The Old Booksmith


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

Historical & Genealogical Case Studies








Historical Studies: Britain, Scotland, & Ireland


Altschul, Michael. A Baronial Family in Medieval England: The Clares, 1217-1314. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965. 332p.

The Clares were descendants of Godfrey FitzRichard, eldest illegitimate son of Richard I "the Fearless," Duke of Normandy. Godfreyís grandson, Richard FitzGilbert, took part in the Conquest and became the first Norman lord of Clare in Ireland, serving also as co-regent of England during the kingís absences. William rewarded his cousins well, granting them enormous fiefs in half a dozen counties. They became earls of Gloucester and Hereford and heirs to the earldoms of Ulster and March. They were active for generations in the Welsh and Scots wars and produced some of the most highly regarded (and feared) politicians and diplomats in England. Altschul, while providing a great deal of contextual genealogy, is really more interested in the family as a corporate business entity and in its management of its vast holdings during changing economic and political conditions. A very highly regarded book and a model of research methods in medieval England, as well as a work of clearly written prose accessible to anyone with a general knowledge of the period. Why arenít there more case studies like this?


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Anderson, Marjorie O. Kings and Kingship in Early Scotland. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1973. xviii, 310p.

Though the style is semi-academic, the text is often dense, and the notes and citations are somewhat technical, there exits no better analysis of the regnal lists of Dalriada and the Picts, which by their union in the 9th century formed the nucleus of Scotland. A highly trustworthy interpretative source.


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Auchincloss, Louis. Persons of Consequence: Queen Victoria and Her Circle. NY: Random House, 1979. 208p.

Any monarch is associated with individuals whose influence they inevitably will feel, whether that influence is sought by either side or not. Victoria was no exception through her long reign, but the sort of people with whom she surrounded herself changed as she aged — and especially after the death of the Prince Consort, when the Queen went into near-seclusion. Some of those who had her ear were, naturally, aristocrats, and some of those were politicians, especially Lord Melbourne during her earlier reign. Others came from the upper middle class, like Disraeli (whom she admired) and Gladstone (whom she disliked almost to paranoia). Still others were household staff and servants, including Sir Henry Ponsonby, her tactful private secretary, her doctor, Sir William Jenner (who was completely under her thumb), and John Brown, her rough-hewn "gillie" and personal servant whom both the court and her own children despised. And as her children grew up and married into European royal and noble families, Victoria began an intense correspondence, especially with her eldest daughter, Victoria, mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II, who also tried to influence British affairs through his grandmother in her last years. The author brings his trademark attention to detail and sense of style to this first-rate study of the "off the record" side of a monarchís existence.


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Brook, Lindsay L. (ed.). Studies in Genealogy and Family History in Tribute to Charles Evans on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday. Salt Lake City: Association for the Promotion of Scholarship in Genealogy, 1989. ix, 436p.

This scholarly festschrift includes twenty-three essays (variously in English, French, German, and Spanish) by such noted genealogists as David H. Kelley, Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Milton Rubincam, Walter Lee Sheppard, and Prince Cyril Toumanoff. Subjects range from the parentage of Catherine díArtois and the continuing influences of the family of Aethelred under the Norman domination to a general "Critique of Spanish Genealogy." The level of scholarship and expression is uniformly high and the variety of topics and the authorsí approaches make this almost a book of "readings" for the ambitious royal genealogist.


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Camp, Anthony J. My Ancestors Came with the Conqueror: Those Who Did and Some of Those Who Probably Did Not. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1993 (London: Society of Genealogists, 1988). 89p.

Probably something on the order of 8,000 mounted knights fought for Duke William of Normandy at Hastings in 1066, but only a very small number of those can actually be identified. In 1931, a bronze commemorative tablet was erected at Falaise in Normandy which included the names of 315 men who were claimed to be proven Companions of the Conqueror, but even that number turns out to be too large by a factor of more than ten. The names were taken from several sources: Guillaume de Poitiers, who was Williamís chaplain; Bishop Guy of Amiens, almoner to Queen Matilda, who wrote a Latin poem on the battle; Guillaume de Jumieges, who dedicated his Gesta Normanorum to the Conqueror; Roger du Mont and Robert Torigny, who continued that work; Oderic Vital, a monk born nine years after Hastings, who spent several years in England collecting evidence on the battle; and Wace, a Jersey-born poet born in 1100 who mentions 118 knights by name in his Roman de Rou. The Bayeux Tapestry is another source which names a very few of those present at Hastings. The principal source for the list of Companions was for many years the Roll of Battle Abbey, but that was shown in the past century to be very unreliable. Dr. T. R. Thomson, spurred by the Falaise celebrations, re-examined the sources in a key article late in 1931, and the following year Geoffrey H. White read an important paper before the Society of Genealogists confirming Thomsonís conclusions. Prof. David C. Douglas went back to the beginning in another major paper in 1944 and White published an extensive commentary on that effort, as well. And how many Companionsí names have survived this rigorous academic process? Nineteen — fifteen of them certain and four others highly probable. All, of course (with the exception of Bishop Odo), were founders of great noble families in England. All the articles mentioned have been conveniently reprinted in this slender volume, together with a list of all the names claimed by all the sources, including six variant copies of the Battle Abbey Roll, the Falaise Roll of 1931, and Leopold Delisleís Dives Roll, published in 1863. This is a key source not only for sorting out the claims of various ancient families to ancestral presence at Hastings, but also a nearly complete list of all those families whose progenitors showed up in England anywhere from a year to several generations later.


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Cannon, John Ashton. The Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy. NY: Oxford University Press, 1988. 727p.

The history of Great Britain since the 5th century is largely the history of its sovereigns, and vice versa, and this fat volume is a success on both scores. Beginning with the early Celtic kings who brought some form of organization to early British (and Welsh and Irish) society, Cannon escorts the reader through the islandís history, reign by reign, from Rśdwald of the East Angles to Elizabeth II, tracing the waxing and waning of the monarchís personal power, noting royal marriages and interments, wars and treaties, glorious victories and humiliating failures. A great deal of the personal is included along with the politics, as when the young Edward VI coolly notes the execution in 1552 of his uncle, the Duke of Somerset, and the exasperated Queen Anneís attempts in 1703 to reason with her Whig ministers. The numerous illustrations, many in color, add to the flavor of the narrative as well as the readerís understanding. This book may be the only general history of the British monarchy that any student would ever need.


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Cook, Petronelle. Queen Consorts of England: The Power behind the Throne. NY: Facts on File, 1993. x, 309p.

