The Scrumptious Stuart Queens: Queen Anne



(This post originally appeared at The Freelance History Writer, written by me. With her permission, I am reposting here. Original post is here:  )

Born in 1665, Anne did not look the part of the usual Stuarts. She would grow up to be short and stout, unlike her tall and beautiful relatives. However, she would make just as much of an impact on history as the lot of them.

Anne was the younger daughter of James Stuart, Duke of York, and his first wife, Anne Hyde. She would grow up with an elder sister Mary, with whom she shared a household. The sisters would be educated by private tutors, with heavy instruction in the tenets of the Anglican faith. Anne’s piety would stick with her until the day she died. In 1670, when Anne was just a small child, her mother died. Three years later, the Duke of York married the Catholic Princess Mary of Modena, who was just six years older than Anne.

The education of the young Lady Anne consisted of mostly religious doctrine. Per her Uncle King Charles II’s decree, both Anne and her sister Mary were to be educated and raised in the Anglican faith. Anne lived her entire life distrustful of Catholics and “popery”, which would further complicate the family situation, when before his remarriage, the Duke of York converted to Catholicism.

Even though they were still young, the marriages of the Stuart girls started to be debated. In 1677, Anne was ill with smallpox and unable to attend the wedding of her sister to Prince William of Orange. Anne’s own marriage came into question soon after, and a suitable Protestant husband was found in Prince George of Denmark, brother to King Christian V of Denmark, whom she wed in 1683. Despite the political nature of their marriage, Anne and George loved each other dearly, and would be devoted to one another. The only “unsuccessful” part of their marriage would be their continued childlessness. Over the many years of their marriage, Anne would be pregnant an estimated 17 times, with none surviving past childhood.

In 1685, Anne’s father, James, became King of England and Scotland after the death of Charles II. As his daughters were still his heirs, people were accepting of him, because his Catholicism was seen as a temporary abhorrence. This would all change in 1688, when Anne’s half-brother James was born to Mary of Modena. He would, of course be raised as a Catholic, the religion of his parents. This was unacceptable to a Protestant clergy and nobility. Rumors began to fly immediately that the child was not a Prince, King James’ son had died, and the baby of a peasant brought in to take his place. Although there were many witnesses, Anne was not among them, and she wrote to her sister Mary saying she would never be satisfied the child was really her brother.

Family tensions finally came to the breaking point in 1688 when Anne’s brother in law, William, Prince of Orange landed in England at the head of army, sparking what we call the “Glorious Revolution”. Anne immediately sided with William, and soon after, James fled for France where his wife and young child were already waiting. The Revolution was largely bloodless, and Anne fully supported her brother in law. Her father lamented in the loss of his daughters, writing that his children had forsaken him. In early 1689, Parliament declared that James had abandoned the throne, and named William and Mary joint rulers of the nation with Anne as their heir.

Sadly all would not be well between the sisters. Almost immediately they began to clash over Anne’s relationship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Anne’s refusal to remove Sarah from her household was a further rift between the sisters, and in 1692, Mary visited Anne for the last time after Anne gave birth to a stillborn baby. Mary died in 1694, and William reconciled with Anne, now the heir presumptive to the crown.

In 1702, William died and Anne became Queen in her own right. She would give her husband and the Marlboroughs various offices in the military and court. Her reign would last twelve eventful years, in which we would see the Acts of Union between Scotland and England, the War of Spanish Succession, and an attempted invasion by her half-brother, the Catholic James Stuart. Anne is also the last British monarch to deny Royal Assent to a Parliamentary bill. Her health declined further through the years, especially after the death of her husband in 1708. Already seriously afflicted with gout at her accession and unable to walk, by 1713, the concerns for her health were very serious. She was ill several times throughout the year, eventually recovering until she had a stroke on July 30th, 1714. Anne died the next day, aged forty-nine. With the death of the childless Anne, the succession of the British crown fell to the Protestant cousins from the House of Hanover, according to the terms of Act of Settlement from 1701.

