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Why Was Queen Victoria Such a Prude?: …and other historical myths and follies Paperback – 26 Jan 2013
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About the Author
David Haviland is a bestselling writer, with a passion for obscure trivia and anecdotes, particularly on the subjects of history, medicine, animals, and sports. His previous books include ‘Self-Harming Parrots and Exploding Toads’ and ‘How to Remove a Brain’.
Top customer reviews
It is a compilation of fascinating tales from all over the world, but mainly from England and Europe, and in it you can find the answers to many mysteries such as – Who was Aguirre God of Wrath? – What was the Ground Nut War? – How was Archduke Ferdinand assassinated ? – Why did we have a drugs war with China? – Why did the Amada fail? It also explains who were the Cathars, the Carolingians, the Frankish Knights, and what the Holy Roman Empire and the Crusaders were all about.
An amazing piece of research, it’s the kind of book hey should give out in history classes in schools, instead of the ones I remember having to grind through. So what if a few of the particulars might be debatable – it instils interest, curiosity and excitement, and no one can fail to feel they have gained something. It is written with great humour, and it brims with fascinating and highly salacious tales of extraordinary goings that I had never heard about. Who ever heard of King Pippin and his most unbrotherly relationship with his brother – and who knew about the weird goings on in Sparta? (I’d never come across the word phemistic before!)
Above all, this is the sort of book you can dip into whenever you’re in need of a few moments entertainment, as every section is full of riveting stories – some that make your toes curl, and some that make you chortle.
Did you know that the wine label Chateau Neuf du Pape was derived from the pope’s new stately home during the Avignon papacy or that a papal bull excommunicated anyone taking the supposed sexual stimulant snuff – or indeed that Samantha Cameron is descended from Nell Gwynn?
If one tale does not take your fancy and, say, your tastes are more royalist than classicist, then there is always another curiosity a couple of pages along that hits the spot - such is the eclectic nature of this collection of historical follies.
It’s all written with effortless erudition and a dry wit, although the author might reconsider the view that Prince Albert died after he” travelled to Ireland to admonish his son” (most historians say they met at Cambridge) and that “Sandringham House was bought by Queen Victoria for her son” (according to many authoritative sources Bertie paid for it himself although she may made a small contribution).
But regardless of the odd quibble, “Why was Queen Victoria such a prude?” is a perfect present for the curious child in all of us.