Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sundays Art: The Amy Robsart Case

Michelle Moran posting an interesting link in the news a new incident report was found and holy smokes it is a big one. All of you know I can not pass up anything that has to do with Robert Dudley.

~Did Elizabeth I's 'lover' have wife killed so he could wed the Virgin Queen?~

"It has been the subject of fierce debate for more than 400 years.

Now new evidence has emerged that supports the theory that Amy, the wife of Elizabeth I's close friend and suspected lover Robert Dudley, was murdered so her husband could marry the Queen.
Amy died aged 28 in 1560 after breaking her neck while falling down the stairs at Cumnor Place in Berkshire."

William Frederick Yeames (1835 – 1918) Amy Robsart, 1884 Oil on Board, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

"Amy Robsart was the first wife of Lord Robert Dudley, the 1st Earl of Leicester and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. Legend has it that Robert arranged to have Amy murdered, so he would be free to marry Elizabeth. An official inquest cleared him of wrongdoing, but the story persisted and the scandal is thought to have played some part to discourage the Queen from marrying Dudley. Robsart's story became very popular in the 19th century thanks to Sir Walter Scott, who made her the tragic heroine of his novel Kenilworth; I think it likely that the popularity of that work inspired both this painting and another by the same artist."
I would love to hear what others think about this because for the longest time I just have always had this feeling. Either way poor Robert did not get Elizabeth and he lost Amy too, maybe some things are better off just being left alone?
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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review: THE SECRET OF THE GLASS by Donna Russo Morin

Sophia Fiolaro was the eldest child of a well-known family of glassmakers on the island of Murano. Her father came from along line of glassmakers by trade. The interesting point of being a glassmaker in the early sixteenth century is that they were isolated on the small island of Murano, which was located with in a cluster of islands in what seemed like a hop and a skip from the main land of Italy.

All of the glass makers were there but thy really seemed like content people as a whole. They had their factories and family owned shops. The people also lived prosperous lives. The government kept them isolated on the small island to prevent the secret of the glass being leaked out into the world. The motivation was mainly for financial reasons. By producing a limited amount of product it gave the gave the glassmakers wares an exclusivity air which in turn put the glass in high demand.

Since Sophia was the eldest with no brothers she was by her fathers side during his days in the factory. She was not the silly girl type; she was very quick and seemed to be able to read people pretty well. The most important things in her life were her family and glass making. It was not shocking to me that she could understand the secret of the glass. She did have at times a timid personality that she used as a defense maneuver in times of need. I believe she was just a more of a private type of person that kept things to herself. Her father and later best friend were the only people who knew of her skills. Her father Zeno put up a front like he did not know but in reality he knew. Her blissful domestic life came to a halt when a poor noble family wanted Sophia to marry their son because of the money from her father’s glass factory. Another marriage labeled as a means to an end.

After the first visit to her soon to be betroths home, Sophia knew he had no love for her in his heart. Pasquale was an older angry man that gave into no false pretenses. Uproariously it figures that he was a politician of the city of Venice in his day job and an avid Galileo follower by night. Ironically it would be Galileo who inquired into the skills of the Fiolaro family factory. He wanted a "curved piece" of glass made to his specifications. Zeno by this time began showing early stages of dementia. Sophia had to cover him during Galileo's visit. So close was the bond between father and daughter that when she saw the look in his eyes change she knew he was gone. Sophia eagerly accepted Galileo's request and since Zeno had been bed ridden since Galileo's visit Sophia had to make the pieces herself. She threw herself into the project head long to serve as a distraction from the upcoming betrothal and wedding.

After her marriage papers had been sent making her officially betrothed to Pasquale she began attending higher social functions. At a court filled with luxury and vibrancy's she found the men to be of a handsome nature. One in particular had caught her eye Teodoro Gradenigo. Tall dark and handsome it was if a force of nature that pulled her to him. They made a chance solitary first meeting when Pasquale dismissed her for his friends. Teo and Sophia stuck an instant friendship between them or was it more than that?

Sophia wanted love in her life she wanted to feel it, touch it, and live every aspect of it. How could she bring herself to marry a man who treated her like a lap dog? She knew there had to be more in her life. She yearned to turn her back on Pasquale and never look back but her fathers rapidly progressing deterioration kept her firmly planted where she stood. Sophia had a few skeletons in her closet and if anyone were to discover them her life could become forfeit. In a turn of events Sophia had no control over she felt like she was slowly losing the control she had over her life. If the opportunity became apparent where she could turn the tables on Pasquale would she be able to take control of her destiny and push head long into the unknown?