Both of the Stuart sisters are brushed over by history for various reasons. But both were fascinating, intelligent women, who deserve History’s attention and the same adoration some other Queens receive.

Further reading: “Queen Anne” by David Green, “Sovereign Ladies” by Maureen Waller, “Royal Panoply” by Carolly Erickson, The Seventeenth Century Lady website

*Pictured below: Anne, circa 1702 – portrait by John Closterman*


Book Review: Elizabeth -The Virgin Queen And The Men Who Loved Her


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Elizabeth I of England is an icon among icons. Her public image of “Good Queen Bess” has long since survived her, elevating her to almost immortal status. Numerous books are sold about her, her legend, and her life. We know the English court was her universe, and “Gloriana” was its Sun.
But what of the planets of the court? The men who served as her ministers, advisers, and friends? They orbited around her, hoping for as much time in her rays as possible. Those men are the focus of the book, “Elizabeth – The Virgin Queen And The Men Who Loved Her” by author Robert Stephen Parry. Mr. Parry is the writer of other historical novels, such as, “The Arrow Chest” and “Wildish”. I read “The Arrow Chest” a couple years ago, so I jumped at the chance to read his takes on Elizabeth I, one of my all-time favorite historical figures.
The book has an interesting structure. It’s set up as a series of short lectures on the various personalities the dominated the Elizabethan court. Each section starts with a short bio on the men being presented, who include, Henry VIII, Thomas Seymour, Robert Dudley, John Dee, the Duke of Alencon, William Cecil, Walter Raleigh, Christopher Hatton, and Robert Devereux. As I stated, each section starts with a short biography of the figure, with the basics of who they were, and how they were an integral part of the solar system of Her Majesty’s universe. The non-fiction section is then followed by a short fictional story, relating to the man being profiled. The stories vary between private, emotional moments with a young Elizabeth, to facing the full rage of the Tudor temper, and how that might have played out.
I don’t read much fiction these days, but I couldn’t be happier that I read this book. I have read considerable amounts on Elizabeth, so the majority of the information was not new to me, as it won’t be for many people interested in this period. But the fictional short stories were a great addition, and Mr. Parry has the ability to describe the events in such a way, that you’re immediately engrossed and emotionally invested in the story. If you’re new to the Elizabethan period, this book can be a great starting point, for learning more about court life, and the central courtiers who surrounded the legendary Queen. I think that if you’re a seasoned Tudor fanatic, you’ll still enjoy the easiness with which the book flows, and the different perspectives that the author brings to life. I’m currently just starting another book of Mr. Parry’s on Elizabethan life, and I’m bursting with excitement!
You can read more about the author and his work at
All his books are for sale in Kindle and paperback on both Amazon US and UK.


