The Old Booksmith


Bibliography for Research in British & Continental
Royal & Noble Lineages & Heraldry:

Background Reading & Development of the Titled Classes








Basic Reference


Heywood, Valentine. British Titles: The Use and Misuse of the Titles of Peers and Commoners, with Some Historical Notes. London: Adam & Charles Black, 1951. 188p.

Any technical subject, including the British system of royal and aristocratic (not noble) titles takes some study. Like when do you include "The" before a form of address such as "Right Honourable"? Does the Prince of Wales actually inherit the title of Duke of Cornwall? Under what authority did Prince Philip become Duke of Edinburgh, or the ex-king Edward VIII the Duke of Windsor? Under what circumstances may peers sit in the House of Commons? What happens when an offer of the Garter is declined? And what is a "special remainder" anyway? In his Foreword, Sir Gerald Wollaston, Garter Principal King of Arms, approves of Heywoodís answers and explanations, and you probably canít do better than that. This volume is crammed with peerage history and law, fascinating discursive digressions, and a most interesting look back at the world of upper-level British society more than half a century ago — which, because of the innate conservatism of the peerage system, really hasnít changed much in this respect.


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Pine, Leslie G. The Genealogistís Encyclopedia. NY: Weybright & Talley, 1969. 360p.

Not nearly as broad in its subject matter as the title would lead one to believe, this volume by the former editor of Burkeís Peerage examines in depth (and with many illustrative examples) the value of ancient British and Continental oral genealogies, the trustworthiness of medieval lineages, and comparable records for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. There are extensive chapters on heraldry, peerage law, orders of knighthood, the Scottish clans, and the whole system of titles. This should be required reading for anyone attempting British genealogical research of any kind, especially when faced with a claim to Roman or ancient Celtic descent. Pine also delights in describing the ninth century "gangster-types" from which such illustrious families as the Mountbattens descended.


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Theory & the Current Situation


Barnett, Anthony (ed.). Power and the Throne: The Monarchy Debate. London: Vintage & Charter 88, 1994. x, 227p.

Charter 88 (founded in 1988 on the 300th anniversary of the Glorious Revolution) is a "radical" British political organization that questions the role of the royal family in the modern world and whose goal is adoption of a written constitution and an end to the royal prerogative. A generation ago, this position would have been considered Jacobin, but not anymore, such is the spread of popular dissatisfaction with the royals, the House of Lords, the established church, and other class-based institutions. The essays in this collection include loyalist as well as abolitionist viewpoints, but perhaps the most interesting are those by Tory journalist Charles Moore ("The Importance of the Monarchy") and Elizabeth Longford, a republican turned monarchist (and whose own books appear elsewhere in this bibliography), and their antitheses, Social Democrat Stephen Haseler ("Monarchy Is Feudal") and playwright David Hare, who wants to see an end to the "odious rituals of deference." There are also several pieces by politicians, including Jack Straw, later an important figure in the Blair government, who would like to abolish the prerogative. Several novelists, including Sue Townsend, Fay Weldon, and Martin Amis, also provide interesting contributions. Though now more than a decade old, this volume provides a useful series of snapshots into the continuing debate.


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Bence-Jones, Mark & Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd. The British Aristocracy. London: Constable, 1979. 259p.

The authors begin with the basics — the difference between "nobility" and "aristocracy" and the essential prerequisite to both: "the right to be called a gentleman." They move on to a thoughtful historical analysis of the British sort of aristocracy, including its manifestations in Scotland and Ireland, and the development of the aristocratic character and end with its place (if any) in the modern world. Of particular interest are the chapters on two rogue subgroups — the great landowning families who are nevertheless untitled commoners and those military or professional middle-class families who achieved titles without possessing much acreage. The unannotated bibliography is a useful starting point for further reading. All in all, a well-informed and well-written treatment by two blokes with hyphenated names.


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Bush, Michael L. The English Aristocracy: a Comparative Synthesis. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984. vii, 248p.

Almost all scholarly treatments of the aristocratic system in Britain have dealt only with a narrow historical period — which is not surprising, given the nature of the historical profession. But this provides no developmental context for the student. Bush covers the whole history of the upper classes, from the 12th century to the 20th. Also unlike other writers, who consider only the titled peerage itself, he regards the baronetcy and the gentry as "minor nobility," part of the same social order or estate, which makes the British system appear much closer to that which operated on the Continent. This concise study divides the discussion into the privileges of rank (far fewer in England than on the Continent), the status of aristocratic rank (quite a different matter), and the resulting capacity for survival (much greater in a nation never afflicted by a successful revolution among the commons). He considers the composition of the peerage and the gentry and the interpermeability between the two levels, their degrees of landed and non-landed income over the centuries, the aristocratic mind-set, the role of the aristocracy in preventing absolutism in the monarchy, the impact of agrarian capitalism and industrialization, and the gradual shift in political power by aristocrats from its heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries (when it controlled Parliament) to its near demise after 1911. Bush makes heavy use of technical terminology (subinfeudation, gavelkind, rack-rent), so that one could wish for an expansion of the brief glossary. However, this volume should be one of the first stops for any new student of the comparative history of the upper social classes.


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Cannadine, David. The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990. xiv, 813p.

A century ago, the British titled class was still Godís elect: the wealthiest, most powerful, and most glamorous segment of the population. Then things began to fall apart and this rather scholarly work attempts to explain why. The popular assault on "landlordism," the proliferation of titles, the democratic revolution, the question of Irish independence, the escape of many of the nobility to the farther corners of the empire where they could still wield something like their old power, the institution of life peerages, plus the leveling effects of two world wars — all took their toll and resulted in todayís titled elite becoming, for the most part, an elegant anachronism surviving precariously on the margins of British society. The authorís style and wit are especially evident in his vignettes of such characters as Wilfrid Blunt, Lord Howe, and the Mitford sisters, but this book will still demand some intellectual commitment from the reader.


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Duncan, Andrew. The Reality of Monarchy. Rev. ed. London: Pan Books, 1973. 381p.

The author, a skilled journalist, interviewer, and script writer, spent most of a year following the Queen and the Royal Family around, beginning with the opening of Parliament in October 1968 and ending with the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales the following July. There were two state visits overseas, to Brazil and Chile in November and to Austria in May, in aid of British exports, plus several visits to Buckingham Palace or Windsor by foreign heads of state. there were innumerable speeches and tours and opera nights, and there was Ascot and Maundy Thursday, and there were the first adult public appearances by the two eldest of the Queenís children. Prince Philip could be expected to put his foot in it occasionally, and various senior members of the Royal Household (nearly all of whom are individually profiled for the first time) were constantly on the run. Itís a fascinating and very informative look behind the scenes at the job the modern monarchy does in Great Britain (and at its actual cost to the taxpayer), and Duncan is at pains to document his comments and figures. But thereís also an historical aspect. The Britain of a generation ago — before Thatcher and Blair, before Princess Diana — is almost unimaginable to readers under forty. The Queen Elizabeth of 1968 seems closer, almost, to Queen Victoria. Some present-day writer could do todayís Brit a service by undertaking a similar project in the 21st century and comparing his findings to Duncanís.


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Guttsman, W. L. (ed.). The English Ruling Class. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1969. xii, 310p.

American college undergraduates often are assigned an anthology of specially selected readings drawn from a variety of relevant authors, as a method of exposing them to the literature in their subject. This volume was constructed along those lines, though for English readers, comprising more than 120 brief selections from the late 18th century through roughly the 1930s — which means even the more recent information is now more than two generations out of date. Nevertheless, even without taking into account the great changes the British upper classes have undergone since World War II, and especially in the past two decades, Guttsman supplies a very good, and very representative overview, particularly for the 19th century, of the general character of the upper classes, their lifestyle, the nature and effects of landownership, the influence and effects of the aristocracy on political life, the true nature of aristocratic education, and the place of the upper classes in the army, the church, and the civil service. Few of the selections run more than two pages (some are a half-page or less) and very few are taken from previously published books. Most, in fact, are excerpts from private correspondence, diaries, memoirs, parliamentary debates, government reports, and letters to The Times, from such notables as Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Walter Bagehot, T. S. Eliot, Benjamin Disraeli, Mathew Arnold, William Stubbs, and assorted peers — but also from any number of anonymous observers, politicians, and commentators.


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Mertes, Kate. The English Noble Household: Good Governance and Politic Rule. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988. 235p.

