An Ulster Circuit: O’Neill princes and Abercorn dukes

Travelling in Britain and Ireland can be quite damp. While there are certainly moments of glorious sunshine, any traveller should also be prepared for days and days of drizzle, grey skies, and mud. Yet this can be a bonus for viewing historical monuments, adding drama and mystery to the landscape. Northern Ireland is one placeContinue reading “An Ulster Circuit: O’Neill princes and Abercorn dukes”

Dukes of Cleves, with Jülich, Berg and the Mark

‘Divorced, beheaded, died; divorced, beheaded, survived’. Possibly the most successful mnemonic in history; people who love Tudor history can even remember that Number Four (‘divorced’) was Anne of Cleves. But where on earth was Cleves? A misleading clue is in one of her historical nicknames, the ‘Flanders Mare’, though in the sixteenth century, Englishmen oftenContinue reading “Dukes of Cleves, with Jülich, Berg and the Mark”

Sforza dukes of Milan

In a recent television series, the artist Leonardo da Vinci is brought to Milan to work for the most powerful man in Renaissance Italy: Ludovico il Moro. Il Moro was head of the Sforza family, one of the names most associated with Italian history in the fifteenth century—like Medici or Borgia—but interestingly, their name wasn’tContinue reading “Sforza dukes of Milan”

Dukes of Mortemart: the Rochechouarts

Madame de Montespan—one of the most famous women in French history, one of the most archetypal maîtresses en titre of the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. She was not a duchess, unlike many other women in her position, though she was given the equivalent rights at court as a mark of her unparalleled royalContinue reading “Dukes of Mortemart: the Rochechouarts”

The Herberts & the Duke of Powis

Last summer I drove the lush green valleys of eastern Wales, in the region that was once the ancient Kingdom of Powys, ruled in the early Middle Ages by the Gwerthrynion dynasty until the 850s, then as divided principalities. As we passed by the market town of Welshpool, one of the former princely capitals, weContinue reading “The Herberts & the Duke of Powis”

Dukes of Oldenburg and Schleswig-Holstein

The name Windsor was chosen to represent the royal family of the United Kingdom in 1917, taken, quite rightly, from the castle that had been at the centre of royal operations in England since the 11th century. But if we go back to an older way of giving names to royal dynasties, the name traditionallyContinue reading “Dukes of Oldenburg and Schleswig-Holstein”

Dukes of Elbeuf, another branch of the House of Lorraine

One of the most well-known ducal families in French history is the House of Guise, an interesting example of a cadet branch of a family being more famous (or infamous) than the senior branch, the sovereign dukes of Lorraine. The dukes of Guise dominated French politics and diplomatic and religious policy for much of theContinue reading “Dukes of Elbeuf, another branch of the House of Lorraine”

Savoy and Dauphiné Driving Tour: The Ancient Trans-Rhodanian Principalities

In the early Middle Ages, if you traveled from Paris to Rome, once you crossed the Rhône River at Lyon, you were no longer in France, but in French-speaking principalities that were component parts of the Holy Roman Empire. After 1349, the first of these you’d encounter on crossing the river, the Dauphiné, was propertyContinue reading “Savoy and Dauphiné Driving Tour: The Ancient Trans-Rhodanian Principalities”