Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Belgium: A Review of Latest Biography of Queen Elisabeth

“Élisabeth de Belgique. Une Reine Entre Guerre et Paix,”  by Patrick Weber. (Payot, Paris). 205 pages, 10 illustrations. Text in French.

Queen Elisabeth of Belgium is perhaps best remembered as one of the icons of the First World War. Born a member of the unconventional Wittelsbach family, a niece of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, she was very much a free spirit.

In 1900 she married the future King Albert I of Belgium. Intelligent, with a strong will-power, she was very involved in charity work and the arts. As Queen, her work in the hospital at La Panne during the dark days of the First World War has become legendary, and many men owe their lives to her initiative.

After the war she and Albert travelled widely – to America, Brazil, Portugal, Egypt (where she visited the newly discovered tomb of Tutankhamen), India and the Congo. She founded medical and scientific institutions, took up yoga and sculpted. One of her chief interests was music, and the prestigious concours musical international Reine-Élisabeth, which she founded in 1951, still bears her name. 
The death of King Albert, followed by that of her daughter-in-law Queen Astrid, hit Elisabeth hard and she did all she could to support King Leopold. During the German occupation she was held under guard at Laeken, but allowed to make cultural and humanitarian visits and was able to help many Jews.  After the war she did all she could to safeguard the prestige of the monarchy during the so-called Royal Question and the accession of King Baudouin.

She continued to travel widely – to Poland, China and Russia, which earned her the nickname of the “Red Queen”. Her interest in life and her family never dimmed, right up until her death in 1965.
Patrick Weber, one of my favourite writers, first published this book in 1998. It is now updated as a timely reminder of a fascinating woman. Recommended.

Coryne Hall

Romanov: Documentary about ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II

This was first posted to Youtube last year. I don;t know who old it might be, but the footage is interesting nonetheless!

This image comes from a royal archive acquired by EUROHISTORY and Arturo Beéche. It is a private family photo, hence if you use without permission we will automatically know you have violated copyright!

Romanov: Review of THE FOUR SISTERS

A review for Eurohistory by Ms Coryne Hall of Ms. Helen Rappaport's much-touted biography of OTMA, which she claimed would give "her girls" an "individual voice"...

“Four Sisters. The Lost Lives of the Romanov Grand Duchesses”, by Helen Rappaport. (Macmillan)  492 pages, 40 illustrations.

Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia.  We all know their names. Known collectively as OTMA they flit through the pages of books in their white dresses and large picture hats but have never been given individual voices. Helen Rappaport has set out to rectify this.

The narrative starts with the family of Princess Alice of Hesse and the youth of Empress Alexandra, so it is as much a biography of Alexandra as about her daughters, who we really only meet on page 90 - Olga, thoughtful, charged with keeping Alexei in order; Tatiana, called ‘the governess’ by her family; Maria, clumsy but the prettiest of the girls; and the spirited Anastasia.  We are told the younger ones wore hand-me-down clothes because Alexandra was thrifty but later Ms Rappaport quotes accounts for Maria’s wardrobe in 1909-10 showing that some £14,500 was spent on her clothes that year. There is little really new and many things that could have been made more of (the holidays in Finland, their relationship with their grandmother the Dowager Empress) are rushed.

The Tsar’s daughters led rather secluded lives and, we are told, grew up ‘hungry for the sight of the world beyond’ the Alexander Palace. To understand why this was so it is of course necessary to understand the character of their mother and the effect that Tsarevich Alexei’s haemophilia had on the family – but there is rather too much about Alexandra and Alexei. 

It is ironic that the outbreak of the war which would lead eventually to the revolution and their deaths should be the catalyst that allowed Olga and Tatiana to see a little more of life outside the palace, although even this was nursing in the palace hospital. Their various crushes on young wounded officers make poignant reading, knowing as we do that they will never have chance to marry and settle down. 
Unfortunately, the world outside the Alexander Palace is to a large extent excluded to the reader as well, so we never really understand the reasons for the revolution, the Tsar’s abdication and the family’s imprisonment. We learn more about the children’s measles (Maria’s temperature rose to 40 degrees Centigrade  – 104 degrees Fahrenheit) than we do about all the other momentous events.  
Newly discovered letters from Anastasia to her friend Katya Zborovskyaya give a valuable insight into the sheer boredom of life in Tobolsk and there is a brief diary kept by the maid Anna Demidova but nothing about the fear Olga, Tatiana and Anastasia must have felt on the final journey on the boat to Tyumen, when they were forced to leave their cabin doors open at night, and nothing to suggest (as Gilliard hinted) that one or more of them may have been subjected to lewd advances by their coarse guards.

At Ekaterinburg the detailed narrative ends around the time of Maria’s birthday on 27 June 1918, meaning that the family’s final days are crowded into just 3 pages. Information included in Helen Rappaport’s previous book on the family (such as Maria’s compromising behaviour with one of the guards at Ekaterinburg) is missing from Four Sisters.  This is a great pity, as we are deprived of a full account of the sisters’ lives and their horrific deaths, and the book ends rather abruptly.

Unsurprisingly, the sisters come over as unsophisticated young women whose lives were dominated by sickness and suffering. 

This is a brave effort – but it left me disappointed.

Coryne Hall

Monday, March 31, 2014

EUROHISTORY: APAPA – King Christian IX of Denmark and HIs Descendants Has Arrived!

My latest book, a cooperation with the very talented Coryne Hall, was delivered this morning. Weather delayed its arrival last Friday...but it is here now!

I am autographing copies and mailing all pre-sales today!