Any study of the royal dynasties of Great Britain usually treats a monarchís spouse as a shadowy figure of no real importance, once the diplomatically important marriage has been made. Yes, there are exceptions. No one doubts the active nature of Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom Henry II found it expedient to lock away, and Henry VIIIís repudiation of Catherine of Aragon was of momentous historical importance to the English — but what about Matilda of Boulogne, who was utterly unable to control or even to moderate the chaos caused by King Stephen? Or Berengaria of Navarre, pro forma wife of the possibly homosexual Richard I? (Cook calls her "the first unlucky Spanish-born English queen".) Or Mary of Teck, queen of George V? (Though, after Parliament took control of the nation for good, itís debatable whether even the king could have any significant power.) Since she has to cover thirty-seven royal spouses, the author, a professional archaeologist with an M.A. from Oxford, is unable to spend much time on any one of them, but her writing style is clear and concise and this is a pretty good non-scholarly introduction to the other side of the throne.


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Donaldson, Gordon. Scottish Kings. 2d ed. London: Batsford, 1977. 224p.

From his description of Alexander III being installed at Scone in 1249 — in rites reminiscent of a pagan tribal chief instead of the Christian monarch of a western European nation — to the sparsely attended coronation of James VI three centuries later (the result of a precarious revolution that deposed his predecessor), the author explores the reign of each monarch and sets him (or her) against the broader canvas of European history. Donaldson is one of the foremost authorities on Scottish history up to the unification of the island and his scholarship is impeccable, but he also has a happy talent for clear and colorful narrative. A good overview of the dynastic machinations and complex foreign relations that kept the Scottish monarchy on its toes.


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Foss, Arthur. The Dukes of Britain. NY: St. Martin, 1986. 189p.

The British hereditary peerage (barons and above) today numbers some 900, not counting the four royal duchies — but of the four dozen or so dukedoms created, only twenty-six survive today: eighteen of England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom; six of Scotland; and two more of Ireland only. Of these, only three — Norfolk, Somerset, and Hamilton — predate Charles II, who created four dukedoms for his illegitimate sons. Nevertheless, the present hereditary dukes bear the names (and subordinate titles) of the great medieval and Tudor families: Fitzalan, Howard, Seymour, Vere, Douglas, Montagu, Mowbray, Percy, Beaufort, and Fitzgerald, among others. Moreover, only two of the surviving dukedoms — Marlborough and Wellington — were conferred originally on men who held no hereditary title of any kind at the start of their careers. And with present sentiment regarding hereditary peerages at its lowest ebb in centuries, there are unlikely to be any new creations. Some dukes lived like potentates with miniature courts, others made shrewd marriages, many were active Whigs, some heeded the warnings of the Industrial Revolution and established philanthropies and learned societies. But all have shared in what Trollope called "the ancient mystery of wealth and rank." An engrossing, well illustrated, sometimes titillating book which does not spare its subjects the foibles of their ancestries.


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Given-Wilson, Chris & Alice Curteis. The Royal Bastards of Medieval England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984. ix, 195p.

Royal promiscuity sometimes has political consequences, as demonstrated in 1483 when Richard, Duke of Gloucester and brother of the recently deceased Edward IV, had his royal nephews declared illegitimate. He acceded as Richard III, the "princes in the Tower" were never seen again, and the Plantagenet royal line ended two years later at Bosworth Field. Ironically, the victor there, Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, was descended on one side from a legitimized bastard of one of Edward IIIís sons and on the other from a Welsh clerk who had secretly married a former queen of England. It might be said that the crowning of Henry VII marked the low point of the concept of legitimacy in determining the succession to the throne of England. Medieval monarchs married not for love, of course, but for political reasons — to acquire territory or to cement alliances. Personal compatibility and mutual consent were irrelevant (with occasional exceptions, such as Edward IVís secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville, which outraged his advisors). The Church preached the indissolubility of the marriage bond but that didnít carry much weight with the aristocracy and the monarch. So itís not surprising that kings had mistresses. Sometimes these were casual liaisons, sometimes the relationship spanned many years and produced multiple offspring. Henry I had twenty illegitimate children whom he acknowledged, and three or four others have good claims. Adding in the unknowns who didnít survive early infancy, a total of forty bastards by this one king is not impossible. (Even Charles II only managed sixteen.) The exceptions also are surprising: William the Conqueror, himself a bastard, was singled out by the chroniclers for the purity of his personal life. The authors examine in great detail the sort of women who became royal mistresses between the Conquest and Bosworth, what sort of future awaited their offspring, and why some of those children went to the headsmanís block for rebellion while others had distinguished military and diplomatic careers and founded noble lines of their own. Detailed lineages are supplied and discussed at length, which makes this a very useful source in an area not often covered in sufficient detail, as well as an intriguing study in its own right.


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Goodman, Anthony. John of Gaunt: The Exercise of Princely Power in Fourteenth-Century Europe. NY: St. Martin, 1992. xiii, 421p.

John, Duke of Lancaster, was the son of Edward III, father of Edward IV, uncle of Richard II, and himself the pretender to the throne of Castile. He was also the richest and most powerful subject in England for most of his life — and probably the most deeply and widely hated. He was certainly the principal target of the Peasantsí Revolt of 1381. A key player in the Hundred Years War, he was also on close terms with John Wycliffe and Geoffrey Chaucer. Johnís controversial career is thus at the very heart of English society and European politics during one of the nationís most turbulent periods, and this semi-scholarly and authoritative examination of the dukeís mental processes, institutional goals, and dynastic ambitions is very useful to the understanding of England on the brink of a three-generation civil war.


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Guy, John (ed.). The Tudor Monarchy. NY: St Martinís Press, 1997. x, 391p.

This collection of readings brings together fifteen "benchmark" essays — those that have been formative in recent Tudor scholarship — by a number of key authors in the field. The three sections consider the nature of monarchy in the Renaissance, the role of personality in royal politics, and the exercise of power outside the immediate court. Of particular interest here are David Starkeyís "Representation through Intimacy: A Study in the Symbolism of Monarchy," Steven Gunnís "The Courtiers of Henry VII," Simon Adamsís "Favourites and Factions at the Elizabeth Court," and Margaret Condonís "Ruling Elites in the Reign of Henry VII." The style varies from merely academic to densely so, but they should accessible to upper-division students.


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Hansen, Mark. The Royal Facts of Life: Biology and Politics in Sixteenth-Century Europe. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1980. 353p.

