Sex, scandal and diamonds history as it's never been told before... In seventeenth century England, everyone is for hire: even the king himself, James I, is a secret pensioner of Spain. James also trades jobs and titles for homosexual favours from ambitious and parasitic Scotsmen who descend on Whitehall, until George Villiers, the future Duke of Buckingham, an irresistibly handsome Englishman, upstages them all to become James's established lover. Buckingham also likes, and perhaps prefers, women. A countess here, a duchess there, even the Spanish prime minister's wife, all serve as appetisers for an unimaginably daring and dangerous main course: Anne of Austria, Queen of France.
With a homosexual husband, Louis XIII, who possesses a pathological hatred of women, Anne is looking for love. She finds it in Buckingham, who arrives in person at Paris in 1625. Their affair all but paralyses the French court and turns a potential alliance into a shooting war. Anne makes the almost fatal mistake of giving Buckingham, as a token of her love, a fabulous diamond necklace, only for Louis XIII, prompted by the Queen's enemy, Cardinal Richelieu, to order her to wear it at a royal ball. Lucy Percy, Countess of Carlisle, the Cardinal's secret agent in London and Buckingham's jealous mistress, steals two of the diamonds and takes them to Richelieu. Three Musketeers began a desperate race to England and back to retrieve the necklace from Buckingham. Will they be in time to save the Queen's honour? Oxford historian Roger Macdonald uncovers the true, extraordinary tale of intrigue, sex and revenge that inspired Alexandre Dumas's immortal novel.
The book is beautifully illustrated with over 200 colour and black and white prints, many of which have not yet appeared in other books.
Oxford historian (M.A. Hertford College) Roger Macdonald is a member of the University s advisory board on development for the Humanities. His media career began in Fleet Street on the Daily Mail and The Times before he moved to the BBC as a producer and editor for more than twenty years. The Press Association (PA) won its largest ever contract for the provision of electronic news during his period as PA marketing and development director. His previous history book, about the real Man in the Iron Mask, was the central theme of a documentary in The Legend Detectives series made for the Discovery Channel.