The Empress of Art: Catherine the Great and the Transformation of Russia
Ruthless and passionate, Catherine the Great is singularly responsible for amassing one of the most awe-inspiring collections of art in the world and turning St. Petersburg in to a world wonder. The Empress of Art brings to life the creation of this captivating woman’s greatest legacy
An art-oriented biography of the mighty Catherine the Great, who rose from seemingly innocuous beginnings to become one of the most powerful people in the world. A German princess who married a decadent and lazy Russian prince, Catherine mobilized support amongst the Russian nobles, playing off of her husband’s increasing corruption and abuse of power. She then staged a coup that ended with him being strangled with his own scarf in the halls of the palace, and she being crowned the Empress of Russia.
Intelligent and determined, Catherine modeled herself off of her grandfather in-law, Peter the Great, and sought to further modernize and westernize Russia. She believed that the best way to do this was through a ravenous acquisition of art, which Catherine often used as a form of diplomacy with other powers throughout Europe. She was a self-proclaimed “glutton for art” and she would be responsible for the creation of the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world, second only to the Louvre. Catherine also spearheaded the further expansion of St. Petersburg, and the magnificent architectural wonder the city became is largely her doing. There are few women in history more fascinating than Catherine the great, and for the first time, Susan Jaques brings her to life through the prism of art.
Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen
Isabella of France (c. 1295-1358), who married Edward II in January 1308, is one of the most notorious women in English history. In 1325/26, sent to her homeland to negotiate a peace settlement between her husband and her brother Charles IV, Isabella refused to return to England. She began a relationship with her husband’s deadliest enemy, the English baron Roger Mortimer, and with her son, the king’s heir, under their control, the pair led an invasion of England which ultimately resulted in Edward II’s forced abdication in January 1327 in favour of his and Isabella’s son. Isabella and Mortimer ruled England during Edward III’s minority, until he overthrew them in October 1330. A rebel against her own husband and king, regent for her son, Isabella was a powerful, capable, intelligent woman who forced the first ever abdication of a king in England and changed the course of English history. The Rebel Queen examines Isabella’s life with particular focus on her revolutionary actions in the 1320s, corrects the many myths about her, and provides a vivid account of this most fascinating and influential of women.
Isabella de Valois was 3 years old when, on a hot August day in 1392, her father suddenly went mad. Less than four years later, she was married by proxy to the English King Richard II and arrived in England with a French retinue and her doll’s house. Richard’s humiliating deposition and brutal murder by his cousin, the future Henry IV, forced Isabella’s desperate return to France where she found her country fatally divided. Isabella’s sister, Catherine de Valois, became the beautiful young bride of Henry V and is unique in history for being the daughter of a king, the wife of a king, the mother of a king and the grandmother of a king. Like her sister, Catherine was viewed as a bargaining chip in times of political turmoil, yet her passionate love affair with the young Owain Tudor established the entire Tudor dynasty and set in motion one of the most fascinating periods of British history. The Sister Queens is a gripping tale of love, exile and conflict in a time when even royal women had to fight for survival.
This guidebook takes a fresh perspective on the tale of Henry VIII’s six wives, by taking you on a journey through a selection of manors, castles, and palaces that played host to Henry s unforgettable queens. Explore the Alhambra Palace in Spain, childhood home of Katherine of Aragon; stand in the very room at Acton Court, where Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII publicly dined; walk the cobbled grounds of Hampton Court Palace, which bore witness to both triumph and tragedy for Jane Seymour; visit Dusseldorf in Germany, birthplace of Anne of Cleves; travel to Gainsborough Old Hall in Lincolnshire, where Henry VIII and Catherine Howard rested on their way to York in 1541 and wander the picturesque gardens and panelled rooms of Sizergh Castle in Cumbria, where Katherine Parr spent time in mourning, after the death of her first husband. Each location is covered by an accessible and informative narrative, which unearths the untold tales and documents the artifacts, as well as providing practical visitor information based on our first-hand experiences of visiting each site. Accompanied by an extensive range of images, including family trees, maps, photographs and sketches, this book brings you closer than ever before to the women behind the legends, as it takes you on your own personal and illuminating journey in the footsteps of the six wives of Henry VIII.”
