The royal European courts were unsurpassed for their glamour, wealth, fame, danger, treachery, and politics. The royal mistress was at the center of that world -- admired for her beauty and sensuality; feared for the power she wielded; even vilified, envied, and resented. In times when women had very little power, the royal mistress had enormous influence, and yet she is seldom mentioned in official histories.
In Cupid and the King, Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent recounts the stories of five very different women, each of whom became a celebrated -- or notorious -- courtesan:
Nell Gwyn, the bawdy, vivacious orange seller turned actress who endeared herself to Charles II -- and the country -- with her wit and down-to-earth manner
Madame de Pompadour, the extravagant, elegant maitresse-en-titre of Louis XV who became one of the great patrons of her time while enraging the people of France
Marie Walewska, who became Napoleon's mistress to save her country
Lola Montez, the flamboyant, scandalous Irish beauty who reinvented herself as a Spanish aristocrat to win the heart of Ludwig I of Bavaria
Lillie Langtry, the legendary beauty immortalized by the most famous artists of her day and the only woman to completely monopolize Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII
Written with an insider's keen understanding of court life and filled with delicious details born of impeccable research, Cupid and the King explores a little-known chapter of the history of women's roles in the royal bedrooms of Europe.
Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent is the author of two previous books, Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides and Cupid and the King: Five Royal Paramours. For more than ten years, the Princess has pursued a successful career lecturing on historical topics. She lives with her husband, Prince Michael of Kent, in Kensington Palace in London and in their seventeenth-century manor house in Gloucestershire, England.