4/5 Highly recommended, a very unique read in choice of location and characters. From glassmakers, Venice politics, and Galileo unveiling his brilliant creation I found myself fully immersed into Sophia's world. I found that it did have a bit of a slow start but it was worth it. I flew through the second half because Morin took the time to really build her characters. It was a very pleasant read and it was right up alley. A strong heroine who loves her family but possessing a unique talent for creation. I really enjoyed the details of Sophia's work with the glass making. The details even down to what dress she wore it when she worked with the glass. This would be a most pleasurable read for any historical fiction lover.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review: THE STOLEN CROWN by Susan Higginbotham

Available in bookstores everywhere March 1st 2010
Richard to the Duke of Buckingham: “Well, Let me tell you what our cloth merchants have begged Parliament to enact. No one below the estate of lord is to wear any gown or cloak unless it covers his genitals and buttocks while he is standing upright. A beneficial piece of legislation, no doubt, but who wants to be the fellow who has to check?”
Harry Duke of Buckingham in my previous reads has almost always been portrayed as a villain. That man who more than likely murdered the Princes in the tower. In reality I had no idea how closely related to the young princes he actually was. Being that “Harry” was married to Elizabeth Woodville’s youngest sister Kate that made the young princes his nephews by marriage. There are more relations but it is just too complicated to get into for right now.

Kate and Harry married at an extremely young age and it has been previously stated that Queen Elizabeth forced Harry into the marriage. This was actually not the case here. Even at a young age the two-showed promise of a prosperous life ahead of them. They were very fond of each other but at one point Kate felt more like it was a brother and sister fondness. That did not last long for Kate knew she loved Harry and would only give herself to him, when was the real question. Eventually Kate “seduced” Harry and got her way and from there on out they were inseparable until Richard drove a wedge between them.

During the War of the Roses there were so many feuding families and death grudges that it amounted to years of blood shed and civil war in England. It is also called the “Cousins War” because it was cousins fighting cousins. Families were torn apart brother turned on brother and there were no boundaries in the War of the Roses, nothing was off limits including children and the mentally ill.

Harry in his younger years was a ward of the crown and it displeased him greatly when he became of age that King Edward would not apply him to government affairs. It left Harry a bit disgruntled and the person he vented to was his childhood friend Richard Duke of Gloucester also the kings brother. Harry was enamored of Richard and put him up on a beautiful little pedestal, Richard you know could do no wrong in his holiness. Little known to Harry at the time was that Richard had a plan and nothing would hinder him not even his own blood relatives. My heart broke with Harry and I can say this I will NEVER EVER look at the Duke of Buckingham the same again.

5/5 I know I am beginning to feel like a broken record but this is one of the gems I have been waiting for quite some time, like since last year. I am just elated; I will never look at Buckingham the same again. I have noticed a trend when it comes to War of the Roses novels; it is that Richard is either really bad or it is written very sympathetic to him. This one was no different, the spin Susan drew on Harry was more than believably real. In such a messy time with so many intertwined family feuds Harry and Kate’s story was one of real love, heartbreak, and death on all sides. At the time there was not a single household that the war had not affected, the Buckingham household was no different than the others. A must read for all War of the Roses fans Susan might just change your mind on how you view the events during the war.

Thank you Sourcebooks for sending me this lovely book!
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Blog Award, Thank you RobinBird

Thank you RobinBird for bestowing me this wonderful award!

I really apprecite it and thank you for the kind consideration.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fact Checking the Island of Murano

During my read of "The Secret of the Glass" by Donna Russo Morin I found myself not really grasping the exact location of the island of Murano. I knew it was close to Venice but just how close?

After doing so checking afterwards I did come to the conclusion that the history is accurate in The Secret of the Glass. All the glassmakers in Venice were forced out of their homes in 1291 because all buildings then were made of wood and the people feared that the extreme heat would eventually burn everything to the ground. They really reached a high point on the island around the 14th century.
"By the 14th century, glass makers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state and found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. Of course there was a catch: glassmakers weren't allowed to leave the Republic."
I think the island has such a unique history that it makes it a charming and all enchanting place at the same time.

Interior of Santa Marie e San Donato church with famous mosaics
The City
LinkToday on the group page is also a interview with the lovely Donna Russo Morin be sure and check it out and there is a giveaway going on too which you do not want to miss!

Here is what has been going on so far for this wonderful event:
February 20thAnnouncement & opening of Giveaway at HFBRT.
February 21st - Book Review by Arleigh at, “The History of the Venice Canal System and How it Works” by Susie at All Things Royal
February 22ndBook Review by Heather at The Maiden’s Court, “Fact Checking the Island of Murano” by Lizzy at Historically Obsessed, Interview Questions with Author at HFBRT

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Nell Gwyn and Louise de Keroualle

Nell: “She knew, too, that the king had forced the Queen to accept Lady Castlemaine as one of the women of her bedchamber. All of London talked of it—the resentment of the Queen, the flaming arrogance of Lady Castlemaine, and the stubbornness of the King. She was sorry for the dark-eyed Queen

Nell Gwyn, the classic rags to riches story. A beautiful girl from the bad part of town hits it big on the stage and draws the interest of the most glittering figure at court none other than the king himself. I first fell in love with Nell when I read “The Perfect Royal Mistress” by Diane Haeger and since then I have always been on the look out for anything related to Nell Gwyn. Nell is the reason I fell in love with Charles II and “The Loves of Charles II” has been top on my list of must read Nell books.