The Scrumptious Stuart Queens: Mary II



(This post originally appeared at The Freelance History Writer, but is written by yours truly!
On April 30th, 1662, a girl is born to James, Duke of York and his wife, Anne Hyde. She would be christened Mary, and would resemble her Stuart relatives. She grew tall, with dark curly hair, and was intelligent and kind. At age three, she was joined by a sister, Anne, and the sisters would make history.
While Mary was still quite young, her parents converted to Roman Catholicism, but Mary and Anne were to be raised in the Anglican faith, per their uncle King Charles II’s command. Tragedy struck in 1671, when Mary’s mother, Anne, died at age 34, probably from cancer. Two years later, she would have a stepmother in the Catholic Italian princess Mary of Modena, who was only four years Mary’s senior.
Mary’s own marriage came into play in 1677, when at age 15, she was betrothed and wed to her first cousin, William, Prince of Orange and Stadtholder of the Netherlands. She cried when she was told, and cried during the wedding. However, she resigned herself to her situation and became devoted to William, and was popular with the Dutch people.
Things began to change, though, when in 1685, Charles II died, and her father became King James VII and II. Unless her father had a son with his young wife, Mary was to be Queen after his death. James’ unpopularity grew, due to his perceived Pro-catholic policies and in 1688, a boy was born in England to the King and Queen. The rumors flew that it was not the child of the King and the nobles were aghast with the thought of another Catholic monarch. A group of nobles convened to secretly invite William to invade on behalf of the Protestant cause, as William had a claim to the throne, behind Mary and Anne, as their cousin. Mary stayed behind while her husband landed in her homeland, and her father fled for France. Parliament declared that James had abandoned the throne, and it was offered to William and Mary together.
Under the joint rule of the couple, Parliament enacted a Bill of Rights, which outlined some clear boundaries of royal power and the rights of the people, in late 1689. Mary usually deferred to William in matters of state, since she saw him as the ruler. But while William was gone on military campaigns, Mary stepped up to the plate, and proved herself as an effective ruler, and was immensely popular with most people.
In the meantime, though, her relationship with her sister, Anne, had soured. The sisters would never speak again after April 1692, when Mary visited Anne after a difficult labor and the death of her child. They clashed over Anne’s friendship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. Churchill’s husband was suspected of conspiring with the Jacobites, to restore Mary and Anne’s father to the crown. Mary had suffered two miscarriages throughout her marriage, and her continued childlessness was an source of deep sadness for her.
Sadly in 1694, tragedy struck, when Mary contracted smallpox. She sent away any attendants of hers who had never previously had the disease, but her sister, offered to attend her, in an attempt to repair the rift between them. Anne’s offer was refused, and on December 28th, Mary died, at age 32. William was crushed and she was profoundly mourned in London. The Jacobites saw her death as retribution for the overthrow of her father.
Regardless if you sympathize with Mary, or side with her father, it’s hard to deny Mary’s charm and fascinating life. She was a remarkable woman, from a unique family, who had a front row seat throughout unprecedented change in European politics. I encourage you to read up on Mary, and I’ll be back soon with the story of her equally exceptional sister, Anne.

Katherine Howard: A New History



I always get slightly excited when I see that I have email, so you can imagine how much more excited I was when I was asked to review this book. “Katherine Howard: A New History” is the first book by young Tudor Historian Conor Byrne. Katherine is often portrayed as the vapid teenaged fifth wife of the indomitable Henry VIII of England. Her time as Queen was cut short, and her life ended with the stroke of the axe, after her alleged infidelity. Modern day TV and movies show her as just a girl who wanted nothing more than to “party” and have fun, unconcerned for anything but herself, to the point of having an affair with one of Henry’s most trusted courtiers. Like many people misaligned from this time period, I can’t help but wonder… How much of that is true, and how much is made up?

While we will never be able to answer many of the questions we have about Katherine, Mr. Byrne has gone to great lengths to make us rethink our positions. By referencing a wide variety of sources, the writer seeks to repaint the image of Katherine from that of the silly girl who was in over her head and just looking for a good time, to that of a young woman, abused throughout her early life, and used as a pawn by her status-seeking family. Mr. Byrne sets the stage for Katherine’s rise to fame by starting with the politics of the Henrician court, and how after the tumultuous reign of her cousin, Anne Boleyn, the Howard family looked for a way to once again emerge as the top dogs in the palace.

The author starts before Katherine’s birth, describing the world she was born into. He tells us of the proud Howard family, humbled by the scandal of Anne Boleyn’s execution, because of her Howard lineage. The noble family sought to gain the King’s ear and trust again, and thrust Katherine forward as a means to do just that. Mr. Byrne believes that Katherine was the true victim of her story, as a young woman who was used by ne’er do well men for her entire life. Her life was one of continued sexual abuse by the likes Henry Manox, Francis Dereham, and Thomas Culpeper. His further analysis even looks into portraits of Katherine and their identifications, and re-examines her reign, pointing to evidence that shows she was not a frivolous party girl, but took her duties as Queen seriously.

If you are a tried and true Tudor-holic, I highly recommend this book. It’s chock-full of details, and Mr. Byrne does his absolute best to rehabilitate the reputation of the ill-fated consort. I always enjoy new perspectives of historical figures, so for me, this was a pleasure to read, and it definitely turned what I thought I knew of Katherine on its side.

