Book Review: Assassination, The Royal Family’s 1000 Year Curse

The British monarchs have been targets of assassination for 1,000 years. A new book by David Maislish tells the intriguing story of each sovereign and how they survived....or didn't.

CHARLOTTENovember 10, 2012 – Satirical filmmaker Mel Brooks liked to say, “It’s good to be the king.”

Author David Maislish has another perspective in his new book, Assassination, The Royal Family’s 1000 Year Curse, which demonstrates that British monarchs over the past millennium have been victims of an endless array of plots, counterplots and funeral plots.

It evolved from the seed of an idea. “I decided to write about the 11 monarchs we all know had been killed,” says Maislish. “Hoping to find more, my research suggested that another 12 may have been killed.”

The concept became increasingly intriguing for Maislish as he dug ever deeper “leading to the discovery that someone had indeed tried to kill all the others but it was just that they had been lucky enough to escape assassination.”

Assassination is the result of four years of painstaking research by Maislish, studying hundreds of books in the evenings and writing on weekends and holidays. The result is a fascinating examination of the British monarchy that we never studied in school, filled with intrigue, rivalries, quests for power and greed.

Little wonder the Brits have such an affinity for a good mystery. It’s in their blood, so to speak. It might even be the origin of the term “bloody good.”

One of the unexpected pleasures of Maislish’s work is the added inclusion of numerous anecdotes which bring the stories of the monarchs to life and make for interesting dinner conversation. Such enthralling tidbits as the use of the fork or the origins of croissants, chardonnay, the handkerchief, cappuccino and numerous others little known facts.

Perhaps most relevant to the book itself is the story of Edward I during the ninth crusade. It was there that Edward encountered Hasan bin Sabah in what is today Iran. Sabah recruited young, impressionable men and indoctrinated them into becoming fanatics who were willing to publicly die for their cause with the promise of 72 virgins in paradise as their reward.

If that sounds familiar to modern day terrorism, it should.

In the 13th century however, it was believed that in order to commit suicide for such a cause the men must have been drugged on hash. As a result, the word used to describe Muslim suicide killers was “hashishim” which later evolved into the word we know today as “assassin.”

Each chapter is a mini-biography, complete with a detailed family tree, of the forty-five monarchs who have sat on the throne since Canute became the first king of England in 1016. Since each sovereign had his or her own unique personality and story entwined with the course of history, the tales make for quick, interesting stand alone segments.

They almost become literary snacks where you can read one or several and come back for more without losing your place.

Mailish’s conversational, story-telling style is as though the author himself is narrating the adventures of royal intrigue at a cocktail party.

Another aspect of the book is the evolution of the rules of succession which continue to change even today. As we know so well from the saga of Henry VIII, gender has long been a major factor in the link to the throne, but that is changing now with contemporary mores where sexual orientation no longer matters.

As Maislish points out if the gender-factor had been eliminated during the reign of Queen Victoria the history of the world might have been altered dramatically.

Victoria was succeeded by her oldest son Edward VII. But he was not her oldest child, that was her daughter Victoria,” he says. “Princess Victoria had married the son of the Emperor of Germany. So, under the proposed equality gender rules, she would have become Queen Victoria II when her mother died. When Queen Victoria II died a year later, she would have been succeeded by her oldest child William and he would have become king – the man who became Kaiser and led Germany to war against Britain.”

As the age old adage says, “truth is often stranger than fiction.”

If such events tickle your fancy, then Assassination, The Royal Family’s 1000 Year Curse, should find its place in your literary line of succession. It’s a bloody good read.  Available in paperback ($16) and e-book ($5) at

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 70 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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