Ansbach and Bayreuth: Secondogeniture lands for Hohenzollern princes

One of the benefits of the fragmentary nature of the German feudal states that made up the Holy Roman Empire was that small segments of a dynasty’s patrimony could be easily carved out to provide younger sons with a territory of their own to govern, a principality from which they could derive an income andContinue reading “Ansbach and Bayreuth: Secondogeniture lands for Hohenzollern princes”

Fouché d’Otrante: French Neapolitan dukes in Sweden

Some dukedoms are awarded to die-hard republicans, based on a territory not connected in any way to the grantee, the title formally removed by one country, then reclaimed by descendants living in another. Not often, it has to be admitted. But such is the story of the ancestors of one of the grandest Swedish aristocratsContinue reading “Fouché d’Otrante: French Neapolitan dukes in Sweden”

Radziwill—Princes sans frontières

Sometimes one single prominent marriage can bring an entire family lineage back into the popular consciousness, even if the details of the who, what, where remain fuzzy. Such is the case for His Serene Highness Prince Stanisław ‘Stas’ Radziwiłł, whose celebrated marriage to Lee Bouvier in March 1959 propelled him into the limelight as partContinue reading “Radziwill—Princes sans frontières”

Seventy Years on the Throne—Europe’s Longest Reigns as Benefit or Burden?

On the 6th of February, 1952, in a treehouse in Kenya, Queen Elizabeth II formally began her long reign, in Britain, in Canada, in Australia, and so on. Few monarchs in world history have reigned for seventy years, and it is interesting to consider whether such long reigns in history have served as beneficial orContinue reading “Seventy Years on the Throne—Europe’s Longest Reigns as Benefit or Burden?”

Dukes of Fife: heirs to Macduff

“Lay on, Macduff”, cries Macbeth as he challenges him towards the end of Shakespeare’s historical ‘Tragedie’ set in Scotland in the 11th century. By murdering the usurping tyrant Macbeth and restoring the proper royal line in the person of King Malcolm III, Macduff is the hero of the piece. 800 years later, if following aContinue reading “Dukes of Fife: heirs to Macduff”

A People Protected by a Prince; A People Proffered by a Prince: Germans who came to America in the 18th Century – My Ancestors

In the 18th century, thousands of Germans crossed the ocean to settle in the British colonies, many concentrated in Pennsylvania, where it is estimated that by the 1770s they made up about one-third of the entire colonial population. There were many motivations for this emigration from Germany, but two of the most significant, religious persecutionContinue reading “A People Protected by a Prince; A People Proffered by a Prince: Germans who came to America in the 18th Century – My Ancestors”

Lerma, Olivares and Haro: los Validos

Spain’s ‘Golden Century’ was dominated politically by powerful men known as validos, a combination of prime minister and personal servant, the closest confidant and advisor to the king. The reigns of Philip III and Philip IV were monopolised by three men, Lerma, Olivares and the latter’s nephew Haro. The first was created Duke of LermaContinue reading “Lerma, Olivares and Haro: los Validos”

Dukes of Teck, Dukes of Urach

The castles of Teck and Urach are not instantly familiar to even the most seasoned travellers, but both lent their names to dynasties with interesting close connections to more well-known royal and princely families—notably the Windsors and the Grimaldis—and even to an ephemeral kingdom in the Baltic that vanished before the ink was dry onContinue reading “Dukes of Teck, Dukes of Urach”