Friday, December 18, 2009

The Empress of Farewells: The Story of Charlotte, Empress of Mexico

The Empress of Farewells: The Story of Charlotte, Empress of Mexico is a 2002 book written by Prince Micheal of Greece.

This book is centered on Empress Charlotte of Mexico.  Born the daughter of Leopold I (The First King of the Belgians) and his wife Queen Louise-Marie. She is the sister of Leopold II and Aunt to Crown Princess Stephanie of Austria and Albert I of Belgium. She was close to her Mother although she was her Father's daughter. Charlotte was particularly close to her Grandmother, Queen Maria Amelia of France. When she was only 10 years old, Charlotte's Mother died. After her death, Charlotte began to become more reclusive.

On July 1957, Charlotte married Archduke Maximilian of Austria (Max).  The Archduchess Sophie, Charlotte's Mother-in-law, took a liking in Charlotte and thought of her as the perfect wife for an archduke. Charlotte didn't liked the Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) and had great animosity against 'Sisi' because of her close relationship with Max. Maximilian is then appointed Governor of  Lombary and Venetia though soon he was demoted by his overly jealous brother, Franz Joseph I of Austria. Although they did not complain about their treatment both still wished for something more.

Somewhere in the 1860s, Napoleon III of France began creating the Mexican Empire. He offered it to Maximilian and reluctantly accepted the terms of Renunciation of his and his heirs claims to the Austria throne to become Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico.  Maximilian's and Charlotte's reign began with "great" enthusiasm from the Mexican people. Max and Carlota had no children but they did adopt a child named Augustin Itrubide.Which led many people to ask the question why? Did he not like Charlotte. There had been many rumors near the end of Max's reign that he had been having affairs with the local Indians. Was he impotent? OR? Was he a homosexual?

After only a few months, Napoleon began pulling troops out of Mexico which was a mortal blow to the new empire. Charlotte went back to Europe in an attempt to save her husbands throne. She failed. And she began to suffer from paranoia. She never again saw Maximilian. Maximilian was was executed in 1867. His last words were "Poor Charlotte".

After, Maximilian's death Charlotte went insane. Charlotte was still "deeply" in love with her husband and cherished his possessions. Charlotte spent the rest of her life imprisoned first at Miramar (Max's treasure home) and then at Castle of Bouchout.She died on the 19 January, 1927. She died of natural causes and in the end she finally was reunited with Maximilian.

I give this book a 4/5. I did like the book a lot but the author did asks too many questions and it was nerve racking after a while.It is a medium read and a little better than an average book. This is one of the rare books on Empress Charlotte of Mexico so if you have the chance I suggest you read it.   


Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Romanov Autumn : Stories from the Last Century of Imperial Russia

A Romanov Autumn :  Stories from the Last Century of Imperial Russia  is a 2000 book written by Charlotte Zeepvat.

This book travels through all the characters of the Romanov Family. They range is from Nicholas I & Alexandra Feodorvna (Charlotte of Prussia) to the last tsarevich, Alexei. The book tells us about the decline of the Russian monarchy in all of its forms. We have points of view on what could  have been the "reformation" of Russia from such people as : Alexander II, Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse), and Grand Duke Constantine Nikolayevtich. The book mainly focuses on the women of the Romanov family and not just the tsarinas, there are quite a few chapters on Grand Duchesses. The book explains the women's problem with becoming Russian. Marie of Hesse and Alix of Hesse (Alexandra Feodorvna) both were incredibly zealous, more than most of their predecessors have been,  about becoming Russian and yet they above all else were least accepted by the people. This book shows the Romanov family as normal men and women and not was "god" like as they are usually shown. They show the tsars reluctant to do their duty and they show the lovelifes of Tsars and Grand Dukes gone wrong. This book portrays Nicholas II as a family man, caring foremost about his family. The book ends with what could have been. Would the Russian Monarchy have survived if Alexei had come to the throne. Although his father, Nicholas II wasn't liked anymore, but the people still loved the tsarevitch.      

I give this book a 3/5. I did enjoy the book a lot though the odd random character did confuse me quite often. The book is an interesting read but will confuse you. I liked the great tapestry of characters presented in the book (except for the odd problem) and the way it was written is very relaxing. I would suggest this to Romanov fans if they would like a deeper look into the Romanov family but to me a new-comer should not read this book because they WILL get confused with all the characters involved.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Edward The King

Also knowns as : Edward VII  and The Royal Victorians

Edward The King is a 1975 TV drama series with 1 hour long episodes (13). It is based on the biography of Edward VII by Philip Magnus. Although the show focuses on Edward VII life, it doesn't put to much emphasis on his reign.