I enjoyed this last portion of the book. I love “Nelly” and her quick wit. She was a fiery one when she wanted to be which I always thought was humorous. Nelly had two children with Charles and was pushing for them to get titles. She finally got her way when she beckoned her child to come to her and referred to him as a bastard, Charles was so appalled that he granted him his title right away. I love her antics my favorite was when she brought sweet meats to another of the kings mistresses and she had laced them with a sort of laxatives so that Charles would come to her that night. She was Charles lighthearted mistress and he always knew her to be in good cheer and always unconditionally faithful and loving to him. Charles owned her heart, she had eyes for none other than him.

“You know His most gracious Majesty never discards; he merely adds to his hand”.

Louise de Keroualle on the other hand is right up there with Barbara Castlemaine. Lousie was cold, ruthless, and always calculating her next move. She was a lady in the court of France to Charles sister Henrietta. When the siblings last met in Dover Henrietta had brought Louise with her as a companion on the trip. Charles being Charles a beauty never eluded him and Louise was no different. Louise was sent to Charles upon the sudden death of his sister as a comfort from the king of France. In reality she was a spy and she did everything in her power to make sure that the treaty that was signed at Dover was fulfilled. I do not like Louise and I am not sure if I ever will. In many reads she is the one who puts on the water works with Charles to get what she wants it was all a game to her.

I do not think she ever really loved Charles, at least not like good Nelly did. One good thing I can say about Louise de Keroualle is that she knocked Barbara Countess of Castlemaine of her spot of head mistress. On the other hand it was a case of the better of two evils.

All in all the two leading ladies of this book were with Charles to the end. An end it was too, poor Charles to me medically speaking it sounded like he had a stroke or a brain aneurysm. I figured a stroke when it was stated that he slumped on one side. Louise de Keroualle the witch was allowed with him because she was of noble birth but poor Nelly was not allowed near him or could not get to him, it was not stated. Charles last reference to Nelly has always haunted me when he told his brother who would be king next that “Please let poor Nelly not starve”. To me it has always been a reminder that even in the end he really loved Nelly.

5/5 Wow was that a read. Plaidy's background in psychology really showed through on this one. She just has a gift for understanding and throughly covering the human psychology. She gives you the most logical "Why" awnsers. I love her for it too, no one is like Plaidy in the fact that her descriptive details mixed with the psychology, it was like she was there and she just gets it. A highly recommended read and I am pretty sure that every question I have ever had about Charles II has now been answered. This has been one I have been dying to add to my collection and now Charles II can take his rightful place with the others on the Plaidy only book shelf.

R-Rating for sexual content
FTC-This novel is from my personal library


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jean Plaidy, New Release Reprints

July 13, 2010
The Murder in the Tower
The Story of Frances, Countess of Essex, a novel of the Stuarts

November 2nd 2010
The Three Crowns
The Story of William and Mary, A novel of the Stuarts

I am just going to have to get these one especially since I just finished for "The Loves of Charles II". I am not sure what number these ones are but either way they are pretty and I want them.
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Grand Event: HFBRT Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin

Happy Saturday all! Thought I would give the heads up that today is the opening day of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round table event for February.

As of today you can enter for your chance to win a copy of "Secret of the Glass" by Donna Russo Morin, just follow the link and check it out. Later there will also be a giveaway for a beautiful Murano glass heart necklace.

"The Secret of the Glass" is due to hit bookstores everywhere March 2nd be sure and stayed tuned for more on The Secret of the Glass.
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Friday, February 19, 2010


Catherine of Braganza and Barbara, Countess of Castlemaine
" Revenge, he had said, was enjoyed by the failures of this world. Those who achieved success spared little time for something which had become so trivial. He was now back in the heart of his country and the hearts of his people. He forgave those men who had been against his family, as he trusted God would forgive him his many sins".

I can say this portion of the book was not exactly my favorite. Why not high on my list? Just look who is the main protagonist in this is...Barbara Countess of Castlemaine. She has not always been a favorite of mine and for good reason. She was a witch...not in the literal sense but personality wise. This did answer for me how she had manages to sink her claws into Charles in the beginning.