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
Elizabeth was crowned at twenty-five after a tempestuous childhood as a bastard and an outcast, but it was only when she reached fifty and all hopes of a royal marriage were dashed that she began to wield real power in her own right. For twenty-five years she had struggled to assert her authority over advisers who pressed her to marry and settle the succession; now, she was determined not only to reign but also to rule. In this magisterial biography of England’s most ambitious Tudor queen, John Guy introduces us to a woman who is refreshingly unfamiliar: at once powerful and vulnerable, willful and afraid. In these essential and misunderstood forgotten years, Elizabeth confronts challenges at home and abroad: war against the Catholic powers of France and Spain, revolt in Ireland, an economic crisis that triggered riots in the streets of London, and a conspiracy to place her cousin Mary Queen of Scots on her throne. For a while she was smitten by a much younger man, but could she allow herself to act on that passion and still keep her throne?
For the better part of a decade John Guy mined long-overlooked archives, scouring court documents and handwritten letters to sweep away myths and rumors. This prodigious historical detective work has made it possible to reveal for the first time the woman behind the polished veneer: wracked by insecurity, often too anxious to sleep alone, voicing her own distinctive and surprisingly resonant concerns. Guy writes like a dream, and this combination of groundbreaking research and propulsive narrative puts him in a class of his own.
The Romanovs: 1613-1918
The Romanovs were the most successful dynasty of modern times, ruling a sixth of the world’s surface. How did one family turn a war-ruined principality into the world’s greatest empire? And how did they lose it all?
This is the intimate story of twenty tsars and tsarinas, some touched by genius, some by madness, but all inspired by holy autocracy and imperial ambition. Montefiore’s gripping chronicle reveals their secret world of unlimited power and ruthless empire-building, overshadowed by palace conspiracy, family rivalries, sexual decadence and wild extravagance, and peopled by a cast of adventurers, courtesans, revolutionaries and poets, from Ivan the Terrible to Tolstoy, from Queen Victoria to Lenin.
To rule Russia was both imperial-sacred mission and poisoned chalice: six tsars were murdered and all the Romanovs lived under constant threat to their lives. Peter the Great tortured his own son to death while making Russia an empire, and dominated his court with a dining club notable for compulsory drunkenness, naked dwarfs and fancy dress. Catherine the Great overthrew her own husband – who was murdered soon afterwards – loved her young male favourites, conquered Ukraine and fascinated Europe. Paul was strangled by courtiers backed by his own son, Alexander I, who faced Napoleon’s invasion and the burning of Moscow, then went on to take Paris. Alexander II liberated the serfs, survived five assassination attempts, and wrote perhaps the most explicit love letters ever written by a ruler. THE ROMANOVS climaxes with a fresh, unforgettable portrayal of Nicholas and Alexandra, the rise and murder of Rasputin, war and revolution – and the harrowing massacre of the entire family.
Written with dazzling literary flair, drawing on new archival research, THE ROMANOVS is at once an enthralling story of triumph and tragedy, love and death, a universal study of power, and an essential portrait of the empire that still defines Russia today.
The Private Lives of the Tudors
‘I do not live in a corner. A thousand eyes see all I do.’ – Elizabeth I
The Tudor monarchs were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers and ministers. Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task. A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth I retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed.
These attendants knew the truth behind the glamorous exterior. They saw the tears shed by Henry VII upon the death of his son Arthur. They knew the tragic secret behind ‘Bloody’ Mary’s phantom pregnancies. And they saw the ‘crooked carcass’ beneath Elizabeth I’s carefully applied makeup, gowns and accessories.
It is the accounts of these eyewitnesses, as well as a rich array of other contemporary sources that historian Tracy Borman has examined more closely than ever before. With new insights and discoveries, and in the same way that she brilliantly illuminated the real Thomas Cromwell – The Private Life of the Tudors will reveal previously unexamined details about the characters we think we know so well.