“Katherine Howard: A New History” by Conor Byrne is available on Amazon US and UK in both Kindle and Paperback formats. You can follow the authors blog here.

George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat



George Boleyn is quite the enigmatic character. Often misaligned with his sister, Anne Boleyn, as they suffered the same fate in 1536 when they were executed on trumped up charges, stemming from Henry VIII’s wish to have a son- which seemingly he could not with Anne. But were the siblings guilty of incest? Was the lesser known brother homosexual or a womanizer? Who was George Boleyn?!
Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway sought to try and answer these questions as best they could with the information available. There are no known portraits of George, but they’ve been able to compile an outline of his life, based on letters, diplomatic cables and state papers.The writers really strive to separate fact from fiction. As with many historical figures from that time, there are gaps in George’s life and details that we will never know, but with this resourc, we can begin to truly paint a picture of who George Boleyn was- and who he most certainly was not.
I found that the book gave me some real insights into court life under Henry VIII. “Bluff King Hal” was definitely a pleasure-seeking man, but he relegated state business to the men he trusted most. George was among the men he trusted deeply, as shown by the offices and duties assigned to the young Boleyn. George acted on behalf of Henry many times, negotiating with the King of France. From the numerous missions, assignments and offices George was given, it’s obvious to see that he was not just the partying playboy that some modern fiction plays him to be.
This book is a must have for anyone who is interested in learning about the inner workings of the court during Tudor rule. If your focus is mainly on the wives of Henry VIII, this probably isn’t the reading material for you. Of course, there are mentions of Anne, Jane Seymour and Catherine of Aragon, but they are not the focus of the book. You will learn more about the proud man who also bore the now infamous name and how he contributed to the court before the rise of his sister. Claire and Clare also spend a whole chapter addressing the relationship of George with his wife, Jane, Lady Rochford, who later shared her husband’s fate. They lay out the evidence we have to dispel the popular myths of Jane’s complicity in the investigation against her husband and sister-in-law. Also, there are some great resources towards the end of the book, with timelines, poetry and writings about George.
“George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier, and Diplomat” is available for purchase through Amazon US and UK, and I encourage anyone wanting to know more about the real Tudors to visit Claire Ridgway’s site The Anne Boleyn Files for true and factual information.

The Stuart Vampire

I’ve had the immense pleasure of interacting with Andrea Zuvich, author of The Stuart Vampire through social media. I read her other book, His Last Mistress, last year, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So when offered the chance to read and review The Stuart Vampire, I jumped at it. So I am pleased to offer a short review of it!
The story starts in a tavern, with an odd couple telling their unbelievable story to a reporter. The man claims to be the long dead Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, and his wife. However, Henry died in 1660 of smallpox and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Or did he?
Henry states that the night he died, he was visited by a Vampiress, Griselda, who turned the Duke from a life of splendor at the court of his brother, King Charles II, to being a servant of darkness. Griselda is happy to be a concubine of the devil, but is looking for a companion to live out the ages with. Henry is reluctant to accept and tries to fight back against his new dark life. From there, he wrestles with the demon within him as Griselda is summoned to a council of Vampire elders to answer for her actions. Henry is then left to grow accustomed to his new body, while he discovers the sad lives of a forgotten village.
The author runs a successful blog and Facebook page, The Seventeenth Century Lady , and specializes in the Stuart family. Her knowledge of the period and the family really shines through. Andrea has a deep passion for this area of history, and it shows in the details. She is able to reference both the places and historical figures that the characters would have interacted with, including cameos by children of Charles II and England’s own Witchfinder General.
I’m not big on historical fiction these days, as I usually find the real stories to be much more engaging. That being said, I enjoyed the book. It was a short read, as I finished it in just a couple days. A tad of a guilty pleasure for me, as I’m mostly into NF these days (except for A Song of Ice and Fire series, sue me). If you’re interested, you should know that it is a vampire story, so there is blood and death; however I found none of it to be gratuitous. There is a little bit of romance, too, for those of us who are hopeless lovers.
In short, I would recommend this book for those of you who enjoy a good story with a scary element; or a good read on the Stuart family.
“The Stuart Vampire” by Andrea Zuvich is available for Kindle through Amazon US and UK. You can also check her site,, for more on the fascinating 17th century!