Timothy West as Edward VII
Annette Crosbie as Queen Victoria
Helen Ryan as Queen Alexandra

Annette Crosbie won a BAFTA award for her performance in the show.

The series starts with the first few years of Queen Victoria's and Prince Albert's marriage with Victoria discovering that she was pregnant. Now we all know that Queen Victoria hated being pregnant and of course we see her take out her anger on Albert. Then, Victoria gives birth to Prince Albert Edward. When Victoria (the princess Royal) is ill, this stirs up conflict between Prince Albert and Baroness Lehzen which results in Lehzen's retirement back to Germany. The second episode shows the home life of the royal family. Albert Edward (Bertie) is shown is his early years of stress of over exertions in the study room. The Princess Royal becomes engaged (eventually marrying) Prince Frederick of Prussia. Queen Victoria gets overly jealous of her daughter when Prince Albert lavishes his attention on her to help her prepare for new duties as a Princess of Prussia and eventually Empress of Germany. Bertie soon enters into the military and on trip to the Americas. While in the military, Bertie made some louche friends and they send him into a series of vices from smoking and drinking to his one nighter with the actress, Nellie Clifton. When his father discovers this, he immediately goes to Cambridge (in horrible weather) to chastise his son. From over work and worry, Prince Albert dies on December 14, 1861.

The next season is based on Bertie's marriage to the Danish Princess, Alexandra. Their relationship is hard because of Bertie infidelities but in the end Alexandra summed up their relationship by saying "he loved me best". It shows them through troubling times such as Alexandra outright refusal to see the Kaiser Wilhelm I as the death of Albert Victor It also has snippets from the lives of other royals connected to Britain's Royal Family such as Maria Feodorvna (Alexandra's younger sister) and her husband Alexander III or Russia etc.
After the death of Queen Victoria and Albert ascension (taking on the name Edward VII saying that "his father was sacred and that there should only ever be ONE Albert") we see him earning the title of "Peace Maker of Europe" most notably through being able to control his nephew, William II of Prussia. While trying to create better conditions for the poor Edward fell prey to his already bad bronchitis (most likely from smoking too much). On April 28, he suffered from several heart attacks and was clear to everyone that he was dying. When his son, George, came to tell his father that one of his horses had won a race, he said "I'm very glad" and then died (May 6, 1910).        
 I give this TV drama a 4/5.  I particularly loved Annette Crosbie in Edward The King. I think it is her best work yet! I found that Helen Ryan made a superb and beautiful Alexandra. I'll love the story line and the costumes were superb! I liked this series because it gave us an in depth look into the royal family without showing what happened outside in the world. I really enjoyed this series and would suggest it to all!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bertie & Elizabeth

 Bertie & Elizabeth is a 2002 television film produced by Carlton Television. This film is about the lives of George VI (Bertie) and his wife, Queen Elizabeth from their first meeting to George's untimely death.

      James Wilby as King George VI
      Juliet Aubrey as Queen Elizabeth

The Movie begins with Bertie's & Elizabeth's first meeting. Which follows with the courtship and marriage. After Edward VIII's abdication, Bertie is made King George VI. Bertie at first is still very inexperienced but by the end of the movie, he is seen as the 'People's King', the very symbol of the monarchy. The movie also shows the lives of the couple during World War II.  When the war is over, the movie shows Queen Elizabeth II to Prince Philip of Greece. The movie ends with George's illness that eventually led to his death.

I give this movie a 2/5. I found it very short (although I later found out that it was 2 hours long). It wasn't that special. It was a little boring really. The acting wasn't that good. I REALLY DIDN'T ENJOY THIS. Some people might but I am not one of those peoples. I would not recommend this to the viewers.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Sisters That Would Be Queen [Mary, Catherine and Lady Jane Grey : A Tudor Tragedy]

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen [Mary, Catherine and Lady Jane Grey : A Tudor Tragedy] is a  2009 book written my Leanda de Lisle.

