Cover image for Blood royal : the story of the Spencers and the Royals
Blood royal : the story of the Spencers and the Royals
Pearson, John, 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : HarperCollins, 1999.
Physical Description:
xii, 292 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
DA664.A48 P43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DA664.A48 P43 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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The Spencers, like the Windsors, are a dynasty -- one of the most successful families that England has produced. But how did a family of Tudor sheep farmers reach the ranks of the upper aristocracy by the time of the Restoration? The Spencers have quietly adapted from one generation to the next, sweeping up heiresses and magnificent estates, buying great libraries and art -- then building London's most beautiful Palladian mansion to house them. The Spencers were also virtuosi of a particular art of prime importance to any aristocracy -- the art of dynastic marriage. This is the story of how the Spencers attained their power, how they wielded it, and the bitter twist of fate by which they finally achieved their greatest dynastic marriage of all in 1981 -- the union of Diana Spencer with Charles Mountbatten Windsor.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Two new books are sure to appeal to royal watchers and readers fascinated with the late Princess Diana and her family. Massey's painstaking research into the brief life of a relatively minor member of the Spencer clan has revealed several eerie, if essentially vague, similarities between the first Lady Diana and her contemporary namesake. In addition to bearing a striking physical resemblance to one another, both Diana's lived at Althorp as children, both lost their mothers at age six, one through death, the other through divorce, both were touted as possible mates for the prince of Wales, and both died tragically young. To the author's credit she moves quickly beyond such superficialities, placing her primary subject firmly into historical context. What eventually emerges is a poignant portrait of a delightful early-eighteenth-century gentlewoman subject to the social mores and strictures of her own time and her own privileged social class. Definitely the meatier selection, Blood Royal traces the roots of the Spencer clan back to the fourteenth century. Renowned for their shrewd matchmaking efforts, the Spencer's steadily gained wealth, power, and prestige through a series of well-calculated marriages. Individual biographical sketches of particularly quirky, colorful, or distinctive Spencers are provided. This robust family history naturally culminates in their most significant dynastic coup: the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to the prince of Wales and the birth of the heir to the British throne. --Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is a lively if superficial overview of the lives and times of Princess Diana's illustrious family through 500 years, from the Tudor age to the present. Gaining and losing vast fortunes; making shrewd, status-enhancing marriages; and jockeying for social and political power are the recurring themes of this family saga, whose subjects rose from being wealthy farmers during the reign of Henry VII to ranking among the most prosperous and prominent families in the land by the 18th century, only to see both their wealth and their status decline throughout the Victorian and contemporary eras--until Diana, third daughter of the eighth earl, made her "fairy-tale" marriage into the royal family. Including such notables as Sarah Churchill and the infamous 18th-century duchess of Marlborough, whose carefully calculated scheming made the family one of the richest in the land, the Spencer clan is replete with colorful characters. That Princess Diana herself drew strength from this ancestral heritage, as Pearson claims, is undoubtable; more dubious, however, are his repeated assertions that various facets of Diana's own character are direct inheritances from one ancestor or another. This suggestion that biology is destiny culminates in the proposition--based on the observation that Princes William and Harry look more like their mother than their father--that the Spencer genes have superseded those of the Windsors and will be instrumental in shaping the future of the British monarchy. While this claim that the Spencer family history yields vital insights into the destinies of Diana and her children seems somewhat overstated, those who admire the late princess of Wales and those who are drawn to accounts of English dynastic history will find the story of the Spencers engrossing. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The author of The Selling of the Royal Family now tackles the aristocratic Spencers. The late Princess of Wales, formerly Lady Diana Spencer, is probably the Spencer readers know best, but the family tree also includes the names Churchill and Marlborough and a number of fascinating stories. From the ancestor known and almost universally despised as "Shameless Sunderland" and "the great apostate of Althorp" to the legendary Sarah Marlborough, from the Hon. George Spencer, who shocked his family by converting to Catholicism and becoming Fr. Ignatius of St. Paul (currently under consideration for sainthood by the Vatican) to Diana herself, the Spencers are an extremely interesting family. Here, Pearson makes it obvious why Diana Spencer could never be the quiet and complaisant wife Prince Charles and the Royal Family were expecting. The story is entertaining and involving, and the attractive book jacket will catch the eye. Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries.--Elizabeth Mary Mellett, Brookline P.L., MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.