Perhaps under the influence of Upstairs, Downstairs, we tend to think of the Edwardian era as the heyday of the great English households, with ranks of maids in starched aprons and platoons of liveried footmen. Yet even the most magnificent domestic arrangements of the late 19th century are pale shadows of the establishment of Edward Stafford, third duke of Buckingham in the early 1500s, with more than 500 servants. For they were not merely domestic staff but also his political power base, the center of his patronage system, even the core of his social community. This sort of private domestic bureaucracy was crucial to the functioning of English aristocratic society, yet prior to this publication, no scholarly study had been made of the noble household in itself. Just as an absolute monarch might establish rules for the efficient operation of society, so the lord of a large household established "ordinances," and many of these have survived to the present, as have the detailed accounts kept by a wide variety of kitchen clerks, butlers, and valets of the chamber. In fact, such accounting records (which were rather different in purpose and structure from modern double-entry bookkeeping), form the basis for much of our knowledge of the operations of the medieval baronial system. Studying the accounts of a noble lord over time also points up the changes that evolved. Where Gilbert de Clare, for instance, in the early 14th century, moved his household from one of his estates to another an average of once every two weeks, Lord Le Strange a half-century later stayed put for more than a decade. The average household increased sharply in size in the early 15th century, a development made possible by growing social stability and an increased standard of living among the nobility. Mertes examines in great detail the evolution of the butler, the chamberlain, and the valet as social positions, corrects our notions of aristocratic profligacy (it took a lot of meat and drink to feed a large household), and compares the life style of the temporal and spiritual nobility. A twenty-page appendix lists all of the surviving collections of household records from c.1250 to 1600 — a potential treasure trove of genealogical information.


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Molesworth, H. D. The Princes. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969. 224p.

The author divides his anecdotal study of most Continental royalty in the 17th and 18th centuries neatly into topical chapters: The Mystique of Royalty, The Court, Ambassadors, Mistresses, Religion, Hobbies, The Prince Travels, etc. There are no great insights here, nor even much originality, but copious photos of royal artifacts and of the art that decorated the palaces of Europe enliven the text. The Baroque era is recent enough in our history to have had considerable influence on our own century (many of the royal houses examined lasted until the Great War) and the author seems genuinely to regret that in a modern egalitarian democracy the distinctions of "Gentlemen" and "Ladies" are relegated to public platforms and public restrooms, where everyone qualifies.


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Montagu of Beaulieu, Lord. More Equal than Others: The Changing Fortunes of the British and European Aristocracies. NY: St. Martin, 1970.

223p.

With multiple descents from the ninth-century FitzAlans of Brittany (Seneschals of Dol) through the Stewart kings of Scotland and England, the authorís blood is as blue as they come, but, like a surprising number of the more modern among the hereditary peers of lengthy lineage, his attitudes are an interesting combination of aristocratic stewardship and enlightened democratic reform. (Having been born to privilege and a significant degree of wealth, he and they have had the education and leisure to develop a liberal outlook.) "Whether or not it was, in the past, the desire of the aristocracies the world over to be Ďmore equal than othersí recent events have clearly shown that the old myth of Ďpeers versus the peopleí is now dead. The future may well see the peers lined up with the people as a first line of defence against the over-authoritarian executive whose power grows daily." He was referring to Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilsonís then-recent proposals in the House of Commons for drastic reform of the House of Lords, and his book was written largely as a rebuttal to those proposals. Forty years later, the Lords are still pretty robust and Wilson canít hold a candle to Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair for authoritarianism from either party.

Montagu considers the British brand of aristocracy far superior to its various equivalents on the Continent, with closer links to the land and with more regard for national concerns than for class advantage. The principal practical distinction is that in Britain, most gentlemen, no matter how ancient their families, are not members of the nobility, and titles (and the accompanying estates) passed mostly unbroken to the next generation by primogeniture. In France, Germany, and other nations, all gentlemen are by definition nobles and the entire family inherits the right to a title, however impoverished they all might be. The countries under consideration were selected to display the range of European aristocratic systems, from Russia, where the nobility was snuffed out in the Revolution of 1917, to Spain, where aristocrats still control the largest fortunes (and have the lengthiest titles), with France, Italy, and Austria somewhere in the middle. In the last three, a title may still carry social status but confers no political or economic preferment. The British system, on the other hand, always was small — at least until the introduction of life peerages — and exclusive, its influence backed until the 1920s by those huge landholdings. Nor was there in Britain a tradition of conspicuous consumption, as in Mediterranean aristocratic cultures, which were based perhaps on feelings of insecurity and inferiority. Again, English peers, as a class, are famously self-confident; where the Russian nobility spoke French and looked to Paris, Brits always have looked only to themselves. Finally, Britain had the luck to be relatively isolated from the Continental powers — escaping casual invasion and entangling alliances with or against neighbors and avoiding the easy importation of revolutionary social sentiments — and also in its monarchy, to which English peers have always been closely connected and which has generally avoided the ineptness of the czars, the Habsburgs, and the Bourbons.

The author possesses a spry, crackling style, mixing footnoted history with anecdote, which makes this a very readable volume. The French nobility, he says, "have seldom practiced moderation," especially after their virtual enslavement at court by Louis XIV. The Spanish grandees, with their horror of trade, obsession with rank, and rigid social stratification, are largely the creation of the reconquista, followed a few centuries later by the tide of labor-free wealth from the New World. Because the Habsburg empire included so many different cultures and languages, the Austrian nobility was strikingly cosmopolitan in its origins, though it underwent great internal changes with its near-complete conversion to Protestantism. Until the unification of the Italian peninsula in the 1870s, the noble classes of Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice, and the other city states each had their special characteristics — though nearly all of the families descended from "uncouth, hardly literate, and savage" robber barons of the medieval and Renaissance centuries, and though the later nobility was highly regarded for its generosity and hospitality. Finally, the Russian nobility, drawn from a vast territory on what other Europeans considered the fringes of civilization, adhering to the Orthodox version of Christianity, and speaking a language that had nothing in common with French or German, "was something of a mystery to its western counterparts" — especially after Peter the Greatís "loutish manners and primitive habits" during his tour of the west.

In the later chapters, Lord Montagu investigates and analyzes the present-day British peerage, incorporating a number of interviews with his fellows in the House of Lords, many of them of widely disparate opinions. Quoting Lord Arran, "Weíre certainly not a clique. Far from it." The extremely unscientific survey of public opinion regarding the monarchy and the peerage which the author commissioned and which he summarizes at the end, is not very useful, but itís the only disappointing thing about this book.


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Myers, Henry Allen & Herwig Wolfram. Medieval Kingship. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1982. ix, 467p.

"The origins and development of Western monarchy in all stages from the fall of Rome to the Fifteenth Century," and that about says it all. Excellent background reading on all the little delights of nomenclature bestowed upon us by the Franks and the Carolingians. Not really "genealogy," but you have to understand the history and the bureaucracy before you can follow the relationships and the titles.


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Palmer, Francis Beaufort. Peerage Law in England: a Practical Treatise for Lawyers and Laymen. With an Appendix of Peerage Charters and Letters Patent. London: Stevens & Sons, 1907. xiv, 314p.

How does one define a "noble" in England? Where does a title come from? Are the children of a peer — a noble — automatically noble, too? In law, the monarch is the "fountain of all honour," creating a person a noble by the gift of a title. But once the gift is given, itís governed by law and Parliament; the Crown cannot retract a title or designate an heir to it. And it turns out that an Englishman is either a peer or a commoner; thereís no in-between status. And the children are only potential peers — even the eldest son, the heir apparent, is not a peer until (and if) he succeeds to the title. And unless things shake out to result in a younger child inheriting the title, that child is, and will remain, a commoner. What about spouses? Well, the common-born wife of a peer is automatically a peeress with all the rights and privileges, and that state continues even if sheís widowed. But if she remarries to a non-peer, she loses her nobility. At the same time, the common-born husband of a peeress in her own right does not become a peer by virtue of marriage. Confusing, isnít it? Palmer is a highly readable classic on the legal theory that underlies the English system of titles. He describes the ways in which a title is "property," just like a house, and the fact that a noble who holds several titles is still a "peer" in only the singular. "He may have a barony and an earldom, but he can only have one status of peerage, for (equality admitting of no degrees) peerage is in its very nature one and indivisible." In discussing jurisdiction in matters of titles and the rights of peers, he frequently cites case law (some of it ancient) and the earlier rulings of the House of Lords. ("The Courts of law have no jurisdiction in regard to matters of peerage.") In the matter of creating a peerage, thereís a considerable difference between, say, an earldom (done by Royal Charter with the assent of Parliament) and a feudal barony, which is attached to the land itself — but which does not include a right to sit in the House of Lords. Baronies were a matter of tenancy before the time of Edward I, who introduced writs calling barons to sit in the great councils of the realm. Thereís a great deal more on the history of the various levels of the peerage and the distinctions between their modes of creation (by writ, by patent, or by Act of Parliament), how a title descends, is merged, or is alienated, how attainder works, and so on. Then thereís an Appendix of more than sixty pages setting forth (mostly in English) a variety of charters and letters patent, beginning with the creation by King Stephen in 1140 of Geoffrey de Mandeville as Earl of Essex (the grant was confirmed by the Empress Maud the following year). These generally are brief, including the names not only of witnesses but sometimes those of lesser men whose services were assigned to the new peer; listings of grants of land are omitted. Essential reading for anyone interested in the English peerage system. (And itís available for free at Google Books.)


