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The Bourbon Kings of France

By Desmond Seward

‘Licentious or bigoted, noble or ignoble,’ wrote Nancy Mitford, ‘there has seldom been a dull Bourbon.’

The story of the Bourbon kings encompasses the two most glorious and turbulent centuries in French history, yet surprisingly, this is still the only narrative account of the dynasty for the general reader. They emerge from a shadowy line of medieval princes in 1589 to rule France for over 200 years, dominating Europe, launching an endless series of wars, creators of the dazzling splendour of Versailles, survivors from the French Revolution.

The Bourbons begin with the dashing figure of Henri IV, with his courage, gaiety and 64 mistresses. They include figures such as the Sun King Louis XIV and Louis XVI who ended under the guillotine, and close with the little-known ‘Henri V’ – expected to return and rule France in 1873 but whose refusal to abandon the Lily banner of the Bourbons for the Tricolore finally lost him the throne. 

The Bourbon Kings of France is an accessible yet thorough history, written for the general reader and of particular interest to anyone who enjoys history or wishes to learn more about the Bourbons. 

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