Mar 222016

Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp, shortly after her wedding. Portrait by Alexander Roslin, 1774.

Why today: Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte was born on this day in 1759.

Name: Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp
Character class:Queen
Lived: 1759-1818
Also known as: Duchess of Södermanland, “Little Duchess”, “Duchess Lotta”, Queen Charlotte
Special powers: Malicious gossip (+5 reputation damage on all rolls)
Known affiliates: Sophie Piper von Fersen, Fabian von Fersen, King Charles XIII
Quote: “You have to admit, my dear friend, that woman is truly an unhappy creature: while men have their complete freedom, she is always burdened by prejudice and circumstance”. Continue reading »

Jan 192015
Jones_Tethys_Festival_nymph_1610 (1)

Costume sketch for a nymph in Tethys’ Festival, 1610
Source: Wikimedia Commons

This is a list I have prepared for myself, but since I have it, I might as well share it (in case it’s of use to anyone else). It isn’t done; I will to come back and try to fill in more vital information for each piece – when it was performed; who wrote it; who designed it; who featured in it; and, who wrote the music – as well as more performances if I find them.

I have linked to the Wikipedia page or similar information for each masque if you want to read more.


The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses 
Performed: in the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace on the evening of Sunday, 8 January 1604
Written by: Samuel Daniel
Design by: ?
Music by:
Starring: Queen Anne and selected ladies.


The Masque of Blackness
Performed: in the Banqueting Hall of Whitehall Palace on Twelfth Night, 6 January 1605
Written by: Ben Jonson
Design: Inigo Jones
Music by:
Starring: Queen Anne and selected ladies

Continue reading »

Jan 122015

I think a lot of people may have seen Susan Higginbotham’s Tudor Cosmo girls. I thought they were really funny so I decided to try my hand at making a Stuart one.

And, presto, here is the Anne of Denmark issue!

I’m offering a slight breakdown for those not extremely familiar with Anne (less people are as familiar with the Stuarts as they are with the Tudors, and part of the idea with making this was changing that in a sort of fun and light-hearted way). Continue reading »

Jun 292014
Eric XIV of Sweden
(given in the painting as King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Vandals)

On 29 June, 1561, Eric XIV was crowned king of Sweden. He was the eldest son of Gustav Vasa, a relatively minor nobleman who had risen to royal status during the Swedish War of Liberation against King Christian II of Denmark in the 1520s. His ascension to the throne cemented the transition of Sweden to a hereditary monarchy under the House of Vasa, which was a clear break from medieval Sweden’s elective monarchy. Continue reading »

Jun 302013
The fatal tournament between Henri II and Gabriel Mongomery, Lord of Lorges
16th century German print, anonymous

On 30 June, 1559, King Henry II of France (1519-1559), participated in a tournament to celebrate a peace treaty between France and Spain. In a joust against the captain of his Scottish guard, Gabriel Montgomery, his opponent’s wooden lance pierced the King’s headgear, shattered into fragments, and splinters penetrated in several places, among them his right eye and temple. The King was treated by two of the most distinguished physicians of the Renaissance; the royal physician Ambroise Paré and Andreas Vesalius. Nevertheless, he died after lingering for eleven days.

Immediately the queen, Catherine de Medici, took charge in the name of her son Francis. She would retain a firm grip on the reins of France through the reigns of three of her sons, more or less until her death in 1589.

Nov 082011

Louis XV chair

The court of Louis XIV was ordered according to a very strict hierarchy. At the very top was, naturally, the monarch himself, and right below him “the children of France”; i.e. the children of a monarch. These included the legitimate children of the king, as well as his brother the Duke of Orléans, aka Monsieur, who was the son of the former king, Louis XIII, and therefore also a “fils de France” (son of France). Next were the “grandchildren of France” – the children of the children of France. Around 1700, this included the three sons of the Grand Dauphin (the only legitimate son of Louis XIV) the dukes of Bourgougne, Anjou and Berry as well as the children of Monsieur. That the latter would be given this status wasn’t obvious, but Louis, by granting them such privileges as were associated with that rank, made it clear that the rights of blood extended over several generations.

Outside of the actual family and right below the petit-fils de France (the grandsons of France as described above) were les princes de sang (the princes of the blood), who were of a cadet branch of the  Bourbon family. Below them were the royal bastards. The highest ranks of the nobility therefore ranked right below the illegitimate children of the king.

This fact infuriated several members of the nobility, most notably the Duke de Saint-Simon whose Memoirs are one of the most quoted sources on Louis’ reign. You might say he had a bit of a thing against bastardy in all forms and he was more or less obsessed with rank, always rating different families according to titles and the ancientness of their blood, and jealously guarding his own privileges.

So why did matter? Well, rank was expressed all the time, in every little trifling activity. For example, it decided where and how you might celebrate mass in the presence of the king, if you might ride in the king’s or queen’s coach etc. The most obvious thing, however, was the seating arrangements. Continue reading »

Jul 142011
King George III studio of Allan Ramsay oil on canvas, (1761-1762) NPG 223 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license

King George III
studio of Allan Ramsay
oil on canvas, (1761-1762)
NPG 223
© National Portrait Gallery, London. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license

At the coronation of George III in September 1761, part of the festivities was a challenge issued by a champion knight against anyone who would contest the king’s right. He was  supposed to be accompanied by three additional knights on horseback. They were to be the Duke of Bedford, Lord Effingham and Lord Talbot.

Mindful of the importance of the day, Lord Talbot did not want his horse to turn and show its rump to the King on its way out – he was quite determined to teach it to back its way out, like any good courtier would.

However (in the words of Horace Walpole), “he had taken such pains to dress it to that duty, that it entered backwards” and backed its way up to the King, most persistently showing its behind all the way, much to the loud enjoyment of the guests. In other words, the plan backfired (yes, pun totally intended) and poor Lord Talbot was mortified and pretty much the butt (sorry, can’t seem to help myself) of jokes told in every coffeehouse in London.

The story might have ended there, but obviously it was too good not to be used in the notoriously catty political climate at the time. When in it was brought up in the North Briton, Lord Talbot, who was probably sick and tired of hearing of that horse’s arse, snapped. Continue reading »

Jun 272011
King George II by Thomas Hudson oil on canvas, 1744 NPG 670 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license

King George II by Thomas Hudson, oil on canvas, 1744
NPG 670 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license

Why today: On June 27, 1743, George took part in the Battle of Dettingen, thereby becoming the last British monarch to personally led his troops into battle.

Name: George II
Character class:King
Lived: 1683 – 1760
Also known as: George Augustus, Georg August
Special powers: Loud Speaking (+1 stun damage on all attacks)
Known affiliates: Caroline of Ansbach; Sir Robert Walpole; Henrietta Howard; Amalie von Wallmoden; Lord Carteret
Quote: “We are come for your good, for all your goods.” Continue reading »

Jun 202011
Axel von Fersen

Axel von Fersen by Carl von Breda, ca 1800. He is wearing his Swedish robes of state as well as the collar of the Royal Order of the Seraphim and of a Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the Sword.

The Swedish Count Axel von Fersen, who died on June 20, 1810, lived an extraordinary life. He took part in the American Revolutionary War – among other things he served as an interpreter between Washington and the French and he excelled at Yorktown – and he served as a diplomat as well as a leading Swedish statesman. Axel’s main claim to fame, however, is his intimate friendship with Marie Antoinette. Continue reading »