September 1st


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1532 – Henry VIII creates Anne Boleyn Marquess of Pembroke, in her own right, in anticipation of their marriage, which happened the following year.


1651 – Natalya Naryshkina is born into a minor noble family. However, in early 1671, she was catapulted to the front of Russian politics when she wed Tsar Alexis I. She would bear him three children, including the future Emperor Peter the Great. The Tsarina remained active in politics until 1676, when she was widowed. She lived at the court of her stepson, Feodor III, until his death 1682, and her son, Peter, was put forth as the ten-year-old Tsar. Natalya was put forth as regent, but was replaced by her stepdaughter, Sofia Alekseyevna, and sent away from court, while her son was named co-Tsar with his brother Ivan. When Peter assumed control of his government 1689, she returned to his court until her death in 1694.

1711 – William IV, Prince of Orange, and first hereditary stadtholder of the Netherlands. His father died just 6 six weeks before he was born, so he ruled under a regency until 1731. William married Princess Anne, the daughter of King George II of Britain. Popular with the people, he ended the indirect taxation, which made a small amount of people very rich. Dying early, at age 40, he was succeeded by his son, William V.

1878 – Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is born in Germany, as the daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and his wife, Russian Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. She was a grandchild of both Queen Victoria of Great Britain, and Alexander II of Russia. “Sandra” spent her childhood in Britain and Malta, where her father was stationed, but moved to Germany permanently when her father succeeded to the Ducal throne of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1896, she was married to Prince Ernst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, and they would later have five children. After her father’s death in 1900, she served as regent briefly for her cousin, Charles Edward, the underage Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Prior to World War II, she was a supporter of the Nazi party, but she died at age 63 in 1942, without seeing the end of the war.

1715 – The indomitable “Sun King” of France, Louis XIV died at age 76. Born in 1638, he was the son of Louis XIII, whom he succeeded in 1643. His reign of 72 years is the longest in French history. Louis oversaw the building of the Palace at Versailles, and turned it into the center of his court and government. He firmly believed in the Divine Right of Kings, and ruled as an absolute ruler, after consolidating power when reaching majority. France was also a leading military power in Europe during his reign. He had 6 children by his first wife, Maria Theresa of Spain, and may have married again after Maria’s death, to Francoise d’Aubigne, although the marriage was never announced or made public. His son and grandson, both named Louis, had predeceased the King, leaving as heir the five-year-old Louis XV as king.

Have an awesome day!

August 31st


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1314 – King Haakon V Magnusson of Norway moves the capitol of the country from Bergen to Oslo, where the capitol remains today.

1880 – The future Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands is born at The Hague. She was the only child of King William III and Queen Emma, and became Queen in her own right in 1890, with her mother as regent. She came to majority in 1898, and married Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1901. She would give birth to one surviving daughter, Juliana, but suffer several miscarriages. In 1948, she abdicated in favor of her daughter, Juliana, after a reign of 58 years, making Wilhelmina the longest serving Dutch monarch.

1158 – Sancho III of Castile died after just one year of rule. He was the eldest surviving son of King Alfonso VII of Leon and Castile and Berengaria of Barcelona. His death was sudden, while he was in his early 20’s but left a young son as his successor, Alfonso VIII of Castile.

1422 – King Henry V of England died suddenly of possibly dysentery. He was only 35 years old, and was on military campaigns in France. He is known for his military battles during the Hundred Years War, namely the Battle of Agincourt. Henry had been king since the death of his father, Henry IV, in 1413. The heir to the throne was Henry’s only child with Catherine of Valois, a nine-month-old baby boy, now Henry VI of England.