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Pine, Leslie G. Heraldry, Ancestry and Titles: Questions and Answers. NY: Gramercy Publishing Co. 1965. 122p.

Intended for the beginner, this non-threatening presentation of 161 questions and answers in 122 pages range from "Who can get a coat of arms?" and "Why do so many titles become extinct?" to "What is a Count Palatine?" (Well? Do you know?). Morganatic marriages, "of that Ilk," Jacobite titles, the royal familyís surname, and the difference between "dormant" and "abeyant" — all make this compulsive reading.


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Powis, Jonathan. Aristocracy. (New Perspectives on the Past, vol. 2) Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984. viii, 110p.

As the editor of this excellent series of extended interpretive essays notes, "a class so chronically outmoded" as the aristocracy "has been an uncommonly long time adying." What is there about the "upper class" that has ensured its survival for so many centuries, especially far into the Age of the Masses? A variety of aristocracies, in fact, have come and gone, but the word in its original Greek usage has little relation to its meaning today. From "rule by the best" (Aristotle was realistically willing to amend that to "the few"), it evolved to mean simply the right, and duty, of one small group of people to command all the rest. In the Renaissance and on down to Montesquieuís Spirit of the Laws, the implication was that this authority and power was wielded for the greater good of the community as a whole. With the French Revolution on, "aristocracy" came to refer not to a system of government but to people, those of the highest social standing in the eyes of all the rest — because the survival of the aristocracy as a segment of society has always been dependent on its acceptance by those who were not a part of it. A man without a reputation, without a good name — without "honor" — in the opinion of the rest of society is not an aristocrat but simply a man with, probably, a lot of money. This point is important and ties in to the definition of "gentleman" in Britain, which itself is a much broader concept than "aristocrat." Or of "noble," for that matter, which implies heredity but not necessarily authority or social standing. (The impoverished nobleman is practically a clichť.) This slender volume is filled with such observations that are intended to give the reader pause to reconsider. Powis notes the close connection between the upper class and control of wealth, but points out that the aristocrat also was expected to be generous, to spend the money he acquired, endowing educational and religious institutions, contributing to the maintenance of the state, and very frequently going into debt himself as a result. Likewise, he had power — originally despite the king (remember Magna Carta), later because of the kingís largess — but it was meant to be wielded on behalf of those who supported him. Birth might give one authority but only willing followers could provide a base for power. Is the aristocracy finally disappearing in the Western world? At the end of the 20th century, the hereditary principle in public life seems to be on its last legs in Britain and on the Continent. Political rights are no longer just for males, or just for property owners. The concentration of wealth as a base for power — which it still very much is — has been divorced from privilege based on family. And, as Powis makes clear, this disappearance of noblesse oblige may or may not be a good thing.


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Winchester, Simon. Their Noble Lordships: Class and Power in Modern Britain. London: Faber & Faber, 1981; NY: Random House, 1982. 317p.

Itís sometimes difficult for Americans to understand how the titled class in Great Britain manages to hang on and on, in what is supposed to be a democracy. In fact, under various Labour governments, Britain has been far more radically socialist than the United States — but the dukes and earls and barons have always survived. Is it just the British love of tradition? Probably not. In fact, Winchester makes a very good argument, well supported by charts and tables, that class is still alive and well in the U.K. and that the upper class still controls the nationís land to a startling degree (or did, a quarter-century ago). A number of inquiries, even by the government, over the past century have been unable to nail down just how much land each peer controls, but the author estimates the total at something like four million acres — not much to a millionaire Texas rancher, perhaps, but that constitutes about one-third of all the land area of Britain. And itís in the hands of fewer than 1,500 families.

This is not something British aristocrats really want publicized and, in fact, they go to some lengths to at least obfuscate it. Winchester actually had finished this book in 1978, but his publishers came under assault by a number of titled persons who figured in it. The legal system in Britain pretty much allows individuals who are the subjects of books, no matter how much in the public eye they may be, to suppress such works before publication. It was only with the assistance of a few sympathetic specialist lawyers, especially Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, the foremost authority on peerage lore in Britain, that his work finally saw the light of day.

But this lively volume is far from being a dry socioeconomic study. Winchester went and visited as many dukes and earls as would talk to him (some did), as well as chatting up a broad sampling of the barons who constitute the lower rungs of the aristocracy. Some of these, such as the Duke of Devonshire and Baron Mowbray, he seems to approve of, more or less. In other cases, he lets the manís personality and opinions speak for themselves. And itís not a clichť that hunting, fishing, dining, and collecting stuff account for the majority of interests of a great many of the titled. Winchester also describes at length the qualitative differences among the five ranks of the peerage: The special place of the dukes, who are far, far higher on the ladder than even the marquesses next below them; the fact that retiring prime ministers have traditionally been created viscounts; the peculiar inferiority complex of many among the ranks of the barons.

There are also some curious effects that follow ennoblement."Those who carry a title as a consequence of their birth are not in one single case as distinguished in any field as was the first holder of the title; in every single case they are either as comfortably settled as was the first holder or are considerably more settled than was that first holder. . . . In short, the elevation to the peerage has brought the group firmly within the Palace gates of the Establishment, yet appears to have done little to increase their usefulness, as a group, to the society that honored their forebears. Small wonder that most peers, of recent and of ancient creation, are reluctant to give up what privileges they have." So while the author has nothing personal against most of the peers he has observed, he does not think stripping the upper class of most of its acreage and the House of Lords of its remaining legislative powers would be a bad thing.

Thereís also a great deal of anecdotal history in this book (or it might have been considerably thinner), most of it fascinating and some of it hilarious. The heralds and pursuivants who make up the staff of the College of Heralds often do not approve of those to whom titles and arms are granted, for instance — and you really donít want to annoy someone with a title like Portcullis or Rouge Dragon!


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Historical Development: Britain, Scotland, & Ireland


Bateman, John. The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland. 4th ed. Leicester: Leicester University Press; NY: Humanities Press, 1971. xxviii, 533p.

The first edition of this Victorian statistical classic was published in 1876; the fourth and last edition, considerably corrected, and of which this is a reprint, appeared in 1883. It grew out of the "New Domesday Book" — a national inventory of landholdings in Britain — which was undertaken by order of Parliament in order to ascertain the truth (or not) of the assertion by the radicals that land ownership was far too concentrated. The claim was generally made that only 30,000 landowners controlled the majority of land in the country. Information gathered from 15,000 parishes and five million parochial assessments showed that while there were more than 972,000 landowners, more than 703,000 owned less than one acre. Only 43,000 owned more than one hundred acres and, even more unpalatable, a mere 710 persons owned among them one-quarter of all the land in the country.

John Bateman, a Tory country gentleman, took this mass of material and constructed an alphabetical list of the great landholders of 3,000 acres or more — a great many of whom, naturally, were also bearers of titles. In subsequent editions, in order to exclude those who merely possessed large swaths of barren and unproductive Scottish moor or Irish bog, he amended the requirements for inclusion to 3,000 acres and £3,000. After the first edition, he also solicited corrections of holdings and added information on education, club membership, military careers, dates of birth and succession, etc. Finally, he compiled a list of "impoverished" peers (i.e, worth less than £3,000) and a series of tables presenting landowners in several classes according to acreage and income.

The result for the student of peerage genealogy is a snapshot of virtually every holder of a title, plus heads of cadet branches of titled families. The Marquis of Ailesbury, for instance, owned some 55,000 acres, mostly in Wiltshire and Yorkshire, was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, served as Lord of the Bedchamber to William IV and Vice-Chamberlain of the Queenís Household, and sat in the House of Commons for Marlborough before succeeding to his title in 1878 at the age of sixty-seven. Lord Hastings of Melton Constable, also an Etonian and a Trinity man, had not quite 20,000 acres in Norfolk and Northumberland, and belonged to five different clubs. The Earl of Limerick, on the other hand, was relatively poor, possessing only 5,700 acres in Counties Limerick and Clare, and also had served in the Rifle Brigade. Thereís a great deal of similar material in this volume for further analysis.


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Beard, Madeleine. Acres and Heirlooms: The Survival of Britainís Historical Estates. NY: Routledge, 1989. 210p.

