Dukes of Brunswick I: Wolfenbüttel and the Unwanted Princess

In January 1820, Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales, legally became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and Queen of Hanover, as consort to the new King: George IV. But the King made it abundantly clear that Caroline was to have no part in his new reign and would not beContinue reading “Dukes of Brunswick I: Wolfenbüttel and the Unwanted Princess”

House of the Dragon: The Basarab Princes of Wallachia and the Legend of Count Dracula

One of the most persistent and popular legends in the history of eastern Europe, and in the steep Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, is the story of an undead prince, a vampire, the ultimate blood-sucker, Count Dracula. His purported residence, Bran Castle, is the top tourist destination of Romania, with hundreds of thousands of visitors perContinue reading House of the Dragon: The Basarab Princes of Wallachia and the Legend of Count Dracula

Lost Princes of France: The Courtenays, from Latin Emperors to Earls of Devon

This is the story of a family that rose to great heights as princes and emperors in the eastern Mediterranean, then slowly declined over several centuries in rural France, before attempting to restore their former position in the line of succession to the French throne in the 17th century. An offshoot branch had established itselfContinue reading “Lost Princes of France: The Courtenays, from Latin Emperors to Earls of Devon”

The Anglo-Dutch Moment: the Bentinck dukes of Portland

The year 1688-1689 has been called by historians the ‘Anglo-Dutch Moment’, as the year when the ideas of English and Dutch limited monarchy came together in the person of William, Prince of Orange: King William III. Over three centuries later, one family, the Bentincks, still benefit from this relatively brief merging of national interests. HansContinue reading “The Anglo-Dutch Moment: the Bentinck dukes of Portland”

A Highland fling with the Dukes of Gordon

If you visit the northeast corner of Scotland, Aberdeenshire or the Moray Coast, you cannot help but bump into castles built or towns founded by some member of Clan Gordon. Today they are represented in the Scottish peerage by the marquesses of Huntly and of Aberdeen, but in the 18th century the clan was ledContinue reading “A Highland fling with the Dukes of Gordon”

The House of Lancaster in Portugal: Dukes of Aveiro and Abrantes

Lancaster is a very English place name, and the name used by dynastic historians for one side of the epic struggle for the English throne known as the Wars of the Roses. Curiously, as ‘Lencastre’ it is also a surname used by one of the few Portuguese noble families to hold ducal rank. Aveiro wasContinue reading The House of Lancaster in Portugal: Dukes of Aveiro and Abrantes

Dukes of Saxe-Meiningen

Where would you go if you wanted an incredible musical or theatrical experience in the later 19th century? One of Europe’s great music capitals—Vienna, Paris? The theatres in London? The capital cities of several small German principalities had either an orchestra or a theatre that punched well above its relative weight, like Weimar or Detmold,Continue reading “Dukes of Saxe-Meiningen”

Princes of Powys Fadog and Maelor

Until very recently I had never heard of Maelor, despite it being just over an hour’s drive from my home in Manchester. I’ve now become slightly obsessed with its curious history, as an exclave of Welshness jutting into the English countryside. For a small geographical space, it is complex, with two roughly equal parts: ‘Saxon’Continue reading “Princes of Powys Fadog and Maelor”

Piombino: A sovereign principality for the Appiani, Ludovisi and Boncompagni

Renaissance Italy is known for its complex political geography, with numerous small duchies and principalities punching above their weight in terms of the generation of political and philosophical ideas and staggeringly beautiful works of art. Mantua, Ferrara, Parma are all well known. There were also several much smaller principalities whose histories are not as known,Continue reading “Piombino: A sovereign principality for the Appiani, Ludovisi and Boncompagni”