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.