Little more than a century ago, Britain ruling class — which is to say its landowning class — were united by common life experiences: Early life in the same public schools under the same headmasters, followed by three years at Oxford or Cambridge, then a stint as an army officer in the appropriate regiment, all of it leavened by foxhunting and cricket (or pig-sticking and polo if you were in India). They shared a particular way of speaking, a certain set of political and religious views, and an entitlement to wealth, for compared to aristocracies on the Continent, "the English landed elite owned a very large part of its nationís territory." Then, in April 1894, it all began to change, when the Liberal chancellor of the exchequer, Sir William Harcourt, introduced death duties — the taxes levied on inherited estates. He was followed by another chancellor, David Lloyd George, whose impoverished childhood in rural Wales had led him to despise the landowning class. The rates were low and the level of exemption considerable, but some large landowners could see what was coming. Just before the Great War, the 9th duke of Bedford sold off most of his estates in East Anglia and Devonshire and invested the proceeds in stocks and bonds. But the necessity of a family divesting itself of land and stately homes was greatly enlarged by the high officer casualty rate between 1914 and 1918 — one in five of the British and Irish peers who served were killed, a rate almost four times that of the rank-and-file. Even if the death duties could eventually be paid, the upkeep on large, antiquated country homes was enormous; more than seven hundred were pulled down by their owners in the 20th century. The author follows the progress of this divestment of the landed elite, including the effects of World War II, the inroads of the modern Labour Party, the coming of the National Trust in 1937, and the Disney-ization of stately homes to make them pay for themselves in the tourist trade. More than two dozen black-and-white plates, all of them new to me, illustrate those changes very nicely.


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Churchill, Randolph S. They Serve the Queen: A New and Authoritative Account of the Royal Household. ("Prepared for Coronation Year.") London: Hutchinson, 1953. 68p.

The author was the son of Sir Winston, which gave him an obvious "in" at Court, and he made good use of it with this chatty but very informative memento of the Coronation of Elizabeth II. After a discussion of which office-holders qualify as "Great Officers of State" (technically, there arenít any), he launches into a first-hand description of the duties of the Earl Marshal, Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord Chamberlain, Comptroller, Lord Steward of the Household, Master of Horse, Crown Equerry, Mistress of the Robes, Women of the Bedchamber, the Queenís Private Secretary, Keeper of the Privy Purse, and Master of the Household, and of the personalities of the individuals who carry them out. Some, like the Earl Marshal (the duke of Norfolk), are exhausted at the end of the Coronation year but have little to do in their job otherwise, Some, like the Crown Equerry, have essentially full-time jobs. The Lord Steward was the duke of Hamilton — premier peer of Scotland and the man Rudolph Hess flew to Scotland to make contact with — led quite an adventurous life as an engineer, pilot, and world-traveler. The duke of Beaufort, on the other hand, who served as Master of the Horse, was "perfectly suited to his duties" (such as they were) as "probably the finest horseman in the kingdom" and master of the Beaufort Hunt. The many black-and-white photos round out this portrait of the Royal household a half-century ago, now virtually a period piece.


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Clarke, Peter A. The English Nobility under Edward the Confessor. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. xi, 386p.

Thereís a tendency to look for contrast to the closely-held authority of the Norman rulers of England after 1066 by imagining the late Anglo-Saxon kingdom to have been a semi-democratic consortium of smallholders. But this is very far from the case. As Clarke shows, all the earls under Edward came from just four families: Godwine and his wife and sons (including Harold, defeated at Hastings), Leofric of Mercia and his wife and sons and grandsons (the latter becoming earls of Mercia and Northumbria, Siward of Northumbria, and Ralph of Hereford, a nephew of King Edward). Actually, I hadnít been aware the wives of the earls owned such extensive holdings in their own names, which may say something about the difference between Anglo-Saxon proto-feudalism and the Norman variety. The extent of the Godwine estate was nearly twice that of the other three families added together, and in fact was only slightly smaller than the kingís estates. Obviously, when Harold II went off to fight the invading Duke William, it was, in part, as the largest single landowner in England. The close analysis of the sub-earl class of landholders that follows is drawn almost entirely from Domesday Book, the single source without the survival of which we would have no picture of the Anglo-Saxon aristocracy at all. As this volume is a reworking of Clarkeís thesis at Oxford (which accounts for the slightly pompous style at times), about half the entire text consists of tables enumerating in great detail the lands assigned to the earls under King Edward and likewise the makeup of the "non-earlish" estates. A certain amount of lineage may be deduced from these. There is also a very good bibliography.


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Coss, Peter R. The Knight in Medieval England, 1000–1400. Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Allan Sutton Publishing, 1996. xiv, 191p.

Coss, Peter R. The Lady in Medieval England, 1000–1500. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998. ix, 214p.

The author is an academic specialist in English medieval social history, with a special interest in knighthood and the gentry, and these two volumes are best read as a pair. While few knights in the medieval period became aristocrats, all noblemen were knights, at least in theory. Beginning with the Conquest and the introduction of the feudal system, they were the ruling class by virtue of arms, though Coss also examines the Saxon roots of some aspects of knighthood. He also considers in some detail the relationship of the knight first to gentility and then to lordship, showing how the characteristics of knighthood were changed in the process. The bookís only fault, in fact, is the lack of subject headings in the index.

A knight must have a lady, but while many books have been written about medieval women, few have focused on the knightís female counterpart in society. Again, emphasis is on the aristocracy, since thatís where the records are, though Coss depends heavily on surviving letters and contemporary literature as well as household accounts, and he even employs such sources as monumental effigies and brasses. Both books are stimulating studies with many examples drawn from noble families of the period.


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Crouch, David. The Image of Aristocracy in Britain, 1000–1300. London: Routledge, 1992. xiii, 392p.

David Crouch, an Anglican priest and professor of medieval history at the University of Hull, is one of the most influential scholars working these days in the area of Anglo-Norman studies, and this widely-cited volume brings together most of his ideas and observations on the origins of feudalism and the nobility in Britain — although he prefers "aristocracy" to "nobility" and explains why in convincing detail. He also has some cogent things to say on the present state of research and those doing it, and on the useful place of genealogy in pursuing it. The "prehistory" of the English peerage, he says, goes back to the Welsh princes, though the concept of "knight" is definitely Norman; the blending of the two streams of sociopolitical development led to a unique system in Britain. The later chapters on the insignia of rank — banner, coronet, etc — in defining the aristocrat, and the role of the castle (beyond its military purpose) and the manor in enforcing that status also are excellent. The twenty-page bibliography should be taken as a guide to further reading.


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Fenwick, Hubert. Scottish Baronial Houses. London: Robert Hale, 1986. 253p.

The term "manor house" is not particularly Scottish, nor is a Scots laird a "lord of the manor," but the feudal similarities are there — at least until the Victorian period and the pervasive influence of Sir Walter Scott. In practice, the Norman feudal pattern arrived in Scotland very shortly after it was brought to England, and Queen Margaret and her sons formalized the system in the 12th century. A few Scots buildings date to the medieval period, such as Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire, which was erected during the reign of Robert Bruce, but even those houses that are only two or three centuries old are often the seats of families of ancient pedigree. Fenwick is, naturally, an architectural historian, and the bulk of this combination history and guide is given over to discussions of French and Dutch influence, the ubiquity of "doocots" (dovecotes), and the piling of Victorian Gothic ornamentation on facades of much plainer design. However, there is also a great deal of ethnography (e.g., the "separateness" of Fife) and family history threaded throughout, including notes on the Setons, Hopes, Clerks, Forbeses, Grants, Lindsays, and the Earls of Moray, among many others. Scores of black-and-white photos and pen-and-ink drawings of architectural exteriors add to this bookís usefulness to the Scottish specialist.


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Given-Wilson, Chris. The English Nobility in the Late Middle Ages. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987. xxii, 222p.

Four themes dominated the life of the medieval nobleman: warfare, politics, land, and family. All these made up English political society, not just for the great dukes and earls but also for the lesser peers and the gentry who formed the power base in the counties. The author thoroughly examines the English social structure, discussing what contemporaries meant when they talked of the nobility and analyzing in detail the territorial and familial policies of the great landholders. For instance, although William the Conqueror did not, as a matter of policy, dispossess the Anglo-Saxon nobility, that is, in fact, what had happened by the time of Domesday Book, twenty years later. By 1086, there were, at the top of society, about 170 great tenants-in-chief, men who held their land directly from the king, and enough of it to be described as barons. All but two of these men were Norman (or Breton, or Fleming). Among them, these 170 controlled about half the land of England. Another seventeen percent was retained by William as his own demesne, and another quarter of the land was granted to the Church. The remaining eight percent was divided among all the other lesser tenants-in-chief and the minor royal officials. But even so, there were immense differences at the top, with Robert, count of Mortain (and the kingís brother), controlling one hundred times as much territory and income as, say, Robert of Aum‚le. In fact, about one-quarter of England was in the hands of ten men: Robert of Mortain, Odo of Bayeux (the kingís other brother), William FitzOsbern, Roger de Montgomery, William de Warenne, Hugh díAvranches, Eustace of Boulogne, Richard de Clare, Geoffrey of Coutances, and Geoffrey de Mandeville. Given-Wilson also probes the surprising fact that no really great noble dynasts emerged in England during the 12th century — a family that might compare in wealth and status with the great peers of France or the dukes and margraves of Germany. (It was mostly a combination of geographical dispersion of landholdings and much greater social fluidity than that of the 14th century. The author is also careful to provide examples of his points from a large number of noble families of interest to the genealogist. The historical maps detailing the manor holdings of the Nevilles, Berkeleys, Clares, Montagues, Beauchamps, Percys, Cliffords, Fitzalans, Mowbrays, and Beauforts are enlightening and the notes and bibliography are very extensive.