Barbara came from a noble family with rank but that did not make her a lady. She was beyond lusty and had a devious mind. She was the type of woman that would beat her servants and not think twice about it. Her servants and many other people learned the hard way to steer clear of her. From the beginning of her early years she was the boss and she knew what she wanted. She wanted a week husband so she could have as many affairs as she possible wanted. She picked a week man for this position in her life and her plans worked. The first time she had a rendezvous with Charles it was when he was still in exile. Barbara had gone with her wussy husband to Holland to handle some business with the king. Barbara and the king’s affair started there and who would have guessed that the first woman he asked to sup with him on his return to the throne would be the witch Barbra.

What was it about her he was smitten with? Not only was she beyond drop dead gorgeous but also she was smart and she was had a wicked ambition. Their relationship lasted over fifteen years. How I am not sure but I believe it all comes back to Charles habit to pacify behavior and Barbra's tyrant attitude just was too much. At one point in the read it was plotted to push Barbara out of the head mistress position and it was stated that Charles was like a card holder with his women, playing different hands at any given time. Most amusing was that "he never discards yet he just adds to his hand". Barbra would be her own downfall and I was just surprised she ruled for so long.

Catherine of Braganza, sweet, innocent and fully sheltered her whole life had no idea what life she had stepped into when she married Charles II. In her early years there was much issue in Portugal as far as the ruling rights were concerned. It was lightly touched on in the book and honestly I have no prior knowledge of Catherine. Pious and sweet natured she went to England with high hopes of love and was bitterly disappointed when her Charles wanted his mistress the notorious Barbara in her list of maids of honor. I do have to say that even though Catherine typically is portrayed as a wuss, she was not when it came to this one issue. She stood firm on and the issue of Barbara and it cost her Charles love. Charles being that man that he was really did not enjoy confrontation or women upset and it just pushed him away from her even farther into Barbra's bed.

Sadly Catherine had numerous miscarriages while the other women in Charles life became pregnant repeatedly. One interesting point Plaidy hinted at was that the farthingale Portuguese women wore at the time could have left her deformed and maybe sterile. There was only one reference to this and it was before she was in England, in her native land of Portugal. Still Charles never left her or gave up in his support of her. He even nursed her back to health himself after the first miscarriage. To me that was really respectable because in a time when a wife could be easily dismissed for her lack of child bearing, he refused even a suggestion of this and adamantly refused to let anything befall her. I think the only real feeling he had for her was pity but he did care because that is the kind of man he was.

"It is the way with some women, Sire. You have but to look back and consider Henry VIII and what difficulties he had in getting an heir. It brought much incipience to him"

"And greater inconvience for his wives, I fear" added Charles.

5/5 Even though I said this was not my favorite portion it is still a wonderful read because it gave so much background on the kings very early years of his restoration. Life in England went from one extreme to the other, the backlash of the Puritan rule made everyone revolt from their moral backbones and just do what made them feel good. I do want to follow up on this read with more of the Stuart Saga and “The Merry Monarchs Wife”. A highly recommended read.

R-Rating for sexual reference. 
FTC-This novel is from my personal collection.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Every once in awhile I find myself in a historical fiction funk, Jean Plaidy always has a way of unfrazzling me. Her consistent writing skills are always on point and never confusing or lacking. Arleigh from Historical sent me this lovely jewel of a book and I am forever grateful. I have always wanted to read this book not just because I love Plaidy but for my own love of Charles II. My two favorite leading men are Charles II and Robert Dudley. To me they both are England’s historical playboys.

This book is unique in the fact that it actually is three books combined into one new reprint. The three books are “The Wandering Prince”, “A Health Unto His Majesty”, and “Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord”. It is also a part of the Stuart Saga. It is a whopper of a book at 756 pages but I can now confirm it is a well worthy read. It lived up to the mountain of hopes and expectations I laid down before reading. Charles II was a notorious lover of women it is only appropriate that it would take not one, not two, but three books just to cover the leading ladies he had through out his life.

Henriette d’Orleans and Lucy Water
“And most vivid of all, it seemed, were the figures who moved about in this perfect setting. Jewels flashed; silks and satins rustled; blue, green, and scarlet feathers drooped over shoulders and the air was filled with parfume. Fans were of brilliant colors and exquisite design: gloves were elaborately embroidered; swords were diamond hilted; spurs were of gold.”

Think back to growing up, who comes first to mind when you think of first loves? A boy from school, a kid from your neighborhood comes to mind first right? What about before you were conscious of the boy in the neighborhood…your parents, or even better a sibling that you just happen to share a special bond with? I was pleasantly surprised that Charles II first love was his baby sister “minette”, Henriette d’ Orleans.

From the very beginning this first book was all about Henriette, it was written from her point of view. Henriette was a tiny baby when England had taken a turn against her father Charles I. Opening with her daring escape to France she was only two years old. In the care of a trusted noble woman they disguised themselves and fled to France to where the banished queen Henrietta Marie was. Since the disposed queen was French it was the safest place for her to flee to. Depending on the generosity of their French relations they lived in exile in France.

