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”
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”
The name Hamilton is currently very much in the air, as music and theatre fans all over the world learn about this Founding Father of the great experiment in a republican form of government established in North America in the late 18th century. But Alexander Hamilton has always been around, as someone you study inContinue reading “Dukes of Hamilton”
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”
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”
What do rural Cheshire and the most fashionable neighbourhoods in West London have in common? Both have been part of the extensive portfolio of the Grosvenor family for centuries. The dukedom of Westminster may be relatively new (1874), but their development of Mayfair and Belgravia stretches back to the early 18th century, and their controlContinue reading “Dukes of Westminster”
Dukes can be dangerous. Most European monarchies have suffered at one point or another from over-powerful uncles with ducal titles: Bedford and Gloucester for Henry VI of England, Burgundy and Anjou for Charles VI of France, or those more distantly related to the king, usually known as the princes of the blood. In some cases,Continue reading “Dukes of Cadaval”
The Duke of Saint-Simon is one of the most famous memoirists of all time, and the most meticulous and detailed account available to us for the court of Louis XIV of France. He’s not always the most reliable source, as he particularly enjoys boasting, about his powerful friends, about his own intellect, and so on.Continue reading “Dukes of Saint-Simon”
In September 2014, I attended a wedding of a dear friend in the south-east corner of Ireland, near Kilkenny. The wedding was hosted in a gorgeous country house called Borris. I knew nothing about this house with an odd-sounding name, but in the evening before the wedding, after the rehearsal dinner, I chatted with theContinue reading “Leinster Dukes and Princes: An Irish Driving Tour”
The family history of the dukes of Villeroy is one of the best examples of a the successful rise of a non-noble family into the very highest ranks of the French aristocracy, even to the point of being considered members of the intimate royal circle at Versailles. Indeed, one of these, the 2nd Duke, mightContinue reading “Dukes of Villeroy”
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