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Green, Judith A. The Aristocracy of Norman England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xv, 497p.

When Bishop Ralph of the Orkneys was warming up the army which had assembled in Yorkshire in 1138 to face the invading Scots, he addressed them as "nobles of England, Norman by birth." And so, it has been argued, did the imposed aristocracy of England perceive itself — but another faction of historians insists that the leading Norman families in the first century after the Conquest crossed the Channel frequently and saw themselves as subjects of an itinerant king. This is only one of the issues the author addresses in this generally successful and quite accessible attempt to reconstruct the ruling elite of Anglo-Norman England in many of its aspects. The surprising thing is that with a plethora of works on the Conquest itself, and many studies of individual noble families and specific monarchs, there has been no single work before this on the general development of the aristocracy of Norman England. Even with the limitations necessary in a single-volume monograph, she forms some interesting hypotheses about the relationship between the aristocracy and both the Crown and the Church, how the nobility got its wealth and how they spent it, the function of castle- and hall-building, the evolution of the newly-landed elite into a complete feudal system, and above all the nature of aristocratic power via kinship and marriage. She concentrates on the use of documentary sources rather than the literary evidence, which she feels has been over-used. The footnotes are voluminous and the bibliography is lengthy and very detailed.


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Harper-Bill, Christopher & Elisabeth van Houts (eds.). A Companion to the Anglo-Norman World. Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2003. xix, 298p.

Publishing in Anglo-Norman studies has grown tremendously in the past thirty years, since the Norman Conquest was introduced as a special subject at the University of London, and the editors conceived this anthology as an overview of the present state of the field, with emphasis on topics in politics and culture — and not much at all on military matters, covered in detail by the essays in Stricklandís Anglo-Norman Warfare (1992), to which this might be considered a associate volume. The eleven contributors, all well-known specialists, include Marjorie Chibnall on "Feudalism and Lordship" and Lesley Abrams on "England, Normandy and Scandinavia," both of which are excellent. Elisabeth van Houtsís survey of historical writing in the subject also is very useful.


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Hayden, Ilse. Symbol and Privilege: The Ritual Context of British Royalty. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987. xii, 214.

This thought-provoking work of social anthropology is a revision of the authorís doctoral dissertation, but is nevertheless highly readable for the non-specialist. Taking as her theme the idea that "the queen is what the queen does," Hayden proposes that the Sovereign — or at least this Sovereign — has far more influence, both politically and socially, than might generally be thought or that the English constitution might envision. She does it both by distancing herself, personally and ceremonially, from her subjects, but also by drawing in the aristocracy (the closest people available who resemble herself) for close support. This mechanism can be seen in action every time the royal family poses on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, and by noting the long list of things the queen simply does not do, such as attend the funerals of non-royals, give anything away (ever), or permit anyone else to initiate a conversation in her presence. This puts her on a higher plane than ordinary mortals. Moreover, much of what is regarded as "ancient" ritual dates only from the early 20th century; Victoria was a very different sort of monarch, and a much less astute one. Hayden does an excellent job of explaining the royal system as it operates in Britain, and her insights also help to explain later events — such as the Royal Familyís ham-handed confusion at the outpouring of popular grief on the death of Princess Diana.


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Hollingsworth, Thomas Henry. The Demography of the British Peerage. (Supplement to Population Studies, vol. 18, no. 2) London: Population Investigation Committee, London School of Economics, 1965. 108p.

Cliometrics reigned in university history departments in the 1960s, including detailed comparative analyses of population statistics compiled by governments. The peerage of Great Britain is an obvious target for such a study because itís well defined (by law) and extends without interruption over more than three centuries. The actual subjects here are all peers who died between 1603 and 1938 and their legitimate children — more than 26,000 individuals, plus their spouses and children. Comparisons can then be made with the general British population and with the upper classes of countries on the Continent. The monograph divides rather neatly into three sections, on marriage (social class of partner, nuptial age, divorce and remarriage), fertility (family size and replacement rates, stillbirths and childlessness), and mortality. A series of appendices discuss the quality of the printed records used and of the data itself, marriage of peersí daughters to commoners, and a number of purely statistical considerations. While the bulk of this slim volume consists of tables, charts, and mathematics, the conclusions presented are useful in pointing out the areas in which the peerage outpaced society at large, such as life expectancy, and those in which it compares closely to Britons generally — which is the case in more areas than one might expect.


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Hollister, C. Warren. Monarchy, Magnates and Institutions in the Anglo-Norman World. London: Hambledon Press, 1986. xix, 338p.

This collection of seventeen of the authorís journal articles published between 1973 and 1985, all but one of them the products of his research into the reign of Henry I. The remaining paper, "1066: ĎThe Feudal Revolutioní," is his final revised thoughts on the origins of the English feudal system. Although all of these essays are interesting, not all are directly germane to this bibliography. I would especially recommend, however, "The Misfortunes of the Mandevilles," "Henry I and Robert Malet," "The Taming of a Turbulent Earl: Henry I and William of Warenne," and "Henry I and the Anglo-Norman Magnates." Hollisterís prose is always excellent and his arguments usually convincing.


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Holt, J. C. The Northerners: A Study in the Reign of King John. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961. xiv, 272p.

In 1216, King John was trying hard to regain the political ground he had lost when he was forced by a group of rebellious barons to sign the Great Charter (Magna Carta) the year before. To that end, he led an army into the north of England, eventually as far as Berwick on the Tweed River, to try to subdue the individuals and the forces that opposed him. And he had some successes in the short term, but in the long run the balance of power between the king and the peerage had changed forever. Writing a half-century ago, Holt takes a somewhat fawning, flag-waving view of the Charter of the sort that might raise a cynical eyebrow today, but otherwise he supplies a thoroughly astute, open-eyed history of the rebellion in the north — an area of England that in the 13th century meant everything above the Trent and which still seems almost a foreign country to many in the south. He examines the rise of factions and the role of and connections between the great families, especially the Percys, the Mowbrays, the Lacys, the Nevilles, the Rosses, the Stutevilles, the Vescis, and the lowland Scots houses like the Baliols and the Bruses. The prose is academic but not crushingly so, and citations to sources are frequent, so this volume would be an excellent starting point for further research into any of the families noted above.


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Lander, Jack Robert. Crown and Nobility, 1450–1509. London: Edward Arnold, 1976. x, 340p.

This collection of ten previously published articles focuses on the later part of the Lancastrian-Yorkist wars, a period long regarded by historians as an era of serious social deterioration, ruled by a "troglodyte aristocracy" engaged in political gangsterism. Both sides in the Wars of the Roses were self-serving and it took Henry Tudor, founder of a new dynasty, to undertake the reconstruction of English society, restore public order and the Crownís purse, and suppress the evils of bastard feudalism. Lander questions most of these opinions, identifying royal propaganda on both sides and attempting to rehabilitate the quality of 15th century public life. Of most interest to us, however, are the essays "Marriage and Politics in the Fifteenth Century: The Nevilles and the Wydevilles," "Attainder and Forfeiture, 1453 to 1509," and "Bonds, Coercion and Fear: Henry VII and the Peerage," all of which deal with the English aristocracy in a turbulent time. A very interesting appendix identifies those peers who actually took an active military part in the half-century under discussion, grouping them by family connections and noting how the lineup shifts with each accession of a new monarch.


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Loades, David. The Tudor Court. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble, 1987. 250p.

From Henry VII to Elizabeth, the court during the Tudor era was both the political and cultural focus of the English state, where the monarch attracted talent and dispensed patronage. They dealt heavily in image-building, especially Henry VIII and Elizabeth, for the ruler was not merely a personal executive but the center of a rich symbolism expressing all the aspects of authority. The monarch had not only to be (or have been) a chivalrous war leader, but must also show magnanimity and generosity to his subordinates in the peerage and to his people in general — and he must do it publicly. The king was also responsible to God for his subjectsí well-being, which was why it was so important to Henry VIII to produce a son; not to do so was regarded as a sign of divine disapproval. Royal pageantry was also a tool of statecraft, as shown by Edward IVís competition with the glittering court of Burgundy and the attention paid by Henry VIII to the elegance of Francis I. The author deals at length with the sources on which English courts modeled themselves, their often amorphous administrative structure and day-to-day workings, the nature of access to and security within the court (a nobleman had to be sure of his welcome there, which was often the acid test of his personal political status), the political role of royal sports and entertainment, and the nature of factional political maneuvering. Even the architectural layout of the kingís place of residence provided context to the court, and the book includes an annotated list of the kingís houses, when and by whom they were built, to what use the monarch put them, and their eventual fate. Mining the private and public writings of the peerage for examples, Loades has produced a very readable account of a subtle side of kingship of which most modern students are not even aware — even though much of what he has to say might also apply to the White House.


