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Royal Inbreeding and Other Maladies (Hardback)

A History of Royal Intermarriage and its Consequences

P&S History > British History P&S History > Royal History World History

By Juliana Cummings
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 30 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399012195
Published: 10th April 2024



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When we think of kings and queens, we conjure up illusions of a magnificent kingdom where His and Her Majesties live in the lap of luxury and want for nothing. While this may be true, life wasn’t always as perfect.

With the history of royal families comes a long and twisted history of genetics and family intermarriage that is often swept aside.

In Ms Cummings' latest book, she takes us through the complicated spider’s web of royal marriages. She tells us of the atrocities of the Ptolemy Dynasty as they continued to marry brothers and sisters to fend off political outsiders. She tells us about the centuries of intermarriage in European’s most prominent royal family, along with the devastating results that came with it.

We will learn of the devastation of mental illness that befell reigning monarchs of The Hundred Years War and plagued George III of England, Juana of Castile and the Wittlebach Empire. She will also tell us of the desperation that fell upon the Russian Royal Family as their only heir to the throne grew ill with haemophilia. She will also go into depth about the notorious Hapsburgs, the decades of physical and mental ailments that tormented them, and how their empire ended with the most inbred royal in history, Charles II of Spain.

After hearing the heartwrenching stories of these great monarchs, you’ll find that you can’t help but sympathize with them as you read about how genetics was the ultimate game-changer in most families.

"Royal Inbreeding and Other Maladies" stands out for its ability to captivate readers with its engaging narrative and meticulous research into the complexities of royal genetics. The book's cover art is striking and sets the tone for the compelling stories that lie within its pages.

NetGalley, The Sassy Bookworm

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

In this fascinating and mildly horrifying history book, Juliana Cummings introduces readers to the history of royal inbreeding in Europe and Egypt since ancient times through the twentieth century. This book, with its detail, primary documents, and mildly disturbing historical biographies and medical jargon, is truly impossible to put down or look away from. Full of detail, the case studies which Cummings explores in this novel are horrifying yet fascinating, and she treats this subject with academic respect, which is incredibly admirable. The depth of research in this book is apparent in every page, and the length is easily manageable for readers of all backgrounds. From the Habsburgs to the Ptolemys, this book covers a massive swath of history, and no one dynasty outweighs another; Cummings balances so many historical narratives and eras perfectly in this book. With its medical historical analysis and the inclusion of various medical theories behind these incestuous marriages, this book balances a traditional history of royalty with a history of medicine, a particularly enjoyable combination. This un-put-down-able historical nonfiction book is a must-read for fans of the history of European royalty and the history of medicine, and Cummings’s latest book is an absolutely fascinating read.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

I knew there was a lot of inbreeding in the various royal families throughout history but I admit to being amazed at how much there was even when it became obvious there were some genes that were doing more harm than good. Of course, since progeny were either potential rulers or pawns in power games, volume was more important than health.

Insanity seems to have been the most pernicious trait that seemed to gallop through families. But there were other things like physical defects that would make the lives of those unfortunate enough to be the recipients a misery. One might think the wealth and privilege would be a salve for the pain but there were many whose most fervent wish was to be released from it. It is not too hard to feel some sympathy for those whose futures were determined by the desire to keep the bloodline pure. And in the attempt to ward off any outside influence we are talking about the closest of relationships with each other. Game of Thrones has nothing on some of these families.

Well researched and presented, the book offers insights into the costs of inbreeding. Four purrs and two paws up.

NetGalley, Susan Johnston

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Interesting, very interesting. I had not realized how very inbred the European royal families were! Interesting to read about the results of the inbreeding.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

This topic has always fascinated me to some degree. I learned a lot of new things. I thought the book flowed well and did not get too technical. I felt I could easily follow and it certainly kept my interest. We learn about European royalty and Egyptian royalty. This was a great non fiction book with evident research. I read it in two sittings!!

NetGalley, leslie collins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was such a good read, and it had a lot of interesting information. The information was laid out in an easy to understand format, and was easy to understand. I enjoyed how each chapter was set up and truly learned so much from this book. I recommend this book to anyone who has a fascination with history or even genetics.

NetGalley, Megan Craddock

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

‘While each dynasty may have had different formalities, they all had one thing in common: intermarriage was intentional.’

Juliana looks into inbreeding and the consequences of this taken place.

We learn about Tutankhamun’s painful afflictions to King George III’s mental health and the rare blood disorder that affected Queen Victoria’s family to name but a few.

Juliana has clearly done a lot of research into this topic, and I found myself surprisingly consumed with every chapter.

The key message from this book? Don’t sleep with your relatives!!!

However, throughout history this has been ignored either due to naivety or because of the strong desire to keep ‘their bloodlines pure’.

You can read this book without knowing any prior history.

I always find with these history books, that they add many more books to ones TBR!

‘Philip and Mariana were convinced that the death of their children was a punishment from God and had no understanding that the family’s incessant inbreeding likely caused it.’

A must read for history lovers. Very interesting and unputdownable.

NetGalley, Georgi Lvs Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is fascinating and terrifying, it had a great concept and was everything that I wanted from this book. It was a interesting concept a uses the history of royal inbreeding is interesting and I appreciated it showing the consequences. Juliana Cummings does a great job in showing the research and glad it was so well done.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is only my third book by Miss Cummings but like the ones before it will not be my last. This is a great book well researched and well executed and it is a book I highly recommend a total five-star read.

NetGalley, Janalyn Prude

This detailed, thoroughly researched book covers many decades and countries to give an intriguing insight into the health of royal families across the world. There are some well known cases included but also many more obscure cases which are equally fascinating. The author does a very good job of exploring cases within their historical context, noting how the beliefs and biases against homosexuality and mental illness influenced the treatment of people.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

About Juliana Cummings

Juliana has been writing for over thirty years. From her first publication in her junior high school newspaper to her current writing on Tudor and Medieval History, writing has always been Juliana’s passion in life. While she’s always been interested in history, she discovered that her family lineage led to Tudor Royalty, which pursued her to learn even more. Her interests also lie strongly with other aspects of medieval history, particularly medicine and the macabre.
She continues to write for various publications throughout the United Kingdom and the United States, and her work has been published in History is Now magazine, Matt’s History BlogA Tudor Writing Circle, and Tudor Dynasty. Her books can be found on Amazon, including Sleeping with the Impaler and Medicine in the Middle Ages (Pen and Sword). She writes both non-fiction and historical fiction and can be found on Facebook and Twitter under The Savage Revolt. You can also visit her website, https://thesavagerevolt.com.

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