The Royal Art of Poison

The Royal Art of Poison : Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicines and Murder Most Foul

3.99 (2,535 ratings by Goodreads)
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The story of poison is the story of power...

For centuries, royal families have feared the gut-roiling, vomit-inducing agony of a little something added to their food or wine by an enemy. To avoid poison, they depended on tasters, unicorn horns and antidotes tested on condemned prisoners. Servants licked the royal family's spoons, tried on their underpants and tested their chamber pots.

Ironically, royals terrified of poison were unknowingly poisoning themselves daily with their cosmetics, medications and filthy living conditions. Women wore makeup made with lead. Men rubbed feces on their bald spots. Physicians prescribed mercury enemas, arsenic skin cream, drinks of lead filings and potions of human fat and skull, fresh from the executioner. Gazing at gorgeous portraits of centuries past, we don't see what lies beneath the royal robes and the stench of unwashed bodies; the lice feasting on private parts; and worms nesting in the intestines.

The Royal Art of Poison is a hugely entertaining work of popular history that traces the use of poison as a political - and cosmetic - tool in the royal courts of Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Kremlin today.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 35mm | 446g
  • Duckworth
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0715653121
  • 9780715653128
  • 518,366

Review quote

'Whether deliberate, accidental or the result of an antidote, the gruesome outcome of ingestion of toxins is deftly described in The Royal Art of Poison. Add political intrigue, disgusting sanitation, ubiquitous filth, horrendous medical procedures, and every sort of vermin and you get a very different picture to what we romantically assume to be the 'good old days.' -- Penny Le Couteur, author of Napoleon's Button 'Herman has a delightful appreciation for all things beautiful and terrible. With her dishy signature style and a dazzling command of the facts, she brews up a heady mix of erudite history and delicious gossip' -- Aja Raden, New York Times bestselling author of Stoned 'Luckily, we have New York Times-bestselling author Eleanor Herman to help us navigate an aspiring widow's bulging cabinet of nasty concoctions with her new book, The Royal Art of Poison. This fantastic work combines morbid curiosity and royal gossip. In it, readers will not only find out about who could've poisoned whom, but also why and with what. Lovers of Tudor history, costume dramas, and high fantasy will rejoice.' * Washington Independent Review of Books, 50 Favourite Books of 2018 * 'Agatha Christie's spirit must be loving this poisonous new historical entertainment.' * The Spectator * 'Reads like juicy historical gossip, looking at the ways royals throughout history have been poisoned - not only by others, but often, unwittingly, by themselves.' * BuzzFeed, 'The Ultimate Book Gift Guide' * 'The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman will, for once in your life, make you happy you are not a princess or a queen or someone who lives in a palace. The book is amazing and really makes me wonder how we've managed to survive. It will make you glad to be in your own home.' * Forbes, 'Books to Travel With for the Holidays' * 'In her gruesome book... Herman explores assassinations and stories of poison... and questions if some stories of death by poison could be inaccurate... truly scary.' * Daily Mail, Book of the Week *
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About Eleanor Herman

Eleanor Herman is known as the "Sherlock Holmes of history" and is the author of several works of popular history including Sex with Kings and Sex with the Queens. She has hosted Lost Worlds for The History Channel and The Madness of Henry VIII for the National Geographic Channel. Herman, who happily dresses in Renaissance gowns any chance she gets, lives with her husband, dog and her four very dignified cats.
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Rating details

2,535 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 30% (758)
4 45% (1,135)
3 21% (538)
2 3% (86)
1 1% (18)
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