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”

Polignac dukes and princes

In the world of the old aristocracy, the primary duty of a noble family was to maintain and hopefully augment status, wealth and power. The granting of a dukedom was a symbol of a noble family having reached the very top. Some, in circumstances of exceptional royal favour, achieved this in just one lifetime, whileContinue reading “Polignac dukes and princes”

Driving across Germany: Bavaria to Baden to Brunswick

Germany’s landscape is wonderfully varied, from steep Alpine peaks to unvaried flatness of the North European Plain. In the summer of 2014, I was lucky to enjoy not one but two research fellowships, in Vienna and Wolfenbüttel, so I took the opportunity of the week between them to rent a car and drive from oneContinue reading “Driving across Germany: Bavaria to Baden to Brunswick”

Vorontsov and Dashkov princes

Sometimes one noble family needs another to boost its status slightly into the ranks of the dukes and princes. The Vorontsovs were an old noble family of middle rank who significantly influenced the history of Russia in the 18th century. The Dashkovs were an equally ancient family, and though of higher, even princely, rank, rarelyContinue reading “Vorontsov and Dashkov princes”