Jiri Louda's family trees of European Royalty and Michael Maclagan's informative potted histories are a useful guide to a complex and often baffling subject. Although not entirely without errors, the tables cover all the reigning houses of modern Europe, except Liechtenstein, and all the major houses which have been deposed. Descents cover up to 1000 years of history, and care has been taken to show the near-incestuous relationships of the subjects as clearly as is reasonably possible. Those who, like me, find it difficult to interpret traditional text-based family records will find the family trees, illustrated with colourful heraldry, much more accessible. Major figures have their 'huit-quartiers' mapped out - all their great-grandparents identified, with appropriate shields. There are also thematic trees, showing vicious purges or remarkable relationships. Michael Maclagan, who died recently, wrote the short histories which accompany the charts. Covering personalities, politics and heraldry, they provide a handy guide to the sometimes very involved history of Europe. Pre-unification Spain gets a long chapter, as does Scotland. There's also a neat bit of bubble-bursting when Maclagan observes that almost anyone with European ancestors is likely to be descended from William the Conqueror - or from his groom, for that matter.
For anybody interested in the genealogies of the European royal families, this is a must own. The genealogical tables are clear and easy to read and understand, and surprisingly comprehensive for such a monumental work. The heraldic badges included on the family trees also bring the book to life and add a bit of interest to the tables. The discussion on the practice and use of heraldry is a bonus, although I bought the book for the genealogy. Accompanying the genealogies are brief histories of the royal families, which are a good addition.