The Book is about the lives of the three Grey sisters, Jane, Catherine and Mary. Although most people only know about Jane, her sisters also lead very interesting lives.
The First part focusing about Lady Jane Grey/Dudley. Lady Jane Grey was the daughter of Frances Brandon and Henry Grey. She was the grandniece of Henry VIII through her grandmother, Mary Tudor Queen of France. Jane was rather small for her age but she was said to be very intelligent and staunchly Protestant. Duke Northumberland, John Dudley, the Lord Protector, designed a plan that after the death of Edward VI instead of the crown passing to the Lady Mary (who was Catholic and Dudley feared that Mary would try to bring the country back to Catholicism but if he skipped her he'd have to skip the Protestant) and Elizabeth because of their illegitimacy but to the next in line, Lady Jane Grey. He quickly married his son, Guilford, to her as a way of keeping power. When Edward VI died, he proclaimed Jane the new Queen. The people of England thought that the Lady Mary was the rightful Queen so the revolted only after 9 days of Queen Jane's reign. Originally, Queen Mary thought of granting a pardon for Jane and her husband but when a revolt that may have had the intentions of bringing Jane back on the throne, Mary signed her Death warrant. Jane Dudley was beheaded February 12, 1554.

Part Two focuses on Lady Catherine & Lady Mary Grey. Lady Catherine the middle child was born on August 25, 1540. Catherine was wed to was first wed Henry Herbert in a double wedding with her elder sister, Jane, on May 21, 1553. But after the fall of the Grey family, Herbert had his marriage with Catherine annulled. Catherine later wed Edward Seymour sometime in 1560 but she did not have Queen Elizabeth's approval which would later prove disastrous. Catherine hid the secret of her marriage for sometime even after she became pregnant. She pleaded with Robert Dudley but he sent her away and the next day he told the Queen. The Queen, angered by the news, sent Catherine to the Tower of London, her husband joined her after he had finished his studies in France. Catherine bore 2 children  (both born in the tower), Edward & Thomas. In 1562, the marriage between Catherine Grey and Edward Seymour was declared annulled. Catherine was moved to Cockfield, Oxford. She died on January 16 1568 of consumption.

Mary Grey was the youngest and also the smallest. She was said to be a dwarf with a hunchback and 'very ugly'. Mary was placed under house arrest in 1565 for having married Thomas Keys without permission of the Queen (the same as her sister). After Keys death in 1572, she was released and occasionally allowed to visit court. Mary died childless, aged 33.

I give this book a 3/5 I liked this segment because if doesn't antagonize Frances and Henry Grey. In the Tudor Era, what Frances and Henry did to their children was not so uncommon.  Personally, I decided to listen to the audio book rather than to read it to save me the trouble. I really disliked the reader, maybe it's because I'm used to things in my way such as the way she said Jousting she pronounced it as JOO-sting like I say it as JOW-sting. Indeed I think some of the books possibly ratings were deducted because of this. The book itself was fine. There was VERY good detail on Mary and Catherine's life but seeing as the book as joined with Jane's life (whose life would have made a better book on it's own), which was rather a general outlook than a detailed one. If you are looking for a book on Jane Grey, I suggest you read a more thorough book on her life than this. But if you would like an in-depth look on the two forgotten Grey sisters this book is a great help.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Basilisk is a Japanese manga/anime series. Written by Masaki Segawa in 2003 & 2004, based on the The Kouga ninja scrolls by Futaro Yamada published in 1958. The anime was released in 2005 by GONZO studios. Though this anime is not really historical it is based in 1614 in Medieval Japan.

 Basilisk won the 2004 Kondasha Manga Award for general Manga

Two rival Clans, the Iga Tsubagakure & Kouga Manjidani, who have hated each other since anyone can remember. But they have been forced by Hattori Hanzo I to cease their fighting.But tension between the two clans continue.
Shogun Ieyasu is ready to retire and wants to hand over power to his son, Hidetada but soon a sucession crisis appears and threatens to tear the shogunate apart. Ieyasu calls off the cease-fire between the two clans. Each Clan represents one of the factions of supporting Ieyasu's grandsons. They must choose 10 of their finest warriors to fight 10 warrior from the other clan in a kill or be killed manner. Which ever clan kills the chosen 10 from the other will be given favor for a 1000 years and the grandson the represent will suceed Ieyasu.
Before this conflict began, the heir to the Iga & Kouga, Oboro & Gennosuke are engaged in hopes that their marriage will stop the fighting between the two clans. But they must either choose to kill the one they love or risk the totally annihilation of their clans.


When all is said and done, and only Oboro and Gennosuke remain of the two clans. They must face off in a final frontation. Oboro unwilling to kill the one she so dearly loves, kills herself (uttering "I love you Gennosuke-sama" before dying). Gennosuke, hear-broken, decides to take his life as well. Before he stabs himself, he writes that the last person alive was Oboro.

