Hello and Welcome!

This website is the product of many years of research, travel, conversation with friends, and so on. I first became obsessed with dynastic history when my family and I visited Innsbruck, Austria, in 1984 and I saw the magnificent tomb of Emperor Maximilian I — who was this guy? who were these ancestors?

I was hooked on the Habsburgs, wrote papers about them as an undergraduate, then wrote about their relatives, the princes of Lorraine for my doctorate. This sparked the idea that there was more to just studying kings and queens, or the nobility of one particular nation or other. I wanted to do a much broader comparative study of those who were not fully royal (kings, queens, emperors), nor fully ‘local’ nobility (barons, counts). There was an in between category, the dukes and princes, who could easily move between the courts of Europe and had an identity all their own.

each rank has its own style of crown

In addition to reading about all these families, I have continued in my initial desire to see the spaces in which they lived or were buried, so I have enjoyed many years of travel to locations all across Europe to visit country houses, palaces, or ruins. One of my favorite adventures was finding the Duke of Albemarle’s house in the remotest corner or Devon.

Great Potheridge, near Torrington
The remaining south wing, now an outdoor activity center for young people

The blogs I write here will tell the stories of these families, from Spain to Russia, make comparisons, share photos of trips I have made to these properties, and so on. I hope you enjoy them!


Me and the Duke of Westminster’s carriage, Eaton Hall, Cheshire

Published by Jonathan Spangler

I am a historian of monarchy and the high aristocracy of Europe. I focus primarily as an academic on the early modern period and France, but my interests range from early medieval Ireland to 20th-century Russia. I teach history at Manchester Metropolitan University in Manchester, England, and am the senior editor of The Court Historian, the journal of the Society for Court Studies. I am also a musician and an avid traveler. I love heraldry and genealogy. My ancestors came from Germany to the American colonies in the 18th century and I am a proud Virginian.

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