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Longford, Frank Pakenham, Earl of. A History of the House of Lords. New ed. London: Sutton, 1999. 224p.

The late Lord Longford was a sometimes hot-headed Laborite, husband of writer Elizabeth Longford and father of noted popular historian Lady Antonia Fraser. He was Leader of the House of Lords more than once, served in several governments, and was an ardent foe of pornography — and was also a favorite of the tabloids for some of his other reformist causes. Still, he was an hereditary peer and sat in the House for more than a half-century, and while he was dubious about its place in modern, semi-socialist Britain, he obviously had considerable affection for "the best club in the world." He begins by describing a typical day in the workings of the House, noting who attends and who doesnít, and trying to explain why party politics has less hold there than one might expect. Then he goes back to the Conquest to examine the roots of the institution in the feudal summonses issued by a succession of early kings. By 1377, the House was beginning to "settle down," just in time to become a force in the dynastic disputes between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, and the roots of much of the aristocracyís wealth dates from Henry VIIIís dissolution of the monasteries (their properties being parceled out to his favorites and supporters). The "Golden Years" came, he says, under the Hanoverians, which was followed by seventy-five years under the control of the Victorian Tories. The arrival of something resembling modern democracy in the 20th century led to great changes in the House, and the postwar Labor victory brought even more changes. But still, the long-threatened dissolution of the upper house, long an item in the Labor agenda, has yet to happen, and the author examines the possible reasons for that, too. While this is not at all a scholarly work, itís a very readable overview and introduction to an ancient British institution, the authorís prejudices and bugbears notwithstanding.


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Marples, Morris. Princes in the Making: A Study of Royal Education. London: Faber & Faber, 1965. 211p.

Monarchs are born to their station but they also must be made ready to assume its duties. The tradition of consciously educating the heir to the throne in anything more than the military arts began with the Tudors and the Renaissance. The young Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth — all of whom became monarchs in their turn — were true prodigies, with what seems almost a genetic gift for languages, politics, geography, theological discourse (high intellectual sport in those days), and especially music. Elizabeth I is reckoned to have been perhaps the most gifted and certainly the most academically prepared woman in Europe. The unfortunate Jane Grey was even more brilliant — though, according to her instructors, she lacked the mental flexibility required of a successful ruler; had she lived and retained the throne she might have become the Protestant equivalent of the intolerant Mary I. Education didnít come so easily to the Stewarts but they persevered and were generally successful — at least academically. The Hanoverian offspring were quite another matter, producing enough black sheep to turn any tutorís hair white. An interesting account of the transformation of extraordinary children into kings and queens.


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Newman, Charlotte A. The Anglo-Norman Nobility in the Reign of Henry I: the Second Generation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988. xiv, 243p.

Newman, a noted scholar of the Norman period, came to history by way of a childhood fascination with her own familyís history, and her work combines a deep interest in the lives of individuals with a profound understanding of the need for sociopolitical context. This book grew out of her dissertation, fostered by such luminaries as Warren Hollister and Joel Rosenthal, and itís an excellent social-biographical overview of the people who built the 12th century in Britain, using Helihyís "generational" methods. Successive chapters discuss the nature of the Anglo-Norman family unit and the world in which it existed, the mechanics of royal service and the royal patronage which was its reward, and the strategies which successful nobles adopted in furthering their careers and family status. An interesting appendix also discusses at length "The Problem of the Bastard" — not a small subject under Henry I!


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Painter, Sidney. Studies in the History of the English Feudal Barony. (Studies in Historical and Political Science, vol. 61, no. 3) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943. 211p.

While doing research for his comprehensive history, Reign of King John (1949), Painter found that, except for Stentonís The First Century of English Feudalism, the subject of baronial history was comparatively untouched. This study was meant to fill that gap. He begins with the basic two-part definition of the barony — as a feudal subdivision that included political and military functions, and as a source of income to support the baron. The first part had been dealt with in a limited way, though Painter disagrees with the treatments of most of his predecessors in regarding the barony as simply an impediment to the development of centralized monarchical government. The second part, however, dealing with the baronís own socioeconomic affairs, had been almost entirely neglected. He points out that while the ruling economic motives of all men are food, clothing, and shelter, the baronís membership in the highest economic group assured him of the necessities. He also had the resources to supply what other desires were common to the feudal class: the best weapons and military equipment, private forests for hunting and hawking, and provision for his soul by gifts to the church. But, of course, not all barons were equal in their property or attainments and the natural result has always been competition for higher status, even among those near the top of the pyramid. Painter then embarks on a broad comparison of the extent, geographical distribution, and annual incomes of what he regards as representative baronies (from among those for which sufficient records still exist), from Domesday through the reign of Henry III. (Some 170 of the fiefs held in chief of the Crown in Domesday Book were large enough to be regarded as "baronies," even though the term was not then in use.) He discusses the shifting power balance in the country between the king on one side and the greater and lesser landowners on the other, and he follows the changes in required military service and the role of overseas properties. By 1350, while baronies certainly still existed, they can no longer be called feudal. This is an excellent overview of the subject by a scholar whose works are still closely studied.


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Pine, Leslie G. The Story of Titles. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1970. 176p.

From "Mister" to "Exalted Highness," the Anglo-European system of titles — often, in documents, the most visible indication of aristocratic connections, and probably the least understood — is made clear and comprehensible. The labels by which an historical figure is known may be the only clue, other than nomenclature, to his status in society and his relationships to other members of his class. Written for the relative beginner, but a good brush-up for anyone.


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Pine, Leslie G. Tales of the British Aristocracy. London: Burke Publishing Co. 1956. 226p.

His editorship of Burkeís Peerage and his long list of scholarly publications notwithstanding, Pineís greatest contribution to the peerage may be his skill at sheer storytelling. Strictly a non-reference book, this delightful volume discourses ingenuously on the ups and downs of a dozen impeccable British families, from the Howards (who rose from obscurity to the rank of senior peers of the realm, the dukes of Norfolk, in only a couple of centuries) and the Grosvenors (who took more than twice as long to become the fabulously wealthy dukes of Westminster) to the Nelsons (whose earls have no blood connection whatever with the naval genius of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar) and the Wellesleys (whose progenitor, the "Iron Duke," spent more years as a politician than as a military man). Then there are the De Courcys, who descend from a proven Companion of the Conqueror but have seldom risen above obscurity, and the Wavells, a family that frequently produced talented civil and military servants of the Crown (and were also involved in the colonization of Texas, in which they got shafted by Stephen F. Austin). Filling his work with anecdotes from both his own researches and personal experiences and with the results of the work of his many correspondents, Pine is very entertaining but still careful and accurate.


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Powell, J. Enoch & Keith Wallis. The House of Lords in the Middle Ages: a History of the English House of Lords to 1540. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968. 671p.

Powell, a member of Anthony Edenís government in the 1950s, wrote this extended and detailed survey, he says, because no history of the upper house (as distinct from a history of Parliament) had ever been published. (Wallis is the scholar who took all of Powellís research and whipped it into publishable shape.) The House of Lords exists because the successful exercise of authority requires seeking the counsel of "the most eminent or influential or representative of the governed," and thereís a surprising amount of structural continuity from the Witan, dating to King Alfred and before, to the early convocations of Duke William. The kingís court was gradually Normanized, however, and by the time King John had lost Normandy and been put in his place by the irritated barons, the upper levels of power in the kingdom had changed dramatically from what they had been a couple of centuries earlier. Powell attempts to cover only the first five hundred years of the Lords and he includes a good deal of genealogy and family history in sorting out aristocratic relationships. There are two dozen plates and hundreds of footnotes pointing the way to further research. As a politician, Powell was problematical at best, but he was an excellent historian.


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Rosenthal, Joel T. Nobles and the Noble Life, 1295–1500. (Historical problems: studies and documents series, no. 25) London: Allen & Unwin, 1976. 207p.

This auxiliary textbook is a very useful introductory study of the secular parliamentary peerage, beginning with Edward Iís "model parliament" in the late 13th century and extending to the end of the 15th century. The introductory first half of the volume treats the aristocracy as a class of individuals of high status and privilege, discusses the isolation of social rank, describes the sorting out of families into greater or lesser ranks (and of greater or lesser influence over the king), and provides a case study of the way an elite group is created and defined. Itís useful to know, for instance, that Edward never meant to create a peerage out of his great lords and vassals — certainly he never intended that they would acquire the ability to circumscribe royal power. There are also numerous sidebar discussions of individual peers and dynasties. The second half of the book comprises a collection of seventy-six highly documents that shed light on a wide variety of topics, including the text of a summons to Parliament in 1313, the impeachment of Suffolk in 1450, the ritual of an earlís burial, minutes of debate in the House of Lords in 1449, an accounting of John of Gauntís household expenses in 1383, a bond by the earl of Shrewsbury in 1468 to keep the peace and not bother the earl Grey or his retainers, a mythical history of the earls of Warwick (as claimed by themselves), the foundation of Bisham Priory in 1339 by the Montagues, and the granting of a royal pension in 1388 to the widow of the earl of Oxford.