Basilisk also has a live action movie counterpart called "Shinobi : Heart Under A Blade".The plot is basically the same except that instead of Oboro AND Gennosuke having the mystic eyes, only Oboro has the special eyes (the combined powers of Gennosuke and Oboro). Instead of 10 nin there are only 6. The drama between the ninja are not apparent in the movie (except for that of Kagerou and Gennosuke). The Movie ends with Gennosuke and Oboro in a final battle. Gennosuke lets Oboro kill him. The whole point of sending the shinobi off to fight each other so that their villages will be defenseless. When Oboro goes to tell Ieyasu that she is the sole survivor, she discovers that her village and that of the Manjidani are under attack. She begs him to leave them be but Ieyasu says he can not, claiming that the ninja are to dangerous, using her dojitsu as an example. Oboro then blinds herself to prove that she is harmless. In the end, Ieyasu relents and leaves the villages. I understand that when you make a book or TV show into a movie, you have to cut things. And I didn't mind the loss of some characters. But however, the story lost some of its good features during the cutting of characters. I give the movie a 3/5.  

I give this a 5/5 It was simply brilliant. The drama played about between all the characters was stunning. The timeless love story of doomed loved has never been more appealing. The story was rich with romance, suspense, and violence. I didn't like the art so much. The story plot could not have been better. Entertaining and Witty. I would rate is 16+ for its violence but other than that I would definitely suggest this for ALL!

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Frozen Flower

A Frozen Flower is a 2008 Korean Film directed by Yu ha. A story particularly controversial is the characters’ violation of royal family protocol and their pursuit of love. I am not a 100% sure that this movie is based on a true story but the fact that it's historically based is just fine with me.

Set near the end of the Goryeo era (AD 918 ~ 1392). The story is about a love triangle between King, His Queen, and the Commander of the Kunryoungwe, Hong Lim.The King and Hong Lim are in the beginning lovers while the Queen sleeps in a cold bed with no hope of having children. Because the King does not have an heir, the Yuan Dynasty in China wants to put one of its members on the Goryeo throne. The King knows that he can not produce an heir because he can not get it up for a woman, so he asks his lover Hong Lim to impregnate his wife for him. Hong Lim first sees it only as a duty he must fulfill for this master but soon he grows to love the Queen.The King then grows jealous towards his wife for snatching his lover away from him, so he asks Hong Lim to stop visiting the Queen's bed chamber. But the bond between the Commander and the Queen has grown too strong and he continues to see her. When the King discovers this he flies into a fit of rage and has Hong Lim castrated. When the King discovers that his wife is pregnant, he decides to accept the child but to make sure that no one will question the legitimacy of the child he orders the executions of all the people involved. The Queen doesn't want Hong Lim to die so she send for him to go to a distant land but he comes back to rescue her. The King and Hong Lim engaged in a fierce battle. The King stabs Hong Lim in the heart and asks whether or not Hong Lim ever loved him. Hong Lim replies no. The King is temporary stunned and Hong Lim stabs him. In the end both men die.

I am giving this movie a 4/5. The plot in the movie was good and I did like the story but then ending was a bit unsettling. I myself am not a big fan of happy endings but this was just weird. I feel rather sorry for the King and wish things had worked better for him. As for the Queen and Hong Lim, I think that they were a bit too selfish. The Movie in itself had far too many sex scenes which in my taste was rather odd. But all in all the movie was fine and I would say if you like lots of drama and Historical Korean (I do) scenery go ahead and watch this. This movie is NOT for minors.    

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne

Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne is a controversial 2006 book by Ben Hills. The book drew criticism from the Men in Black (Imperial Household Agency) and Government of Japan. It is criticized because of its supposed inaccuracies of Princess Aiko as a test-tube baby, Crown Princess Masako is suffer from depression, and that the relationship of the Emperor and the Crown Prince is strained.

The Book is focused around the life of Crown Princess Masako of Japan. The Book begins by describing Princess Masako & Prince Naruhito wedding and how Masako is now part of the Imperial Family. Next the introduce the humble beginnings of the Masako Odawa & the Restricted life of Prince Naruhito. Third, it shows the brief courtship of Prince Naruhito and his future wife, Masako Odawa. After, It shows the married life of Masako and her husband before the birth of Princess Aiko. A chapter is devoted the Princess' problem of not producing an heir. In the book, Ben Hill implies that Princess Aiko is a test-tube baby. The Book ends with Masako's life filled with stress and how she is suffering from depression.

I give this book a 4/5. I thought the book was ok but it was indeed offensive. I know that the stress of being a royal bound by tradition is indeed tiring and thought Hills ranting on that wasn't that bad but I found his claims that Princess Aiko was a test-tube baby was just too outrageous and I don't think that the Japanese Government was overreacting. The book does get a bit boring about 5/8 into the book. I suggest that if you like Japanese History you should check this book out but I would not suggest it for any other History fan.