Procreation is a natural function for everyone, but for a hereditary head of state, itís a great deal more. In 16th century Europe, especially, when public health was a low ebb, the purported causes of disease were fanciful, and hygiene was nonexistent, life expectancy was not high even for the aristocracy and infant survival was problematic. Only two-thirds of the children born to the English peerage in this period reached the age of fifteen. The monarchs of the four ruling families upon which Hansen concentrates his attention — the Tudors, Stewarts, Valois, and Habsburgs — were perfectly aware of this constant danger to the stability of their dynasties, and it was consequently the principal responsibility of every royal wife to become pregnant as frequently as possible and for as many years as possible. But even the production of a large brood of descendants was no guarantee of success, as witness the Tudor paranoia and lung disease, the Stewart porphyria, and the extreme intermarriage of the Habsburgs which probably was responsible for the frequent appearance of insanity in all three of the familyís main branches. The author provides also a number of charts and tables showing the bloody effects of Tudor "birth control," the competing claims to the throne of France, and the intricacies of Habsburg family relations.


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Herman, Eleanor. Sex with Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge. NY: Morrow, 2004. xii, 287p.

From the earliest times, given the purely political nature of royal marriages, where there was a king, there was most likely a royal mistress — or several. Edward III of England had some twenty illegitimate children, and Alice Perrers, his last paramour, nearly emptied the treasury and became one of the greatest landowners in the country. Charles VII of France had the much more subtle Agnes Sorel, a charismatic and patriotic woman whose friendship was highly valued. But when the Renaissance arrived, the royal courtesan became a much more public figure, a mover and shaker in court affairs, and often a dynastic force on behalf of her own family. Francis I even invented the title of maÓtresse-en-titre — official royal mistress. In later centuries, King Ludwig of Bavaria had Lola Montez and Napoleon III had Virginie di Castiglione, and even Prince Charles had (still has) Camilla Parker-Bowles. The author, who specializes in popular history from the womanís perspective, does a generally good job, even including source citations and a respectable bibliography.


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Hinde, Thomas. Courtiers: 900 Years of Court Life. London: Victor Gollancz, 1986. 219p.

Hinde is a novelist and author of popular histories, not an academic, but heís also a fan of John Aubreyís Brief Lives. He attempts here, with some success, to compile a similar volume of short biographical sketches of those men and women who gather around any English monarch — not the military or administrative specialists who actually serve the state rather than the individual, but the persons who used to be regarded as members of the monarchís household. These, he says, are properly "courtiers." Those who were companions of the ruler naturally wielded some reflected political power. Even when the ruler was forced to cede power to Parliament, many parliamentary leaders began their careers in the royal household. His approach is chronological, beginning with Norman and Plantagenet hangers-on like Eudo Dapifer and the Nevilles, and then Yorkists and Lancastrians like Piers Gaveston, Anthony Woodville, and Geoffrey Chaucer. The Tudors had the Boleyns, the Seymours, and the Howards, as well as Philip Sidney, Walter Raleigh, and Robert Devereux. The progression continues, with well-known figures like Simon Harcourt, John Churchill, and Fanny Burney alternating with relatively minor players like Anne Vane and the Rev. Francis Willis and his sons. Victoria had John Brown and Henry Ponsonby, of course, and Edward VIII had the son, Frederick Ponsonby. (Hinde declines to discuss the often shadowy figures who surround Elizabeth II.) None of these sketches runs more than a couple of pages, but the effect is cumulative and the reader will gain a feeling for the long-lasting institution of courtiership itself.


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James, Mervyn. Society, Politics and Culture: Studies in Early Modern England. NY: Cambridge University Press, 1986. vii, 483p.

James is a highly regarded British historian, especially of the 15th and 16th centuries, and this anthology brings together nine of his best-known essays, many of which first appeared in volumes which are otherwise out of print. Three of these, dealing with affairs in the North, are of special interest here: "A Tudor Magnate and the Tudor State," which deals with Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland, who was remarkable for being able to successfully assert his will on Henry VIII; "Change and Continuity in the Tudor North," which investigates the activities of Thomas Wharton, 1st Baron Wharton, a typical border lord in the Scottish marches on behalf of the king, and who was closely connected with the DíAcres and other great Cumberland families; and "The First Earl of Cumberland and the Rise of Northern Feudalism," which investigates the ways in which Henry VIII reluctantly found it necessary to depend on the nobility in maintaining order in his kingdom — in this case Henry Clifford, whose family thrived following a strategic marriage with the Viponts. The authorís clear and easy style balances his strongly academic approach and makes his work quite accessible even to nonspecialists.


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Jenner, Heather. Royal Wives. NY: St. Martin, 1967. 247p.

While we think of English kings (before the 19th century, anyway) as statesmen and warriors, Jenner prefers to approach them as husbands and fathers. To that end, she provides here a useful overview, in thirty brief, unfootnoted chapters, of the spouses of all the monarchs from William I through William IV. Elizabeth is excluded, obviously, but Mary Tudor is included, as the wife of Philip II of Spain, as are Queen Anne and Queen Mary (partner in the firm of William-and-Mary). Thereís plenty of gossip and quotations from private correspondence, but the narrative is comfortably non-lurid. A good quick reference for the student of royal genealogy and an enjoyable read.


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Joelson, Annette. Heirs to the Throne: The Story of the Princes of Wales. London: Heinemann, 1966. 232p.

Prince Charles is the twenty-first Prince of Wales but only the third actually to be presented to the Welsh people at Caernarvon. Some of his predecessors were given the title in infancy, some not until adolescence. Moreover, of the twenty-six male monarchs of England, only half had previously been Princes of Wales; seven other Princes never reigned at all. Joelson, who spent most of her life in her native South Africa and thus tells the story as a semi-outsider, presents a competent enough narrative, but itís best used as a superficial introduction to the less known bearers of the title.


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Labarge, Margaret Wade. A Baronial Household of the Thirteenth Century. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1965. 235p.

Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester and the most powerful nobleman in the kingdom, married Eleanor Plantagenet, sister of Henry III and a formidable woman in her own right. Countess Eleanor, an efficient chatelaine, kept a roll or ledger of household affairs and accounts during 1265 (when she was managing Dover Castle after her husbandís death at the battle of Evesham). Even given her special station, Eleanorís surroundings and duties were typical of the upper class of her time and Labarge illuminates and interprets the details of these daily records, to which she adds information on etiquette and protocol, medical practices, and domestic management to present the conditions and attitudes that underlie the bare facts. A interesting "flesh on the bones" book.


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Mathew, David. The Courtiers of Henry VIII. London: Eyre & Spottiswood, 1970. 231p.

