back to Anne Boleyn and the ancestors of Lucy Percy, or as the author suggests, the real Milady in the Dumas novel. Moving on to the court of James I of England (James VI of Scotland) we are shown how corrupt and sexually charged Whitehall was. With men getting promotion and rank by sleeping with the king, whilst also sleeping with each others wives, Buckingham seems to sleep with anything given a chance. Full of gossip and sexual shannanigans this is like reading a News of the World expose.

Whether you agree with everything written here (I must say that I don't) this is still an enjoyable read that opens history up in a new light, and may get people reading or delving into history themselves. I must say this really brings alive the sort of intrigues that used to go on in royal courts throughout Europe at this period, and is fully illustrated throughout.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spicey Historical Read 8 Nov 2010
By Guy Mannering VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I never realised quite what an unsavoury and repellent character James I was. With his spindly legs, a tongue too large for his mouth, bad breath, unwashed body, a blind eye for the corruption that swirled around him and his penchant for touching up any attractive young guy who passed by you'd have given him a very wide berth if he hadn't been king. But then just about everybody in this titillating trawl through the English and French courts of the early 17th century was pretty unsavoury and repellent and one might add venal, corrupt and promiscuous. The Duke of Buckingham for example, who began life as a commoner, prostituted himself not only to gain the favour of James but also his son, the future Charles I. And when he wasn't busy servicing these two royals he was having alfresco quickies with the Queen of France (whose husband meanwhile was busy eyeing up les garcons.) And yet what a prim lot they all look dressed in their silks, laces and jewels gazing at us from their portraits with the mask of virtue. Still, back-stabbing, pandering, bed-hopping and generally disreputable behaviour was the way you advanced up the slippery pole (some things never change, I suppose.)

The affair of the Queen of France's diamonds that inspired Alexander Dumas to write his Three Musketeers occupies a relatively small portion of the book but when it arrives it has the intrigue and excitement of a racey historical cliff-hanger. In setting the background the author delves back to the reign of Henry VIII and the cast of characters is at times bewilderingly large although, thankfully, a list of the main dramatis personae is provided.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the story behind the story...................... 22 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is the story BEHIND the story of the three musketeers, and a rollicking romp through history it is!! It's the REAL stuff - the stuff they don't teach you in school, but if they did, we'd all pay far more attention to our history lessons!! In a nutshell, it's the story of the naughty Queen Anne of France, and her lover, the very scandalous rogue, the Duke of Buckingham, and HIS many lovers, including Lucy Percy, who was quite infamous herself!! Throw in Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII of France, James I of England and HIS many lovers (male), a sexually confused Prince Charles, and a French and and an English court teeming with intrigue and treachery - and the result is a fascinating insight into a bygone age. When Queen Anne gave the duke a diamond necklace as a gift, she had no idea of the hornets nest she had stirred up. The duke went back to England with the diamonds, and King Louis (with malicious prompting from Richelieu) ordered the Queen to wear the diamonds at a ball. The Queen had to get the diamonds back from the duke, at very short notice. But how? Enter the musketeers of course!
I adore books like this - not the sugar-coated, edited stuff we learn in school, but the facts. These historical figures were just like ourselves, flaws and all. They were sexual beings, they lied, cheated, loved, lived and died, so why can't their TRUE stories be told. If you are someone who likes to get to know the people behind the titles, you'll love this. I did, and recommend it highly.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sex, celebrity and scandal 11 Nov 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you're looking for serious or even semi-serious history with accuracy, precision, up-to-date references and a calibrated sense of the time, then this is definitely one to avoid. Macdonald places himself firmly within the very popular history category with this romp through the love lives of seventeenth century celebrities. This is the kind of book which is a fun read but if any of the personages were alive today would be up in front of a libel tribunal immediately.

Macdonald may have an Oxford MA (in history?) but his career has been spent on Fleet Street, the BBC and with a programme made for the Discovery Channel - and that pedigree shows. So the book assumes that all the gossip, scandal and invective of the seventeenth century was true and historical fact, even quoting from a pamphlet that wasn't written until 1715, almost a hundred years after the events of the book. The book also (bizarrely) uses Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl and Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall as support for its own arguments, almost implicitly placing itself into the fictional category.

With no evidence the text presumes to know almost exactly what people got up to in the privacy of their own beds and reports that each of Buckingham's social elevations was the result of giving in to James' deeper sexual demands. Characters are delineated with a very broad and sweeping brush, so Henry VIII is a psychopath, James I is a corrupt and smelly sexual tyrant (this is also the man, let's not forget, who gave us the King James' authorised edition of the bible), and Lucy Percy a whore.

In describing James' person the book omits to mention that no-one in the sixteenth century was much of a fan of personal hygiene.
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