Friday, March 28, 2014

EUROHISTORY: APAPA Began Selling on AMAZON this morning!

It is with much eagerness that we can announce that APAPA – King Christian IX of Denmark and His Descendants began selling on AMAZON earlier today.

Here is the link...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

UK: Royal Selfies!

Love...simply love it!

A prank done by one of the English tabloids, apparently, yet still quite funny and hysterical!

One does wonder...could it happen...?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Romanov: Eurohistory to Publish New Maria Pavlovna Biography

This morning Eurohistory received confirmation from Liki Rossii, the renowned Russian publisher in St Petersburg, that our offer to publish in English their new biography of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the Elder, has been accepted!

We will be working on this book during the early part of the Summer 2014 and expect to launch it at both the Fabergé International Symposium (in St Petersburg in early October) and at the Eurohistory Conference (October 17-18).

Galina Korneva, one of the authors, will lecture about the book at the joint Eurohistory-Hoogstraten-Rosvall Royal Books yearly conference, Royal Gatherings, scheduled for November 8-9, 2014, in The Hague, The Netherlands.

+ Archduke Heinrich of Austria (1925-2014)

The death was announced of HIRH Archduke Heinrich of Austria.

The Archduke, who had been ill for quite some time, finally found eternal rest on March 20, 2014. His place of death is Zurich, where he resided for a long time, along with his wife Archduchess Ludmilla.

Heinrich of Austria was born in Munich on 7 January 1925. He was the second child  of Archduchess Franziska (née Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst) and of her husband Archduke Maximilian, the only brother of Emperor Karl of Austria.

Archduke Maximilian and his wife eventually led separate lives. he died in 1952 at the early age of fifty-six, while Franziska survived her husband by nearly four decades and passed away in Salzburg in 1989.

Not owning a personal fortune, the children of Maximilian and Franziska had to build a future for themselves. With their mother's undivided support, both Heinrich and his older brother Ferdinand (1918-2004) were to become quite successful businessmen, all though pure grit and commendable personal effort. Archduke Ferdinand was married to Countess Helen zu Toerring-Jettenbach, by whom he had three children: Elisabeth, Sophie and Maximilian.

In 1961, Heinrich married Countess Ludmilla von Galen, a towering beauty with whom he had four children: Archdukes Philipp (b. 1962), Ferdinand (b. 1965)  and Konrad (b. 1971), and Archduchess Marie (b. 1964). All children married and provided Heinrich and Ludmilla with seven grandchildren. While the sons remain married, Archduchess Marie's marriage to Clemens Guggenberg von Riedhofen ended in divorce some time ago.

Archduke Heinrich, who retired from the business world man years ago, resided in Salzburg. He had been in poor health the last years of his life. Death now frees him from his earthly suffering.

A funeral mass for Archduke Heinrich will be celebrated in Anif, Austria, on April 5.

I wish to extend a personal message of condolence to Archduchess Ludmilla and her children and their spouses.

May He Rest In Peace ...

Archduke Heinrich of Austria.

 Archduke Heinrich of Austria.
(Courtesy Count Hans Veit zu Toerring-Jettenbach)

Fürstin von Bismarck and Archduke Heinrich of Austria.
(Courtesy Count Hans Veit zu Toerring-Jettenbach)

Archduchess Ludmilla. 

Archduke Heinrich and Archduchess Ludmilla in 2006.

NOTE: Use of photos from the EUROHISTORY Archive without prior permission is a punishable offense.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Romanov: New Biography of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna

For two decades, Liki Rossii, one of Russia's premier history publishers, have regaled us with excellent publications, many of them focused on the Imperial Family. Their books on the history of St Petersburg, Russia's Imperial capital, are widely recognized for their high quality and exquisite production. Liki Rossii has published various volumes on the Romanovs, among them the memoirs of two members of the Vladimirovich line of the Imperial Family: Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich and Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich.

Authors Galina Korneva and Tatiana Cheboksarova have worked on the Romanov Dynasty for more than a decade. In 2001 they authored an excellent book on the Vladimirovich Palace in St Petersburg, "The Palace of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich – The House of Scientists." The authors are frequent lecturers in Russia and abroad, with Ms. Korneva also having lectured across the USA, most recently at the yearly EUROHISTORY Conference, hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area in October 2013. A month later, Ms. Korneva was also a guest lecturer at ROYAL GATHERINGS, a joint royalty conference hoisted by Eurohistory and Hoogstraten English Bookstore in The Hague.

The opus of Korneva and Cheboksarova was a massive book titled RUSSIA AND EUROPE – Dynastic Ties, that first appeared in Russian in 2010 and was later published in the USA by Eurohistory two years later. The American version of the book was handsomely supplemented with more than 100 extra photos, most rarely seen before and from various royal archives, as well as from the vast Eurohistory Archive, owned by Arturo E. Beéche.

MARIA PAVLOVNA, the latest book authored by Korneva and Cheboksarova, contains extensive and rare material from archives in Russia and across Europe, and accumulated over the years by the authors. The book, published in Russian (for now), contains 300 illustrations, discovered by the authors in Russian and foreign archives and private collections. About 70 photos included in the book were provided courtesy of Eurohistory publisher, Mr. Beéche.

Fluency in various foreign languages allowed Korneva and Cheboksarova the ability to analyze periodicals from the late XIX and early XX centuries. These periodical archives came from Russia, England, Germany, and also provided rarer photographic imagery. The thoroughness of the research demanded by this book simply increased the importance of its publication.

EUROHISTORY hopes to bring this book to publication in English later this year. We hope to conclude a satisfactory agreement with Liki Rossii to make it possible!