The late Archbishop Mathew was Apostolic Delegate to East and West Africa, a friend of Graham Greene, and a descendant himself of several regulars at the Tudor court. This somewhat slender volume is a collective biographical portrait (not quite a study) of more than two dozen important figures surrounding the king, from the Catholic chaplains of his early reign to the calculating older men in his later years who made their fortunes from the acquisition of monastic lands. He also draws sharp distinctions between the pietistic old Yorkist families and the much more subtle "modern" families of the next generation. Though there is an inevitable emphasis on religious figures, especially Bishop Fisher, the authorís breadth of knowledge and humanitarian style make this a useful and highly readable volume.


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Maurer, Helen E. Margaret of Anjou: Queenship and Power in Late Medieval England. Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2003. xii, 240p.

Married off at fifteen to the weak-minded and ineffectual Henry VI, Margaret — daughter of the glittering Duke Renť of Anjou — was one of the most powerful (and complex) personalities of the period called the "Wars of the Roses." Shakespeareís depiction of her as the "she-wolf of France" probably was closer to the truth than many of his characterizations. But in addition to explaining the details of her life, Maurer is interested in exploring the motivations that drive a woman placed in power by circumstances — and sheís careful to distinguish "power" from "authority," for Margaretís world depended on hierarchy and rank; public power wielded by a woman required subtlety, even in a queen. A first-rate, thoughtful analysis of the circumstances under which "queenship" becomes "kingship."


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Meisel, Janet. Barons of the Welsh Frontier: The Corbet, Pantulf, and Fitz Warin Families, 1066–1272. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980. xix, 231p.

From the Conquest to late in the 13th century was the age of baronial power in England, but for the most part, historians have treated them as an anonymous mass: "The barons rebelled," etc. The Bigods, Marshalls, Mortimers, Montforts, and a few others are well known, but what about those Meisel calls the "invisible barons"? Working from the particular to the general, she investigates in detail the lives, activities, policies, landholdings, and connections among three of the lesser baronial families in northern Shropshire, on the Welsh marches. The main thing these families had in common was their position the western frontier of Norman authority, which dominated their lives. To the marcher barons, 13th century England bore little resemblance to what was recorded by the monastic chroniclers; to them, Henry III was a good king who knew his place and Edward I was a dangerous upstart. With their private army, the Corbets lived like uncrowned kings in their own domain, and it was a marcher castle that led the Fitz Warins to rebel against King John. Much of this thoroughly scholarly work concerns land ownership and politics on the frontier, but of particular interest here is the detailed genealogical history the author provides of each of these relatively obscure baronial families.


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Miller, Helen. Henry VIII and the English Nobility. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986. 286p.

Whatever his personal and political faults, Henry VIII was astute in the art of governmental manipulation, weaving a network around the throne, and around the dynasty he was setting out to create, of old aristocratic families and newly created noblemen. By examining changes in the Tudor aristocracy through the way in which the king selected "new men," created new titles, promoted existing peers, and saw to it that the extinction of a title always redounded to his own advantage, Miller shows how Henryís attitudes, policies, and use of patronage reflected his dynastic insecurities. She also details the changing nature (and necessity) of the noblemanís attendance at court and in Parliament, and his participation in the kingís wars, and the system of rewards (in both lands and offices) to which the loyal peer could aspire. An appendix provides a list of titles in use during Henryís reign and their incumbents, organized by family name, which points up the inbred, almost conspiratorial nature of the relationship between the king and his court.


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Potts, D. M. & W. T. W. Potts. Queen Victoriaís Gene: Haemophilia and the Royal Family. Stroud, Gloucs., UK: Alan Sutton, 1995. xi, 160p.

One of the first instances of "genetic genealogy" was the investigation into the roots of the hemophilia that plagued the czarevich Alexei of Russia, the only son of Nicholas II, who probably wouldnít have lived long enough to become czar even if the Bolsheviks hadnít liquidated the imperial family. But Victoriaís son, Leopold, also died of complications of the disease, and it made its way into the Spanish royal family, as well. Where did the defective gene Victoria carried come from? There are only two medical possibilities: Either she was the victim of a random mutation — one chance in about 50,000 — or her father was hemophiliac. And since her father, Edward, Duke of Kent, did not have the disease, that would mean Victoria was illegitimate, the offspring of a hemophiliac lover of the Duchess of Kent. The duchess certainly did have a lover, and itís also possible, from all the evidence, that her husband the duke was sterile. In which case, the throne should rightfully have gone to King William IIIís next closest relative, . . . and who would that have been? This is quite a fascinating detective story, investigating in considerable depth the private lives of the Coburgs, and it leaves one to wonder how the 19th century in Britain might have been different if Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and subsequently king of Hanover (a very distasteful individual by all accounts, and a very unpopular ruler), had become king of Great Britain. (His eldest living descendant in the male line today is Ernest Augustus, Prince of Hanover and present husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco.)


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Robbins, Alice Emily. A Book of Duchesses; Studies in Personality. London: A. Melrose, 1913. 339p.

Robbins was a well-known author of romantic fiction at the turn of the 20th century, but she also sometimes turned her hand to light nonfiction. Here, she provides a very readable survey of duchesses from the reign of Charles II — "so fond of creating duchesses that he may well be considered the leading authority on the subject" — to Queen Victoriaís great confidant, the Duchess of Sutherland. There are also the Duchess of Bolton (an "actress-duchess"), the Duchess of Somerset (a "beautiful duchess"), the Duchess of Queensbury (a "quixotic duchess"), the Duchess of Hamilton ("twice a duchess"), and so on through seventeen chapters. The author is candid in stating that the book is a paste and scissors job, made up of scraps from diaries and memoirs, anecdotes and gossip, but sheís very skilled at her tailoring, especially since sheís far more interested in psychology than politics.


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Round, J. Horace. Family Origins and Other Studies. London: Constable & Co., 1930 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970). lxxiv, 302p.

This collection of articles and unpublished papers is a terrific book to open at random and just read. With titles like "The Mildmay Mystery," "The Heneage Fiction," and "An Approved Preconquest Pedigree," the reader can hardly go wrong. The Churchills, Cavendishes, and numerous other families also come in for their share of Roundís gimlet scrutiny in this memorial volume, which also includes a complete (and lengthy) bibliography of his writings.


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Round, J. Horace. Geoffrey de Mandeville; a Study of the Anarchy. London: Longmans, Green, 1892. xii, 461p.