At a very young age Henrietta fell in love with her 15+ year older brother Charles. It was expected for her to love him; he was easy going with a very loving and charming personality. Charles was the type of man that any woman could love because he knew the realities of women and really understood the logic behind the woman.

In exile the Stuarts suffered hardship after hardship because they were forced into relying on the charity of others. Charles I was executed by the awful Puritan Cromwell. Cromwell and the common wealth government had three of Charles I children held captive in England. With no country to call home the whole Stuart lot was forced from their home into exile. Charles II spent his days roaming the continent between his sister in Holland and his mother in France. The exile years were hard on the family and the banished queen Henrietta did not make it any easier. She actually made it worse. Her children suffered but she was too concerned with her religion to even care. She even went as far to disown her own son after he escaped captivity for making a religious promise to his father (Charles I). In my eyes the woman was just plain evil and could not be logically reasoned with.

Plaidy has a way of seamlessly bouncing between characters and this read was no different. Following all the loves of Charles to others might have been a tangled mess but this was not the case for Plaidy. From Charles sisters, mother, and his mistress Lucy Waters. Lucy must have flown under my radar but she was the one who gave birth the king’s first legitimate bastard. The child became the Duke Monmouth.

Charles loved Lucy for what she was he did not set hidden expectations on her. He just was not that kind of man. Lucy was born lusty and chance led her to Charles in Holland. Since Charles was forced to strategize and wander to get his kingdom back, it was only a matter of time before he had to move on from Holland. He did not expect Lucy to be faithful but she did try for a while and being the lusty woman that she was; it was not long before she had a replacement. I empathized with Lucy because she came across to me as a one-track kind of girl who was dumber than a box of rocks. She was built for loving and she knew this was her best quality. All things change and Lucy’s story took an unexpected turn and since I had no prior knowledge of her I was stunned and saddened by what became of Lucy.

My expectations of this book were far different in actuality. I felt like the book was more the women’s story than Charles. I think that to really get Charles II you have to fully understand the backgrounds of the many women he loved. In understanding the women and how they came into Charles life speaks volumes of his personality and who he really was.

5/5+++ Loved it! It cleared up so much for me. The big link I was missing is that Charles mother Henrietta Maria was a princess of France so technically Charles was half French. I really enjoyed “Minette's” story, I had to give this portion of the book a 5++++ because there is a twist that really got me and I LOVED it. I never even saw if coming. A highly recommended read for all. I am posting this review in sections because if I put it all together it would be the longest post in the free world so stay tuned for the next section “A health unto his Majesty”.
R-Rating sexual references.
FTC-This novel is from my personal collection.


Mailbox Mondays Catch Up

Biggest one yet. I have been so bad lately and have gotten way too many books but I am book greedy and I want them all for me. So here we go!
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Tarot mini book with mini tarot cards
  • The Last Greatest Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland
  • Herself by Leslie Carroll
  • Fallen Skies by Philippa Gregory
  • Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: Hardcover and I was so excited I found it.
  • Peony in Love by Lisa See
  • Oxford, French mini Dictionary: Just because sometimes it comes in handy when reading historical fiction set in France or Enchanted by Josephine!
  • Royal Road to Fotheringhay by Jean Plaidy
  • The Kitchen Boy by Robert Alexander: So many reccomended this to me because of this post.
  • The Secret Life of Josephine by Carolly Erickson
  • When we were Gods by Colin Falconer
  • The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
  • Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland
  • Child of the Holy Grail by Rosalind Miles: Had to get this one got the wrong cover when I got it on PBS and it did not match the other two.
  • The Queens Fool by Philippa Gregory: Listed like new was really "used, acceptable, had rips in cover!
  • Elizabeth and Leicester by Sarah Gristwood: Pissed it is missing the cover I got duped.
  • Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott

Authors and Publishers
  • Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner: Super excited about this one!
  • By Fire, by Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
  • The Queen's Pawn by Christy English: : Super excited about this one my first on Eleanore.
  • The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland: Which I won at Enchanted by Josephine, Thank you Lucy I hope to get to it soon.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

Notorious Royal Marriages gets a Rave Review from the Chicago Tribune

Notorious Royal Marriages just got a RAVE review from the Chicago Tribune. Get this though it was reviewed by a man and he LOVED it so much he gave it 5 stars just like me.

Check it out here

"From Eleanor of Aquitaine to Princess Diana, Carroll writes with verve and wit about the passionate - and occasionally perilous - events that occur when royals wed. From the occasional love match to the more frequent grudge match, Carroll’s fascinating account of nine centuries of royal marriages is an irresistible combination of People Magazine and the History Channel."