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Sanders, I. J. English Baronies: A Study of their Origin and Descent, 1086–1327. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960. xiv, 203p.

In the 13th century, neither the king nor his tenants-in-chief was quite sure who qualified as a baron, nor on what grounds. In most cases, baronial status was a matter of tradition and custom, not the legal niceties of our own day. One way to determine who the barons actually were in Anglo-Norman England is to examine the fine rolls and pipe rolls to see who paid baronial relief, and in doing just that Sanders has identified more than two hundred baronial estates, more than one-third of which may only be considered "probables." Each listing summarizes the evidence and includes the descent of the estate from the first known tenant, marriages of the daughters of the house, and the status of the estate in 1327. About half of each page consists of details notes and citations, so this is an excellent quick reference and starting point for further research.


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Shaw, Karl. Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty. NY: Broadway Books, 1999. ix, 325p.

This author apparently specializes in books about the tasteless, gross, and unspeakable — his own words — but he seems to have done his research on the dubious mental health, psychopathic behavior, and unbridled sexual antics of most of the royal families of Europe over the past three centuries. It was noted by many contemporary observers, in fact, that in 1801, virtually every hereditary monarch was demonstrably insane. The Bourbons, Hanoverians, Habsburgs, Braganzas, Romanovs, Wittenbergs, Wittelsbachs, and Hohenzollerns all were monstrously inbred, the result of negative eugenics as a matter of state policy. Extreme ugliness, dwarfishness, and physical deformities which were rare in the general public were common enough in the palaces of Europe. And even a relatively healthy newcomer like Napoleon III Bonaparte took full advantage of the royal prerogative to frolic among his horde of mistresses unhindered. Moreover, the full public schedule of even a young royal generally meant that no prince or princess received much of an education and many were barely able to sign their names. Nor is 20th century Britain immune to these personal and dynastic shortcomings. In 1941, five members of the Bowes-Lyon family, including two of Queen Elizabethís nieces, were confined to a mental hospital in Surrey on the same day; Buckingham Palace later lied to Burkeís Peerage about their existence, ignoring the fact that several of them were still alive in an NHS ward in the mid-1980s. This semi-tabloid volume would have been improved by footnotes and an index. Nevertheless, the genealogist who discovers a link to royalty among his ancestors might think twice before publicizing the fact.


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Smith, Robert & John Moore (eds.). The House of Lords: a Thousand Years of British Tradition. London: Smithís Peerage, 1994. xix, 223p.

This was the first of three books issued by this publisher on the subject of the British Constitution, the others being on the Monarchy (also in this bibliography) and the House of Commons. It consists of an extended Introduction and a series of thirteen papers first presented at a conference sponsored by the Manorial Society of Great Britain. The results are specialized and quasi-academic but not beyond most readers, and all are worth the reading. Most comprise a series of first-rate surveys of the evolution of the House of Lords and the English peerage generally, from the Anglo-Saxon witan up to the present day, all by experts in their field, including David Cannadine, Adam Bruce, and John Cannon. These are followed by pieces by Enoch Powell ("Will the Lords Survive?"), Lord Sudeley ("A Working Peer"), Keith Wallis ("Classless Society?"), and Smithís own contribution, "Addressing Persons of Rank," which largely seems taken directly from Emily Post. He throws in lots of interesting tidbits, though: E.g., parliamentary barons are never referred to such, except in their patents and on the Roll of the House of Lords; elsewhere, they are called simply "Lords." Everything is thoroughly footnoted, though there is no separate bibliography.


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Tuck, Anthony. Crown and Nobility: England, 1272–1461. 2d ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999. xvi, 357p.

During the first two centuries following the Conquest, the English system developed two characteristics that distinguished it from the rest of western Europe: The monarchy became highly centralized and exercised its authority through institutions that were generally subordinate to the royal will, and the higher nobility was not merely regional but sought to exercise political influence directly over the king and his ministers. The Court was the center of all power in the country, far more so than in France or Germany. Nor was the English nobility a caste, as in France, but might be considered rather to include all men of knightly rank and above — perhaps 5,000 by the mid-13th century. There was not a sharp distinction between the relatively small number of men who bore titles and their followers because of the longstanding fellowship among those who bore arms. Nevertheless, those who opposed King John and Henry III represented the wealthiest and most influential segment of the nobility, and Tuck thinks this led to a greater division between the titled and the lesser landowning class in the later medieval period. And when the great barons found in 1327 that they could remove the wholly unsatisfactory Henry II, their self-image and policies changed and no succeeding monarch was ever quite absolute. From the accession of Edward I to the deposition of Edward VI, the relationship between Crown and nobility evolved radically, thanks in large part to what Tuck calls the "unfortunate personalities" of Edward II, Richard II, and Henry VI.


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Wallace Hadrill, John Michael. Early Germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. xi, 160p.

A collection of excellent academic essays on the convoluted governmental/feudal systems that evolved under Ethelbert, Charlemagne, Offa, Charles the Bald, and others, all of which got us where we are today. Genealogy is almost incidental here, part of the political process.


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Historical Development: The Continent


Adamson, John (ed.). The Princely Courts of Europe: Ritual, Politics and Culture under the Ancien Régime, 1500–1750. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1999. 352p.

Any aristocracy wants to extend its influence socially and geographically, and its first task in that pursuit is to be noticed, especially by means of very conspicuous consumption. In Europe between the Renaissance and the French Revolution, this meant the development of the court as probably the most important influence in a nationís political and cultural life. This lush volume surveys twelve of the great courts, from England, France, Russia, and Spain, to the princely establishments of Florence, Savoy, and Bavaria, as well as the singular oddity of the papal court in Rome. In addition to the pretty pictures — which are very numerous — the specialist authorities who wrote the chapters have investigated and largely reinterpreted the function of the European court. Whom, exactly, were they designed to impress? Were they really instruments of absolutism? How did they function, day to day? The picture that results is much more subtle than one might suppose, especially in the subject of power and patronage.


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Bush, Michael L. Noble Privilege. (The European Nobility, vol. 1) Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1983. ix, 294p.

This amazingly thorough study investigates the aristocracy (which Bush uses as a synonym for "nobility") on the Continent as a class or order, with very little mention of individuals and their peculiarities or departures from the norm. His approach is synthetic with heavy reliance on secondary sources, but in that regard this multi-volume work has become the standard resource. The crux of noble privilege, he says, is that for the past thousand years it has been "not merely an expression of social superiority or of economic and political advantage" but "essentially a juridical fact." Such privilege existed not because of lax enforcement of the law but by explicit legal provision, and the special privileges of the nobility remained generally secure on the Continent until the French Revolution swept most of them away. Moreover, while titles and lands had long been the result of a contract between the aristocrat and the monarch, especially in France, by the 17th century the failure of a noble family to fulfill its obligations toward the ruler no longer resulted in demotion to the ranks. Beyond these general points, and following a discussion of the historical roots of the titled class, the author considers in great detail the nature and character of fiscal exemption and private taxation, judicial privileges and indemnity from state service, parliamentary and office-holding privileges, and the right to rank and title. All of these topics are heavily footnoted and Bush includes a very lengthy bibliography.


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Bush, Michael L. Rich Noble, Poor Noble. (The European Nobility, vol. 2) Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1988. vi, 234p.

This sequel to Noble Privilege follows the same methods and has the same limitation to mostly secondary sources, and it continues Bushís very detailed study of the nuts and bolts of the noble order on the Continent. This time heís concerned with questions of diversity and mutability: Under what circumstances did the noble class grow or diminish, how did one enter the ranks of the aristocracy, how might one (or oneís descendants) be de-nobled, what were the actual difference in station between those nobles who were wealthy and those who were not, and how did the latter dissimilarity affect personal conduct, choice of residence, and the necessity of trade? Again, the style is scholarly but quite accessible and the bibliography is very thorough.


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Dewald, Jonathan. The European Nobility, 1400–1800. (New Approaches to European History series, no. 9) Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. xvii, 209p.

Unlike the two systematic studies by Michael Bush, to which he refers approvingly, Dewald offers an extended interpretative essay, the theme of which is the evolution of the Continental nobility (or aristocracy — he regards the terms as overlapping but distinct in meaning) during the four centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the arrival of the French Revolution. Though small in absolute numbers, the nobility controlled most of the land and all of the politics on the Continent until well into the 19th century, and the author maintains that they managed to do this despite wars, revolutions, and the coming of modern industry because they were very effective in adapting to the changes around them. He also argues that from one country and culture to the next, nobles faced similar problems and responded to them in very similar ways. Intended as an introductory text on the subject, this is an excellent historical survey for the beginning student.