Round, one of the more astute (and contentious) genealogical scholars for two decades on either side of the beginning of the 20th century, undertook this study of the period of aristocratic civil war following the death of Henry I in the light of the large number of charters granted or attested by Geoffrey de Mandeville, 1st Earl of Essex. Until his sudden death at the hands of an enemy bowman in 1144, Geoffrey was one of the major players during the Anarchy; to many historians, he typifies the period. Round, in fact, calls him "the most perfect and typical presentment of the feudal and anarchic spirit." Actually, his principal goal seems to have been to recover the lands seized from his father by Henry I, which he accomplished by playing each side in the struggle against the other. Of special interest, though, is Roundís habit of adding appendices to his books on whatever topics interested him, however tenuous their connection to the subject at hand. This volume includes twenty-eight brief essays on such notables as Gervase de Cornhill, Miles of Gloucester, William of Arques, Roger de Ramis, and the connection between the Mandevilles and the De Veres. There is also an extended essay on "The Creation of the Earldom of Gloucester." Roundís scholarship is always finely honed, though certain of his interpretations and conclusions are now out of fashion. And be warned that he follows the Victorian gentlemanís assumption that any educated person can handle Latin texts, so he never bothers to translate his frequent excerpts from medieval charters and historians.


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Round, J. Horace. Peerage and Pedigree: Studies in Peerage Law and Family History. 2v. London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1910 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970).

Only some of these essays are germane — "Tales of the Conquest," "Some ĎSaxoní Houses," etc. — but all are diverting and instructive. Round never hesitated to voice his opinions in print (supported by close reasoning), and whether he strained at gnats or pursued a fancied challenge to his scholarship, few others were willing to joust with him. His thirty-year feud with Edward Freeman, author of History of the Norman Conquest, is especially famous.


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Round, J. Horace. Studies in Peerage and Family History. Westminster, A. Constable & Co, 1901 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1970).

Detailed case studies of noble (but non-royal) English families, including Mowbray, Russell, Spencer, Stewart, and Ballon. Excellent and stimulating background reading, if you pay attention.


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Saul, Nigel. Knights and Esquires: the Gloucestershire Gentry in the Fourteenth Century. NY: Oxford University Press, 1981. xiii, 316p.

The emergence of what came to be called the "gentry" as a social order in the 1300s was a function of the development of the parliamentary peerage. Below the barons-by-writ was a layer of slightly lesser landowners with the rank of knight, and below them a still less substantial, undifferentiated group (called gentil hommes) who were not knights but still were greatly superior in status to the yeoman farmers. The nobles and the gentles became the greater and lesser nobility. The author notes that most medievalists have naturally focused their researches on the monarchy but in so doing they have missed the opportunity to investigate the network of connections that bound the king to the magnates and the gentry on whose goodwill he depended. Saul has chosen Gloucestershire for his study because of the diversity of geography and land use, leading to what he hopes is a typicality that can stand in for England as a whole during that period. There were also more religious houses in Gloucestershire than in any other part of the country, nearly all of whose manors were held by absentee lords. The Clares, Despensers, Berkeleys, Maltravers, and Giffards were major landowners here, with large quantities of surviving records. In those days of very slow communications, a great landowner whose estates were spread over many counties could only ensure their proper management by decentralization. Frequently, this meant hiring a nearby member of the gentry — often, but not always, a knight — to look after a local bailiwick. And this meant the preservation of information about the manager and his family in the surviving records. And by close association with higher-status aristocratic families, of course, a member of the gentry also gained in status. Quite a few gentle families of Gloucestershire who later acquired titles themselves are included in this study, and an increased understanding of their place in the scheme of things will repay a close study of this work.


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Searle, Eleanor. Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power, 840-1066. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. xi, 356p.

Until the past couple of decades, historians of the Anglo-Norman period posited that upon acquiring territory in northwest Francia and being more or less accepted as local rulers by the Carolingian rulers, the dukes of Normandy adopted French titles, religion, and political methods, especially that of strategic marriage. Searle (and many scholars since) thought this was nonsense, pointing out that the land of which Rolf and his peers became overlords was inhabited only by peasant farmers; there was no existing power structure for them to learn from or conform to. Instead, the web of power relationships that developed in Normandy depended on acceptance of a Norman gens which was political, not biological. She also shows that, for a variety of reasons, the lesser Norman nobles recognized that their best chance for power lay in their support of a common ruler — their duke — even though he originally was merely their equal in power and authority. All this in interesting for its own sake, but its importance to us is that Searle traces in detail the interconnections among the descendants of Duke Richard I, both legitimate and not, and the collateral descendants of Richardís wife, Gunnor. This includes the Beaumonts, Giffards, Clares, Warennes, Mortimers, Montgomerys, Tonis, Montforts, FitzOsberns, and Vernons, as well as the lords of Evreux, Breteuil, Rouen, and Meulan (some of both lists overlapping for a few generations). The authorís style is effortless and lucid, largely avoiding academic jargon and shorthand, making this a highly recommended study in the development and genealogy of the Normans as a people.


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Smyth, Alfred P. Scandinavian Kings in the British Isles, 850-880. London: Oxford University Press, 1977. x, 307p.

The viking invaders of Britain and Ireland in the ninth century, whom the English generically called "Danes," were not merely raiders but settlers who founded dynasties in Northumbria, the Orkneys and Hebrides, York, and Dublin that lasted for several centuries. All this activity produced an elaborate body of heroic literature in Scandinavia and it is the northern viewpoint rather than the English that Smyth adopts. The first of the lot was Ragnar Loðbrok (which translates roughly as "hairy ass"), who perished sword in hand, according to tradition, in the snake pit of King Aella of Northumbria. Ragnarís ancestry is unknown and probably unprovable but his progeny claimed as their grandfather Sigurd Ring — the "Siegfried" of the Niebelungenlied. His sons seized on their fatherís murder as justification for a retaliatory invasion but the process actually was one of economic and population pressure. Genealogy figures prominently in this study, since so many of the conqueror-rulers were blood-related. And what the monks of Lindisfarne recorded as pirate raids were, to the Norse, a well-organized campaign to occupy the fertile British Isles. This volume in the Oxford Historical Monograph series is a very readable treatment, supported by thorough footnotes and an extensive bibliography, of one of the main skeins of the history, language, and political tradition of England.


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Somerset, Anne. Ladies-in-Waiting, from the Tudors to the Present Day. NY: Knopf, 1984. x, 342p.

The position of Lady of the Privy Chamber or Maid of Honour has for centuries been eagerly sought by social climbers at court, while certain high-born ladies took the title as their due, but the names of very few have been remembered — with a few exceptions like Anne Boleyn. What influence might these intimates of a reigning queen or of the monarchís spouse have had, however peripheral, on the making of policy? Somerset (who doesnít say whether sheís connected in any way to the ducal house) is an "amateur historian," but a good one. She concentrates on court politics beginning with Henry VIII, partly because detailed records are too sparse in this regard prior to Bosworth, and partly because Henry VII only kept great state because it was expected of a king, but his son enjoyed it immensely and greatly expanded the number of offices at court. Because it can be difficult to find narrative histories of many of the families discussed here, like the Pomfrets, the Sundons, and the Cowpers, the genealogies woven into the footnoted text are especially welcome.


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Starkey, David (ed.) Rivals in Power: Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties. NY: Grove Weidenfeld, 1990. 292p.

Even at the highest levels of the royal court, Tudor government involved a great deal more than three kings and two (or three) queens. Interwoven with and surrounding the Tudors were eight other great families who supplied queen consorts, mistresses, courtiers, generals and admirals, high state officials, and ambassadors — the Brandons, Greys, Howards, Seymours, Dudleys, Cecils, Talbots, Sidneys, and Devereux — who were also complexly related among themselves. This era often seems more of a soap opera than any other period in the history of the English monarchy, filled as it was with wealth and poverty, ambition and failure, crownings and beheadings, high statesmanship and low cunning — and, everywhere, politics. On more than a few occasions, these families were willing to sacrifice their sons and daughters in their quest for power. And what makes this period accessible to modern readers was the development during the English Renaissance of letter-writing as we know it. Great quantities of 15th and 16th century correspondence have survived to detail every aspect of private and public business, personal opinions, pleas for mercy, and jockeying for power. The second major theme of this volume is the constant replenishing of the nobility by the gentry since, on average, noble families lasted only three generations. Hence, Charles Brandon, best buddy of Henry VIII, who went from gentleman to duke in five years, largely on the strength of his engaging personality. The Howards also went up, down, and up again in less than two generations and have retained the Earl Marshalís baton ever since. And, though he left no progeny, Thomas Wolsey typifies the self-made man: from humbly-born cleric to Bishop of Lincoln to Archbishop of York, Cardinal, and Chancellor of England. A beautifully illustrated and very readable book.


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Sykes, Christopher Simon. Black Sheep. NY: Viking, 1982. 285p.

Every well-placed family produces an occasional profligate, bounder, or cad. Well, so does every ordinary family, but "black sheep" with titles get more press. After investigating the effects of primogeniture on the younger sons of the English aristocracy — especially in a earlier era when lack of prospects could not be readily balanced by a talent for commerce or the arts — Sykes regales the reader with the lurid exploits of "mad drinkers" such as John Wilmot, earl of Rochester (known as "Rake Rochester") and champion spendthrifts such as the 5th Marquess of Anglesey, who died at the age of thirty having gone through more than £50 million. Then there was the infamous John Knatchbull, younger son of a baronet and brother of one of Robert Peelís ministers, who destroyed his promising naval career with gambling debts and later was transported to Australia for picking pockets. He was subsequently convicted of forgery and further exiled to tiny Norfolk Island; after serving that sentence he committed a brutal murder and was publicly hanged at Sydney in 1844. An altogether entertaining look at the side of the aristocracy Debrettís chooses to ignore.


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Tuck, Anthony. Richard II and the English Nobility. London: Edward Arnold, 1973. viii, 255p.

One of the most important problems facing English monarchs in the 14th century was relations with the nobility — at that time, a group of about twenty men of the rank of earl and above. In 1327, a party of nobles deposed and imprisoned Edward II; in 1399, another group deposed Richard II and the leader of the "revolutionary" party then put himself on the throne. These magnates, who were the largest landowners in England, the countryís leaders in time of war, and the focus of the ambitions of lesser titled men, expected the king to pay attention to their interests. At the same time, as the fount of honor, the king had power, too. In 1337, Edward III set out to deliberately enlarge to nobility by raising the four senior members of his household — whose support he could expect to retain — to the earldoms of Huntingdon, Northampton, Salisbury, and Suffolk. Tuck examines the role of the titled nobility in the kingís councils, the decline of aristocratic influence in the 1380s and the parallel development of hostility toward the king, and the eventual overthrow of Richardís "tyranny."


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Walker, Simon. The Lancastrian Affinity, 1361–1399. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990. xii, 350p.

"Bastard feudalism" is the name given to the late medieval system in which payment of money, via a contract for life (an indenture) by a retainer to a nobleman, was substituted for personal fealty. Nineteenth century historians considered it a debasement of "legitimate" feudalism and the cause of most of the problems of the 15th century: disorder among the aristocracy, abuse of subordinate authority, and concentration of too much power and wealth in the hands of a few subjects. Bastard feudalism led also to the rise of great "affinities," groups of household and estate officials gathered around aristocratic families, and the greatest of these probably was the enormous retinue of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. This is not the first study of late medieval affinities, nor is the first study of the dukeís wielding of influence through his indentured supporters and counselors, but it is the first time an attempt has been made to investigate the relationship from the inside: How did the retainer view the affinity he belonged to, what did he put into it and what did he get out of it? Walker builds carefully and gradually on the structure and composition of the Lancastrian organization, when and why it went to war, and the details of its dealings with and effect on the local society of Lancashire and neighboring counties. The picture that emerges is of a very talented and very busy executive and administrator, by far the greatest English lord of his day, who knew quite well what he wanted and was perfectly willing to pervert justice and bludgeon society in order to get it. The duke was likely the most hated magnate in England and his legacy was nearly a century of internecine warfare, which was ended by his great-great-grandson, Henry Tudor.


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Waller, Maureen. Ungrateful Daughters: the Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Fatherís Crown. NY: St. Martinís Press, 2003. xxiv, 454p.

The Stuarts were more than a series of Scots-English monarchs, they were a contentious family filled with ambitious, egotistical, often ignoble figures who were not above slipping the knife in to advance their own careers. The generational and religious tension chronicled in this well-written true-to-life soap opera began with James IIís move toward the Catholic Church, which alienated both his people and his two staunchly Protestant daughters, Mary and Anne, each of whom reigned after him. Whether Maryís husband, William of Orange, usurped the crown in the Glorious Revolution depends on your point of view, but Anne (who wasnít speaking to her older sister at the time of her early death) declared her half-brother, James ("The Old Pretender"), an outlaw — having previously claimed, in letters to Mary, that their hated stepmotherís pregnancy was a Catholic hoax and plot. Wallerís narrative is compelling and enjoyable as well as informative. You can almost see a screenplay waiting to be written. . . .


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Weir, Alison. Henry VIII: the King and His Court. NY: Ballantine Books, 2001. viii, 632p.

Weir is one of the better English popular historians working today, and certainly one of the most successful. While this social biography of Henry recycles much of the research from her earlier books, itís a very readable overview of the machinations of the king among the noble families who surrounded him, and of the jockeying of the Boleyns, Seymours, Courtenays, Parrs, Howards, Brandons, Douglases, Poles, and Cromwells among themselves. Oneís position — literally and physically — within the court indicated oneís importance and, as the author shows, Henry deftly orchestrated the relative ranks of his courtiers. Most of all, Weir details the organizational and bureaucratic context within which the king moved.


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Williams, Neville. All the Queenís Men; Elizabeth I and Her Courtiers. NY: Macmillan, 1972. 272p.

Elizabeth I was a master of applied psychology and manipulation of personalities, juggling with great success for many years the interests of the powerful men who surrounded her. She also had a happy knack for getting the most out of their talents to the benefit of the Crown and the country. Williams, Deputy Keeper of Public Records and a noted Tudor scholar, explores the ambitions, power-bids, marital politics, and "heroine worship" at Elizabethís court and tracks the rise and fall of the Howard, Dudley, and Devereux families in a smoothly flowing, heavily illustrated narrative.


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Williams, Neville. Henry VIII and His Court. NY: Macmillan, 1971. 271p.

The author preceded Elizabeth Hallam at the Public Record Office and was an authority on the Tudor period. Here, he examines the workings of the court under Henry VIII, the consummate Renaissance prince and master of kingship, absolute head not only of the secular nation but of the English church, as well — "a prince ruling in the image of God." Personal monarchy always implies a court and Henry surrounded himself with talented people, both in his household and in the machinery of government, so that a study of the former goes a long way to explaining the latter. Henry made the court dominant over the rest of the kingdom, and he himself thoroughly dominated the court, making it the center of English cultural as well as political life. Where earlier kings had to deal with the great landowners in their distant domains, Henry brought them to him, where they could plot and scheme and quarrel under his eye and have their energies directed to tasks of the kingís choosing. To be banished from court, denied access to the king, was the greatest blow a courtier could suffer, short of the Tower. Williams explores all these themes in depth, from Henryís use of musicians and the place of his queensí ladies in waiting to his control over his chief ministers and prelates of the church. And throughout the narrative are woven the lives of the Howards, Clintons, Greys, Courtenays, Cromwells, Poles, Percys, Seymours, Stanleys, Staffords, Veres, Russells, Nevilles, and other leading aristocratic families.


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Historical Studies: The Continent


Aronson, Theo. Defiant Dynasty; the Coburgs of Belgium. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1968. 323p.

The Belgian monarchy is the most recent in Europe, created only in 1831 to reign over a patched-together nation newly separated from the Netherlands. Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, uncle and principal advisor of the soon-to-be Queen Victoria, accepted the job from the Belgian National Congress after turning down a similar offer from the Greeks; he married (as his third wife) the daughter of Louis-Philippe of France. Their son, Leopold II, is remembered mostly for the colonial genocide carried out on his orders in the Congo, of which he was personally the sole owner, and for his reliance on a particularly brutal form of slavery. His nephew, who succeeded him as Albert I, led the army heroically (though futilely) in World War I, but when the countryís right wing encouraged him to rule by decree, he refused, preferring constitutionalism to autocracy. His son, Leopold III, surrendered much too quickly to the armies of the Reich in 1940, spent the war under house arrest, went into exile in 1946 while his loyalty was examined, and was forced to abdicate in 1951 in favor of his son, Baudoin, a hyper-religious man who proved a sometimes difficult sovereign. (And thatís as far as the book goes, though the childless Baudoin was followed in 1993 by his younger brother as Albert II.) The Coburg women also were an unlucky lot, producing Empress Carlotta of Mexico, who died in 1927 after a half-century of intermittent insanity, and Stephanie, the wife of Archduke Rudolf of Austria, who killed himself in a suicide pact with his mistress in 1889. (She also had to fight her own father, Leopold II, in court over her inheritance.) If this story is a dynastic soap opera, Aronson tells it urbanely and entertainingly, with due attention to both fact and gossip, and without pulling his punches.


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Barton, Simon. The Aristocracy in Twelfth-Century Leůn and Castile. NY: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xvi, 366p.

This weighty study examines the nature and process of aristocratic society and power in the northwestern Iberian peninsula during the high middle ages. Non-clerical magnates filled multiple roles, including family protector, landlord, judge, courtier, church patron, military commander, and diplomat, and the inheritance of these duties from one generation to the next led to a growing awareness of lineage. The lower half of the peninsula was still in Moslem hands, which had a lot to do with how the noble warrior class developed, because the concept of crusade led to influence far from home and the court. Many of Bartonís sources are not available in English and he includes several previously unpublished documents, as well as a very extensive bibliography, a biographical chapter on the counts of Leůn and Castile, and a set of relevant genealogical tables.


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Duckett, Eleanor Shipley. Carolingian Portraits: A Study in the Ninth Century. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1962. 311p.

On the Continent, the 9th century was a period of extended struggle among the children and grandchildren of Charles the Great, constant coastal raiding by northern pirates, and tedious quarrels among theologians. This now-classic collection of biographical essays chronicles the rise and decline of Charlesís empire through the careers of such men as Einhard of Seligenstadt. But our interest here is in the scholarly but very readable piece on Louis the Pious, the solitary and monastic son and successor of Charles, whose inability to cope with his legacy resulted in profound changes in political and religious relationships, especially between the king/emperor and the diverse military aristocracy.


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Jackman, Donald C. The Konradiner: A Study in Genealogical Methodology. Frankfurt-am-Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1990. xv, 315p.

If there were a graduate-level university course in the genealogy of the Continental nobility, this would be the textbook. Jackman began with the desire to understand the workings of medieval German government and found himself drawn into the eternal problems of medieval research: separating individuals of the same name, evaluating the reliability of sources whose authors themselves are only slightly known, and determining the intrinsic quality of data reported second- or third-hand. This extremely detailed test case begins with the progeny of Count Odo of Orlťans and Ingeltrud of Paris in the 9th century and continues through Otto of Hammerstein, the last true Konradiner in the Hessian homeland. Readers to whom this family means nothing will gain nevertheless by the authorís tightly argued and rigorously documented work because (for example) the concept of explicit, inferential, and incidental data is as useful in 19th century England as in medieval Germany. A book to be read carefully and digested slowly.


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Michael (Princess of Kent). Crowned in a Far Country: Portraits of Eight Royal Brides. NY: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1986. xi, 192p.

The first duty of a princess has always been to marry for the good of the dynasty and/or the country; thatís the role she was born to fill and most female royals accepted the marriages arranged for them with at least a sense of duty and sometimes with an eager eye to adventure. But some of these women were strong-willed and talented in their own right and came to exert considerable influence over their adopted nations. The author, an Austrian-Bohemian whose family lost everything in the two world wars, lived in Australia and Africa, studied art in Italy, and established her own design company in London. In 1978, she married Prince Michael of Kent, Queen Elizabethís first cousin, and set up housekeeping in Kensington Palace (and still ran her company). In this volume, she outlines the lives of eight women married off as political chess pieces, and especially their experiences in their new homelands. These include major figures like Marie Antoinette of Austria, who married Louis XVI of France and went to the guillotine, and Catherine of Anhalt, who became empress of Russia; lesser lights like Leopoldina of Austria, who became empress of Brazil, and Maria Carolina, also of Austria, who married the king of Naples; much-loved figureheads like the Danish princess who became Queen Alexandra of Great Britain; and the tragic figures of Empress Victoria of Prussia, daughter of Queen Victoria of Great Britain, whose husband, Frederick III, died only three months after acceding to the throne of Germany, and Empress Marie of Russia, who lived to see her son, Nicholas II, executed with his family. Because of her inside track with both Austrian and British titled families, the author generally does a good job of conveying the attitudes of her subjects. But because this is in no way a scholarly book, her many quotes lack citations and the short bibliography is heavy on popular works. Still, itís a good place to start.


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Miron, E. L. The Queens of Aragon: Their Lives and Times. London: S. Paul, 1913. 336p.

Because of very extensive intermarriages, this volume actually covers most of the Iberian peninsula, and includes lots of contextual and anecdotal material. For its age, it almost qualifies as "easy reading."


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Prescott, Orville. Princes of the Renaissance. NY: Random House, 1969. xiv, 397p.

Italy in the 15th century was a jumble of kingdoms, duchies, and republics — plus the temporal papacy — but the creative confusion of the Renaissance bred an extraordinary number of flamboyant, cultivated, ruthless, avaricious, artistic, and highly individualistic men to control them. The upstart Sforzi of Milan, the ancient Este family of Ferrara, the Montefeltri of Urbino, the Gonzagas of Mantua, and the Aragonese kings of Naples were matched by popes such as Sixtus IV, "who did much to lower the already low standards of the papacy," and his cousin, Julius II, patron of Michelangelo, who also delighted in making war. And there were the Borgias, who seemed to antagonize everyone on the peninsula. These were men (and some women) of their times, grim and gaudy, and few have been the subjects of individual biographies. Prescott obviously is fascinated by his subjects but he recognizes them for what they were; the result is a finely-drawn portrait gallery of the Italian generation who had so much to do with shaping our own world.


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Schieffelin, Elizabeth Wellborn. In Search of a Magna Carta Signer: A Tale of Adventure. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1990. viii, 102p.

The whole project began when the author, whose Wellborn family descends from the Dents of early colonial Maryland and the Fowkes of Gunston Hall in Virginia, decided to seek out a verified descent from one of the seventeen baronial signers of Magna Carta. (She eventually proved a connection to three of them.) In these hundred pages, she recounts the research she undertook in the United States and then the adventures encountered and results obtained on three visits to England. Although she seems to rely on such questionable sources as Burkeís Peerage, she also spent many hours at the Society of Genealogists library in London, searching through primary sources and old manuscript lineages. There were errors of interpretation (what looked like "Hadbury" on a chart turned out to be a poorly-written "Fladbury") and serendipitous discoveries while driving about in Warwickshire and Yorkshire and hunting up the person with the key to the local church. She studied the history of memorial brasses (having found 14th and 15th century brasses of eight of her own ancestors), made friends of cab drivers (who, years later, were still sending her clippings of interest from the local newspaper), and generally enjoyed the chase immensely. Undertaking such a project myself, I would have delved much more deeply into the available records on microfilm at my local FHC (and, these days, on Ancestry) and I would have consulted with other researchers and librarians — Schieffelin seems not to have heard of the Inter-Library Loan system — before flying off to Heathrow with a much more complete and precise itinerary. Also, as is the case with most self-published volumes of history and genealogy, this account of Mrs. Schieffelinís labors would have been improved by the attentions of a good editor. Nevertheless, while the style is a bit gushy and the technique sometimes naïve, itís a lot of fun to read.


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Volkoff, Vladimir. Vladimir, the Russian Viking. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1985. xxiv, 384p.

St. Vladimir, prince of Novgorod at the age of twelve and the great-grandson of Rurik, is one of the most influential and most mythologized figures in Russian history. Warlike and ambitious as well as shrewd and progressive, he spread his rule from the Baltic to the Black Sea and from the Dvina River to the Volga. The Orthodox Church regards him as "Equal to the Apostles" and the author, whose books have received a number of distinguished awards, obviously agrees with that judgment. Based on Russian, Greek, German, Icelandic, and Arabic sources, this first-ever complete biography reads quite well, if one works around the sometimes obtrusive religious message.


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Historical Studies — Byzantine & the Latin Kingdom


Buckler, Georgina. Anna Comnena. London: Oxford University Press, 1929. ix, 558p.

Gibbon had no use whatever for the Eastern Empire and his scorn set the standard for the subsequent ignorance in Britain and America of Byzantine history. But in studying the Crusades and the European noble houses who established the Latin kingdoms of Jerusalem and Constantinople, one must consider the Eastern Empire — and especially the Comnenus and Dukas families who supplied most of the Empireís rulers between 1040 and 1185. Anna was the daughter of one emperor and the sister of another (whom she hated bitterly) and her own history of her times was written from a very specific viewpoint near the top of the ladder. This book discusses Annaís character, attitudes, biases, theological opinions, and writing style (all of which are useful and interesting), but of more immediate interest to the genealogist is her chronicling of military affairs, foreign relations with the Crusaders (especially the "Franks"), and political marriages with Balkan rulers. Byzantine ladies of high station were far better educated than their European counterparts, but Anna was unusual even among her peers in Constantinople. An engrossing work that puts as few barriers as possible between the reader and the flavor of the original text.


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Tibble, Steven. Monarchy and Lordships in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099-1291. Oxford: Clarendon Press; NY: Oxford University Press, 1989. xvi, 203p.

The medieval European presence in Asia Minor as a result of the first couple of crusades meant the imposition of the feudal system on a culture that (generally) didnít even speak Indo-European languages. The consensus has been that this meant the Kingdom of Jerusalem and its various tenant counties by conquest experienced a "pure" feudalism, with an especially powerful nobility — but Tibble argues that this is not the case, that the balance of power was much more evenly divided between the monarchy and the aristocracy. In making his case, he examines in some detail the family connections and land holdings of the conquerors. Because of the authorís assumptions regarding his audience, a basic background knowledge of Outre-Mer is helpful.