-John Charles reviews romance novels for the Chicago Tribune-

Congratulations Leslie on the well deserved review, you so earned it.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites The Painter's Honeymoon 1864

Frederick, Lord Leighton 1830-1896

This piece is very near and dear to my heart not just because I am an artist also but because you can just see the love between them. Not just for each other but also for the piece he is working on. If my husband tried to lean over me like this while I was working on something I would kill him for it. To share an intimate moment of creation with someone else is a very heartfelt moment.

This is not the usual composition of Leighton, normally he did nude or classical images. The man's hands are done in incredible detail to show how important they are to his work. The part I found most amusing about this piece is that Leighton deliberately prevented it from being shown publicly in the years following its completion. Many of his contemporaries believed he felt he had betrayed too much of his own emotion to feel comfortable exhibiting the picture. Maybe he at one point or another had a moment like this in his own life and did not want to share with the public.

Happy Valentine's day to all the lovers, may all your days be filled with love and happiness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Today in History: Catherine Howard, The Rose with out a Thorn

As many of you remember the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event this past year this is my feature post that went up on I know your thinking it is a recycled post but I can not help myself today. Today in history was the day that Catherine Howard made the exhausted walk to the block some 468 years ago.

Catherine Howard the "Rose with out a Thorn" was fifth wife of Henry VIII. She was also a first cousin of Anne Boleyn. She was executed after less than two years of marriage to Henry. The grounds for her execution were treason, in other words she cheated on Henry during the marriage. It has been implied in many novels that Catherine herself was a "silly girl" type caring only for herself. The age diffe
rence between them was probably an issue because of maturity. Catherine being in her late teens and Henry was well in his forties.

She was one of the only three women taken through the "Traitors Gate" to the tower. Anne Boleyn being the first, Catherine next, and later Elizabeth by her half sister queen bloody Mary. Upon her entry through the gate her executed lovers head were on pikes above her on the bridge. The night before her execution she had requested that the "block" be brought to her so she could practice her own beheading. Leaving her exhausted for her date with death.

ne was a very young woman. I believe was a victim of Henry VIII, granted she did cheat. I am not excusing that but she was a product of her environment and growing up with her grandmother the duchess was a very bad situation. The duchesses’ house was a notorious breeding ground of loose morals and since Catherine had spent the bulk of her childhood there doing pretty much as she pleased. It would become her downfall that her past at the duchesses home would follower her to the court of Henry VIII. This is the "Transcript of Catherine Howard loses her head" it is the original letter that ended her life and crushed Henry VIII love for her, making her no longer "the rose with out a thorn".

"Master Coulpeper, I hertely recomend me unto youe praying you to sende me worde how that you doo. Yt was showed me that you was sike, the wyche thynge trobled me very muche tell suche tyme that I here from you praying you to send me worde how that you do. For I never longed so muche for [a] thynge as I do to se you and to speke wyth you, the wyche I trust shal be shortely now, the wyche dothe comforthe me verie much whan I thynk of ett and wan I thynke agan that you shall departe from me agayne ytt makes my harte to dye to thynke what fortune I have that I cannot be always yn your company. Y[e]t my trust ys allway in you that you wolbe as you have promysed me and in that hope I truste upon styll, prayng you than that you wyll com whan my lade Rochforthe ys here, for then I shalbe beste at leaysoure to be at your commarendmant. Thaynkyng you for that you have promysed me to be sogood unto that pore felowe my man, whyche is on of the grefes that I do felle to departe from hym for than I do know noone that I dare truste to sende to you and therfor I pray you take hym to be wyth you that I may sumtym here from you one thynge. I pray you to gyve me a horse for my man for I hyd muche a do to gat one and thefer I pray sende me one by hym and yn so doying Iam as I sade afor, and thus I take my leve of you trusting to se you s[h]orttele agane and I wode you was wythe me now that yoo maitte se what pane I take yn wryte[n]g to you. Yours as long as lyffe endures Katheryn One thyng I had forgotten and that hys to instruct my man to tare here wyt[h] me still, for he sas wat so mever you bed hym he wel do et"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Winner of The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Winner of The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom is.....

Michelle "The True Book Addict"

Congrats Michelle I hope you enjoy the book!

Thank you to all who entered it was a record breaking amount of entries. It beat out "The White Queen" by Philippa Gregory. I have more in the wings just around the corner.
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Today In History, Jane Grey looses Her Head

456 years ago on February 12th 1554 Jane Grey the nine days queen was beheaded by her own cousin Queen Mary Tudor. The hardest part for me to accept is that this poor girl did not even want the crown. She was a pawn in other peoples ambitious scams of taking controlling of the crown. Mostly her parents and her father in law, sadly her nasty mother did not even try to plead for her daughters life. Her husband Guilford Dudley was also executed in public earlier that day and her father was executed a week after Jane. I found this picture and it is stated that it is Jane Grey but in the caption it also say Jeane.

"Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact, indeed, against the Queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me: but touching the procurement and desire thereof by me or on my behalf, I do wash my hands thereof in innocency, before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day."

The image on the left is one of Guilford Dudley

"She pleaded the axeman, "I pray you dispatch me quickly". Referring to her head, she asked, "Will you take it off before I lay me down?" and the axeman answered, "No, madam". She then blindfolded herself. Jane had resolved to go to her death with dignity, but once blindfolded, failing to find the block with her hands, began to panic and cried, "What shall I do? Where is it?" An unknown hand, possibly Feckenham's, then helped her find her way and retain her dignity at the end. With her head on the block, Jane spoke the last words of Jesus as recounted by Luke: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit!" She was then beheaded."

The "Jane" inscription in the Beauchamp Tower in the Tower of London

I had never noticed until just now that there is a woman throwing herself towards the wall like she just can not take it to watch Jane die. More than likely it is Jane's long time nurse who loved her like her own child.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today in History, Elizabeth of York Birthday and Passing

553 years ago today Elizabeth of York was born. Her birthday is February 11th 1466. A weird fluke is that she actually passed away on her birthday February 11th 1503 at the age of 37. After the heartbreaking death of her son Arthur she became pregnant once again. She gave birth to a daughter Katherine on February 2nd 1503, sadly Katherine passed away on the same day. Nine days later Elizabeth succumbing to post part-partum infection and also passed away. It always has seemed to me like she gave up fighting and gave into her broken heart. The image is her coat of arms.

"Her husband appeared to sincerely mourn her death: according to one account, he "privily departed to a solitary place and would no man should resort unto him". Despite his reputation for thrift, he gave her a splendid funeral: she lay in state in the Tower and was buried in Westminster Abbey, in the Lady Chapel Henry had built."

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Book Review: POWDER AND PATCH by Georgette Heyer

I really have been missing out on the whole regency romance gig. I now can proudly say I have number two under my belt.

Powder and Patch was a darling read. Set in England and France during which the fashion of the time was wearing powdered wigs, make up, and high heels. Philip Jettan was a down to earth country gentleman who was lacking in “polish” as his father stated. He was painfully blunt and had not one single vanity about him. That is until his childhood love, his hope to be betrothed, the beautiful Cleone Charteris draws the attention of a newly arrived powdered and patched gentlemen by the name of Mr Bancroft. Cleone began to waver on her feelings for Philip because she concluded she would like a man with “polish”. Philip did not fit into that grouping.

Cleone and Philip cared profoundly for each other having grown up together. But she had other dreams of what her kind of man was; she did care about “frivolities” as Philip had put it. Somewhere inside of her were unanswered feelings for Philip and he knew it. To defend his status with her he baited Mr Bancroft into a duel. Proving Philip's lack of “polish” he was defeated by Bancroft. Even worse for Philip, Cleone had the impudence to chastise him for his lack of gentlemen skills. With that Philip left her for London with only with a promise from her she would wait. He would have to go to his uncle, like his father had told him so many times before.

Upon Philip’s arrival and full discussion with his uncle of his situation, the two men decided he should disappear to Paris for his transformation. Awh Paris, the late nigh parties, courtiers, and powdered faces were a sight to behold in themselves. I swear you could just smell the perfumed, gem-encrusted fashions. Philip lived up to his “short shirt” potiental and became everything Cleone wanted. Thing between them however had turned sour. He wanted real love, to be loved for who he truly was, not for what he dressed like. Oh a tangled web we weave ourselves into for love. A few mishaps and everything could be lost forever.

5/5 LOVED it! I hated how short it was though. A super short read at actual story meat at about 180+ pages. I loved the details of the fashion of the time. Brooches, hairpins, silk stockings, and dripping in lace, Heyer beautifully details everything. So Austen, it is charming.

Thank you to Source Books for sending me this beautiful novel. I loved it.
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Monday, February 08, 2010

Today In History, Mary Queen of Scots Looses her Head

423 years ago today Mary Queen of Scots was executed by her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. 
"The executioners and her two servants helped remove a black outer gown, two petticoats, and her corset to reveal a deep red chemise—the liturgical color of martyrdom in the Catholic Church. As she disrobed she smiled faintly to the executioner and said, "Never have I had such assistants to disrobe me, and never have I put off my clothes before such a company." She was then blindfolded and knelt down on the cushion in front of the block. She positioned her head on the block and stretched her arms out behind her."
Queen Mary's official death warrant issued by Queen Elizabeth I
Click image for a larger picture.