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Duggan, Anne. J. (ed.). Nobles and Nobility in Medieval Europe: Concepts, Origins, Transformations. Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2000. x, 285p.

This is a collection of fourteen high-quality essays on the origins and development (especially political) of the ruling classes in Europe from the 5th to the late 15th centuries. All but one (a study of Roger Mortimer by David Carpenter) originally were presented as papers at an international conference at Kingís College, London, in 1998. The authors are all well-known and the subjects range geographically from England and France to Poland, Norway, and Portugal. I found two papers of special interest: "The Origins of the Nobility in Francia" by Paul Fouracre and Janet Nelsonís "Nobility in the Ninth Century"; the chapters concerned with linguistics and literature were less useful. Martin Aurell ends the volume with "The Western Nobility in the Late Middle Ages: A Survey of the Historiography and Some Prospects for New Research," an excellent pointer to neglected subjects in which work needs badly to be done. Some volumes of this type include a catch-all bibliography covering all the included topics; this one, unfortunately, does not, but thatís a minor criticism.


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Lieven, Dominic C. B. The Aristocracy in Europe, 1815–1914. NY: Columbia University Press, 1993. xxiv, 308p.

The enobled upper class in the 19th century viewed the Industrial Revolution and (in Britain) the expansion of the franchise in quite a different light from the middle classes. To them, increased educational and occupational opportunities were an economic and social threat to their power and right to rule. Comparing the aristocracies in Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia, the author investigates their "strategies" (rather too active a term, but itís accepted jargon) and the ways they responded to the danger. What he finds, not surprisingly, is that each national group responded in its own way to the challenge from the lower classes in its own country. Even the most moss-bound, autocratic English lord could barely conceive of the literal power of life and death enjoyed by Russian noblemen over their serfs. By the First World War, the untitled middle classes, the self-made men — especially in Britain and Germany — had begun to rival the aristocracy in economic power and in some cases was actively infiltrating it through marriage and purchase of estates. On the other hand, the new class of millionaires included a few aristocratic magnates whose wealth was industrial, however ancient their titles. Lieven is a political economist with a strong background in Russian affairs and this is a thoroughly academic volume, complete with statistics and charts, but itís an important work on the decline of aristocratic power.


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Lukowski, Jerzy. The European Nobility in the Eighteenth Century. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

It goes almost without saying that the power and authority of the aristocracies of Europe depended on social and cultural stability — the nobility is naturally conservative, no matter how disparate their tangible wealth. But in the 18th century, that stability was threatened by new ideas and technologies, especially democracy and the Industrial Revolution. Lukowski addresses the issues of class identity and wealth vs. birth and examines the effects of upward pressures from the working and merchant classes on their betters. Because the author is a specialist in Poland and the Baltic, this study reflects his interests (for the Western European version of the same events, he refers the reader to Albert Goodwinís study of the same name), which may limit its appeal for some. Nevertheless, this is a useful study of how aristocracy dealt with sociopolitical threats to its existence.


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Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh. Burkeís Royal Palaces of Europe. London: Burkeís Peerage, 1984, 1983. 208p.

This is an oversized volume filled with photographs (about one-quarter of them in color) of the residences of royal families, including those of Britain, France, Austria, the German states, Greece, the Balkan states, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, the Italian peninsula, Spain and Portugal, and the micro-states of Monaco and Liechtenstein. Besides the architectural discussions (interesting but not germane to this bibliography), thereís a great deal on how public buildings established the image of monarchy, whether autocratic or democratic, in the public mind. Fontainebleau, Versailles, Windsor Castle, Charlottenburg, Hampton Court, the Russian Winter Palace, SchŲnbrunn, Neuschwanstein, and the "pink palace" in Monte Carlo all have very different messages to impart. The author, who spent a decade on the editorial staff of Burkeís, also is very knowledgeable about the dynastic trials and tribulations, successes and bragging rights that produced these showplaces, as well as the failures that led to many of them being converted to state-owned museums.


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Reuter, Timothy (ed.). The Medieval Nobility: Studies on the Ruling Classes of France and Germany from the Sixth to the Twelfth Century. (Europe in the Middle Ages, Selected Studies, vol. 14) Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co; NY: Elsevier, 1978. x, 376p.

These ten chapters (by nine authors) all were originally published in German academic journals or anthologies between 1959 and 1975, and to a greater or lesser degree all suffer from being excessively "Germanic" in style. For the purposes of this bibliography, some are more interesting than others, especially "Important Noble Families in the Kingdom of Charlemagne," by Karl Ferdinand Werner, and "From the Carolingian Imperial Nobility to the German Estate of Imperial Princes," by Gerd Tellenbach, both of which name a lot of names. Other chapters, such as Karl Boslís "ĎNoble Unfreedomí: The Rise of the Ministeriales in Germany," are unlikely to make oneís heart beat faster.


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Present-Day Surveys


Hindley, Geoffrey. The Royal Families of Europe. NY: Carroll & Graf; London: Constable, 2000. 306p.

Every so often, some author or editor suddenly discovers that Europe is still full of monarchies, as well as pretenders to various thrones, and a new, updated book gets written, giving details on the historical background and present-day situation of each royal personage. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though many such books are written in too breathless a style to be of much serious interest. Hindley is an unapologetic monarchist who believes a constitutional (as opposed to absolute) sovereign is the "most trouble-free method available of choosing a head of state." He begins with those countries where monarchs are still politically involved, even though their countries are now republics (heís especially partial to royal informality in Sweden), and continues with an assessment of future prospects in constitutional monarchies. (Personal wealth helps; Prince Hans Adam of Liechtenstein probably could buy or sell his diminutive nation outright.) Itís difficult to work up much enthusiasm for the various Balkan monarchs, all of whom were overthrown with prejudice, and France represents a singular case, its history being filled with republics interspersed with monarchies. Ranier of Monaco, though somewhat autocratic in his actions, did wonders in making secure the political and economic independence of his state, and the restoration of the Spanish royals was actually a step toward restored democracy. In fact, Hindley is a fan of King Juan Carlos, who took a very strong personal role (for a modern European monarch) in putting down the attempted military coup of 1980. The authorís style is factual and highly readable and — except for a number of regrettable lapses in copyediting and proofreading — this volume will do very well until the next one is published.


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Lacey, Robert. Aristocrats. Boston: Little, Brown, 1983. 248p.

The Countess Mariae Gloria [etc.] von Schonburg-Glauchau, who now goes by her married name of Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, is a 22-year-old mother of two daughters who is disarmingly aware of her principal function as a wife: to produce a Thurn und Taxis male heir. (She got one on the third try, after this book was published.) One cannot become an aristocrat, she says; one can only be born one. But her family works at it. Besides being the largest landowners in Germany, they own farms in the U.S. state of Georgia, a big piece of the Matto Grosso, and eleven castles and palaces, among a great many other holdings. The Duke of Edinburgh, invited to a boar hunt, expressed disbelief that a private family could live so grandly without receiving (as the Windsors do) financial assistance from the state. "What do you expect?" responded Prince Johannes. "No workey, no money." Lacey gives a similarly witty, insightful, and fascinating view of the Duke of Westminster (the richest man in England), the Duchess of Medinaceli (owner of more than a hundred castles and fifty titles), Prince Franz Josef of Liechtenstein, and several more of their elite colleagues. Thereís also quite a lengthy bibliography but this is worth reading for the anecdotes alone.


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Paxman, Jeremy. On Royalty: a Very Polite Inquiry into Some Strangely Related Families. NY: PublicAffairs, 2007. ix, 370p. Bibliography.

The author displays a winning combination of erudition, wit, and journalistic skill in considering the nature of the contemporary British royal family and its ability to survive, with occasional comparisons to earlier generations (especially the Stewarts) and to other European royalty. Each chapter revolves around one aspect of what it means to be royal, including choosing the right parents (personal talents have absolutely nothing to do with it), marriage and production of an heir (continuing the line is the first duty, always), learning how to be "royal" (and how to deal with the boredom that comes with extremely restricted freedom of movement), the monarch and religion (a special and rather subtle case in Great Britain), the special relationship of the monarch to the military (with some very astute psychological parallels between the two institutions), and the strange identification between the sovereign and the people (much stronger at the lower levels of society than at the higher). Other chapters deal with Edward VIII and the abdication crisis, and why it was a peculiarly British situation, and with the familyís prospects for the future. Even though Britain is a parliamentary democracy, and the sovereign has no authority whatever, and even though the notion of royalty offends the very foundations of democracy, there is almost no popular support for a British republic. In fact, republicanism in Britain is regarded as a "harmless hobby." Paxman manages not to drift too far into gossip, except when anecdotes are germane, even in his judgments of the Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana, neither of whom he was much impressed by. For that matter, he points out that the problematic intellectual level of the House of Windsor, from Edward VIII on, isnít necessarily a bad thing.