In a handsome series of set pieces blazing across a troubled sky, this brilliant portrait gallery of Spanish Bourbons from the turn of the 19th century on illuminates not only dark corners of royal gossip but also, obliquely, continuing conflicts in Spain today. The split in mystiques, which is the base of a dual ideology thesis the author advances, occurred with all the muttering of a family feud when Queen Maria Christina in 1833 outwitted her dead husband's brother, Don Carlos. He had solidly based his claim to the throne on the Salic law which prevented women from inheriting the crown (Maria Christian and Ferdinand had two daughters). However the Liberals were in assent and Maria Christina found support against the traditionalist, absolutist Carlists. The royal feud began which lasted into the thirties when the Carlists at last felt Spain was ready for strong monarchistic views again... Marvellously readable, there are some penetrating studies of maddeningly headstrong, tumultuous, endearingly anachronistic, proud and petulant royal Queens and their sons. A book which should achieve much of the audience of the earlier Golden Bees (1964-p 638).