1997 – Tragedy struck in Paris, when Diana, Princess of Wales, was involved in a car crash while traveling with her companion, Dodi Fayed. Diana, Dodi, and the driver were all killed. She was 36 years old, and the former wife of Charles, Prince of Wales, whom she divorced the previous year. She was survived by two sons, Princes William and Harry. After her divorce, she had continued her charity work, and was widely mourned by the people.

August 30th


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No major events.

1334 – Peter I of Castile is born to Alfonso XI of Castile and Maria of Portugal. He would be king twice, first from 1350 until 1366, then again from 1367 until 1369. His reign was interrupted by his half-brother, Henry of Trastamara, the future Henry II. Because of the civil wars, Peter is remembered as both the Cruel, and the Just, by the opposing sides of the war.

1808 – Princess Ludovika of Bavaria is born in Munich. She was the daughter of Maximilian I Joseph, King of Bavaria, and Karoline of Baden. Ludovika married the Duke in Bavaria, her cousin, Maximilian Joseph. They had ten children, and Ludovika lived out her days in Munich, dying in 1892.

1813 – Princess Mathilde Caroline of Bavaria is born as a daughter of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. She married a Hessian Grand Duke, also named Ludwig, in 1833. They would have no children, and Mathilde died in 1862.

1842 – Alexandra Alexandrovna is born in St. Petersburg Russia to Tsar Alexander II and Tsarina Maria Alexandrovna. She was the couple’s first child, and was doted on by her parents. Sadly at age 6, she caught infant meningitis, and died suddenly. Her mother would cry at the mention of her name for years to come.

1870 – Princess Alexandra of Greece is born as a daughter of King George I of Greece and Queen Olga. She was a sister of King Constantine I, and is thus an aunt of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth II. She married at age 19, to Russian Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich, son of Tsar Alexander II. It was a happy marriage and they would have two children. But during her second pregnancy, she fell, and went into a coma after delivering the child, and died a few days later. She was 21 years old.

1917 – Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia is born in Finland. He was a descendant of Alexander II of Russia, and his family has escaped the Russian Revolution. After the executions of the Romanov family, he was a claimant of the Imperial titles of the Tsars until his death in 1992.

1946 – The future Queen Anne-Marie of Greece is born in Copenhagen. She is the daughter of King Frederick IX of Denmark and Queen Ingrid, and her elder sister is the current Danish Queen, Margarethe II. In 1964, she married Constantine II of Greece, and they ruled until Greece was declared a Republic in 1973. She currently resides in the UK.

1483 – Louis XI of France died at age 60. He had been King since 1461, after the death of his father, Charles VII. As king he fought with the Burgundians but also technically ended the Hundred Years War, with the Treaty of Picquigny. After crushing rebellions, he was able to strengthen royal power and the French Economy.

August 29th


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1756 – Frederick the Great of Prussia attacks Saxony, starting what’s called the Seven Years War, over territorial disputes with the neighboring German nations and Austria.

1825 – The Kingdom of Portugal officially recognizes the independence of Brazil. In 1822, Brazil would declare itself its own empire.

1968 – Crown Prince Harald of Norway married Sonja Haraldsen, after dating in secret for nine years. She was not of royal status, so there was concern of a scandal. The couple rule today as King Harald V and Queen Sonja.

1729 – Maria Anna Sophia of Saxony is born to King Augustus III of Poland and Maria Josepha of Austria. She was one of 15 children, and the sister of Frederick Christian, Elector of Saxony, Queen Maria Amalia of Spain, and French Dauphine Maria Josepha. This makes Maria Anna the aunt of French Kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X. In 1747, she married the Elector of Bavaria, Maximilian III Joseph. The marriage was childless, and Maximilian died in 1777, but Maria would outlive him by 20 years, remaining in her adopted homeland.

1526 – King Louis II of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia died while fighting the Ottomans during the Battle of Mohacs. He had been king for ten years, after the death of his father, Vladislaus II. Louis was only twenty at the time of his death, and was childless, in his marriage.

Enjoy your day!