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”

Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha, families of two British consorts

Anyone who is interested in the history of the British monarchy is familiar with the names Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha: Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria is certainly a well-known figure; Princess Augusta, the mother of George III, probably less so. Those who have read about monarchies in the 19th century more generally are also awareContinue reading “Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Saxe-Gotha, families of two British consorts”

Dukes and Abbeys in the Midi: A Circular Drive around the Centre of France

Driving tours in France often include visits to the country’s periphery, the seacoast, the Alps, the Pyrenees. This long circular drive I did in the summer of 2000, to allow me to dig in to some regional archives for my dissertation about the Lorraine-Guise family, instead took me deep into France’s interior. Aside from exploringContinue reading “Dukes and Abbeys in the Midi: A Circular Drive around the Centre of France”