THE SPANISH BOURBONS: The History of a Tenacious Dynasty by John D. Bergamini

THE SPANISH BOURBONS: The History of a Tenacious Dynasty

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With the possible exception of the Romanovs, the Spanish Bourbons surely take the prize as Europe's most inept and unappealing dynasty. Bergamini, a popularizer with elan, seems drawn to doomed or decaying kings (The Tragic Dynasty, 1969). Here he describes the physiognomy, sex life, mental aberrations and political orientation of each ruling monarch from 1700 when Louis XIV installed his grandson Philip on the Spanish throne as Felipe V. Known as the ""melancholy king,"" Felipe from time to time imagined himself to be a frog. Morbidly pious, sometimes bloodthirsty, and not infrequently lapsing into insanity, the Bourbons usually left government business to a strong man, who on occasion might also be the Queen's paramour. Except for Carlos III who reigned as Spain's Enlightenment monarch and tried to inject a modicum of rational and scientific thought, they were a sorry lot as Bergamini unsparingly shows. Though romantic and court intrigues take up much of his attention, in the background is the inexorable decline of Spain: military defeat, the loss of the American Empire, food riots and anarchist bombs. Bergamini makes his point about the Bourbons' capacity to survive with a brief and unflattering sketch of Don Juan Carlos, grandson of Alphonso XIII, now waiting in the wings as Franco's designated successor.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam