The Grand Ducal House of Hesse is perhaps best known for its tragedies in the 20th century – such as the horrific aeroplane crash and the murders of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna and her sister Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna, both born Hessian princesses.
The Grand Ducal House of Hesse by Arturo E. Beéche & Ilana D. Miller starts in 1567 when Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, died and divided his vast lands among his four sons. It is a great hardcover book with plenty of images, and you can tell it’s been very well-researched. I enjoyed the early history of the Hessians, though it was (understandably) quite focussed on the men of the family. However, I was delighted to find a chapter giving particular focus on some of the women of the family.
The mentioning of the links to the British Royal Family also seemed unavoidable. It was the morganatic marriage of Prince Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine to Countess Julia Hauke that founded the Battenberg/Mountbatten family to which Prince Philip belonged.
Although this could have been a great book, I was pretty put off by the spacing issues around the photos, which sometimes seemed to throw off the entire page. The images really are the highlight of this book, so it was quite a shame to see this. There were also a few errors in the text – such as calling the wife of King William II of the Netherlands by the wrong name. However, overall the book is quite enjoyable and interesting.