"Your judgment I condemn not, neither do I mistake your reasons, but pray you to accept my thankfulness, excuse my doubtfulness, and take in good part my answer, answerless".
Elizabeth to Parliamentary Delegation again in regards to the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites Study of a Girl Reading 1860s-70s

Valentine Cameron Prinsep 1838-1904

This Pre-Rapaelite was very hard to find anything on. I might be mistaken but I think that this one actually is a mural or that Prinsep's other pieces were murals. The problem with the murals is that there was not enough preparation made to the wall before the paint was laid on. With in months of the pieces completion the paint began to sink into the wall. Today, despite many efforts to revive them, the pictures have almost disappeared. Which is more than likely the reason why I was not able to find a graphic of this piece on the web.

The subject some might view as dull. Prinsep made it compelling in the wonderfully absorbed expression of the reading girl. An absorption suggesting she has a true love of books and is fascinated with the story she reads.

This is for all the lady book lovers who just love books this much too.

Blog Award, Thank You True Book Addict

Michelle over at the true book addict bestowed this beauty on me. You know I love pink!

This is super cute and thank you Michelle

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Friday, February 05, 2010

The Amber Room discovered? Time will Tell

The Amber room which falls for me into the category of the Seven Wonders of the world has always fascinated me. It has even been dubbed by some as the "eighth wonder" of the world. Mysterious and alluring as it is what is it that is so fascinating about it? Besides being a whole room made completely of the precious stone Amber, it is a gem of Russian history.

To the left is a picture of the original Amber Room before WWII

It had been said that when all the candles were lit the room glowed gold. Which would not surprise me since amber is light reflective. It had to have been a sight to behold, rendering one speechless.

1716 it was given by Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I to his then ally, Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. In Russia it was expanded and after several renovations, it covered more than 55 square meters and contained over six tons of amber.

Later the room was looted by Nazi Germany during WWII even after it was covered with wall paper to conceal its location. The Nazi's still found it and German soldiers disassembled the Amber Room within 36 hours under the supervision of two experts supposedly to be sent to Königsberg in East Prussia. The pieces were put into crates and from there is where the mystery begins.

Some believe the crates were seen at a railway station in Königsberg and it is possible they might have been loaded onto a boat that was sunk by a Soviet submarine. Another possible avenue might be it was taken to Weimar, the location of a "planned propaganda center". At one point later in the war Königsberg was heavily bombed and the the remains of the castle were destroyed by The Red Army in the 1960's.

The castle to the left is Königsberg before WWI.

Never to be found again the mysterious disappearance of The Amber Rooms pieces has intrigued many over the years. In 1997 one Italian stone mosaic that was part of a set of four which had decorated the Amber Room did turn up in western Germany, in the possession of the family of a soldier who had helped pack up the Amber Room

Amber which consists of fossilized tree resin, has always been prized for its natural beauty. Yes just like in Jurassic park it does contain some natural elements like animal and plant material. The uniqueness of Amber also come with a down side. If it is not properly cared for it will turn to dust. Even with modern day Amber jewelry you can not spray perfume or hairspray even possibly near it or it will develop a whitish film on it that may be permante. It is so sensitive it can not rub together like in beads, steam cleaners and ultrasonic cleaners will shatter the gem, it can not come into contact with any strong solutions, soaps, detergents, commercial jewelry cleaning solutions. Even kitchen substances such as lard, salad oil, butter and excessive heat of ovens and burners. Do not place amber art objects near heating ducts or in direct sunshine. Displays in lighted showcases should be properly ventilated. Avoid exposure to sudden changes of temperature, such as hot tubs, very cold water, and reaching into ovens, followed by a cold sink.

A recreated Amber room exist today at Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Someday I would love to see it for myself. I have been following the story of the Amber Room for some time becasue it perodically has showed up in the news. People stating that they think they might have found it but all have came back with empty hands. No Amber, no nothing. Until now a man who might be the closest to come to finding it.

"Priceless Amber Room of the Tsars, looted and hidden by the Nazis, is found by Russia treasure hunter"

"The Amber Room of the Tsars - one of the greatest missing treasures of WW2 that was looted by the Nazis during their invasion of the Soviet Union - may have been found.
A Russian treasure hunter is currently excavating in the enclave of Kaliningrad where he has discovered a World War II era bunker that the local German high command used in the battle for the city in 1945.
If Sergei Trifonov is correct then he has solved one of the greatest riddles left over from the war - and will make himself into a multi-millionaire."

"He anticipates that he will break into the bunker by the end of the month to find the treasure."
The real issue I see is if this man really does get into the bunker and finds the original crates that the Amber panels were loaded into then what about the actual Amber. With no one around to maintain its up keep then the Amber would it not have turned to dust? Time being the enemy here would there really be anything to find or just a pile of dust and some empty crates?

Thank you to the lovely Michelle Moran for posting this wonderful news link on the search for the amber room. It just happens to be another one of my historical obsessions.

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