The wicked, witty pen of Peyrefitte has found the perfect subject in this tale of royal romance divested of all sentiment and invested with the significance of carrying on the regal line. When Don Vincenzo Conzaga, Prince of Mantua, married Margherita Farnese, granddaughter of the Duke of Parma, in 1581, there was rejoicing. Rejoicing turned to dismay when rumors that the marriage had not been consummated were proved true. Who was at fault? Margherita, it was discovered, had an impediment, and was against her will scurried off to a nunnery, the marriage annulled. But was Don Vincenzo capable of siring an heir? A test was required: the proof of virility (in its three phases) in virginem demanded by the Church. Only after the requisites had been fulfilled to the satisfaction of all (including the virgin, Giulia, selected for Don Vincenzo's proving ground), was he permitted to marry Donna Eleanora de' Medici. With its customary irreverent indictment of the Church, its unabashed lustiness, a barefaced candor that could well be termed scurrilous, this is for a sophisticated audience who will find it a nicely unnice entertainment.