August 2007: Some notable Royal Women in history

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Nov 26, 2003
Summer holiday is coming to a close - and I certainly hope you've had better weather than me. Rain, rain, and more rain… it is hardly the stuff the summers in our imaginations are made of, is it?

It has been a summer of royal events, even if July is technically the summer holiday month in northern Europe. The Christening of Princess Isabella of Denmark, with Mathilde of Belgium and Alexia of Greece and Denmark as royal sponsors, and many other royals in attendance. The birthday celebrations of Queen Sonja of Norway with the following cruise. Crown Princess Victoria turning 30. Infanta Sofia of Spain's christening, the national day in Belgium, the Red Cross ball in Monaco… there have been a lot of events for us to follow.


The Norwegian royal family on July 4th - in Stavanger.​

We have chosen to have royal women in history as a subject of this newsletter, and have selected a few. Doubtless - we could have created a 10-page-long thread, (if not several) if we were to include everybody, so we have chosen some. If there's someone special that we've missed - there's always Royal ChitChat for starting a new thread about the subject. :flowers:

Here's to having a nice August,
Avalon, Norwegianne & Zonk
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What happened in July?

01.07 - Birthday of Charles Armstrong-Jones (1999)
03.07 - Birthday of Prince Maximilian, Margrave of Baden (1933)
03.07 - Birthday of Princess Marie Louise of Baden (1969)
04.07 - Birthday of Prince Michael of Kent (1942)
04.07 - Birthday of Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand (1957)
04.07 - Birthday of Queen Sonja of Norway (1937)
07.07 - Birthday of Prince Nicholas of Montenegro (1944)
09.07 - Birthday of Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark (1965)
11.07 - Birthday of Prince Kyrill, Prince of Preslay (1964)
11.07 - Birthday of Prince Jean-Christophe Napoleon (1986)
12.07 - Birthday of Count Jefferson von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth (1967)
14.07 - Birthday of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden (1977)
15.07 - Birthday of Camille Gottlieb (1998)
15.07 - Birthday of Prince Lukas of Bulgaria (1997)
15.07 - Birthday of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei (1946)
16.07 - Birthday of Princess Marie of Liechtenstein (1975)
17.07 - Birthday of Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall (1947)
17.07 - Birthday of Crown Prince Alexander (1945)
17.07 - Birthday of Felipe Juan Froilan de Marichilar y Borbon (1998)
18.07 - Birthday of Muna Juma of Jordan (1996)
18.07 - Birthday of Prince Alexander of Belgium (1942)
19.07 - Birthday of Prince Ernst-August Jr. of Hannover (1983)
20.07 - Birthday of Crown Prince Haakon of Norway (1973)
20.07 - Birthday of Princess Alexandra of Hannover (1999)
22.07 - Birthday of Prince Felix of Denmark (2002)
23.07 - Birthday of Princess Georgina Maximiliane Tatjana Maria of Liechtenstein (2005)
24.07 - Birthday of Princess Sarvath of Jordan (1947)
25.07 - Birthday of Lord Nicholas Windsor (1970)
25.07 - Birthday of Princess Maria Olympia of Greece and Denmark (1996)
27.07 - Birthday of Archduke Bartholomeus of Austria (2006)
27.07 - Birthday of Princess Mafalda-Ceceilia of Bulgaria (1994)
28.07 - Birthday of Crown Prinxe Vajiralongkorn of Thailand (1952)
28.07 - Birthday of Samuel Chatto (1996)
30.07 - Birthday of Infanta Maria del Pilar (1936)
30.07 - Birthday of Young Crown Prince Hridayendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal (2002)
30.07 - Birthday of Carlos Morales y de Grecia (2005)
31.07 - Birthday of Marina Ogilvy (1966)
31.07 - Birthday of Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932)

27.07 - Death Anniversary of Shahanshah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1980)
31.07 - Death Anniversary of King Baudouin of Belgium (1993)

Weddings and Anniversaries
21.07.1960 - Wedding Anniversary of Prince Carl, Duke of Wurtemberg and Princess Diane of Orleans
01.07.1995 – Wedding Anniversary of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and Marie Chantal Miller
02.07.2005 – Wedding Anniversary of Archduke Maximilian of Austria and Maya Askari
02.07.1959 – Wedding Anniversary of King Albert II of Belgium and Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria
03.07.1993 – Wedding Anniversary of Prince Alois of Liechtenstein and Duchess Sophie of Bavaria
04.07.1999 – Wedding Anniversary of Countess Clarissa zu Toerring-Jettenbach and Prince Tassilo von Ratibor-Corvey
08.07.2000 – Wedding Anniversary of Prince Bernhard van Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven & Annette Sekreve
09.07.2005 – Wedding Anniversary of Princess Alexandra zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn and Count Stefano Hunyady von Kethily
09.07.1999 – Wedding Anniversary of Princess Alexia of Greece and Denmark & Carlos Morales Quintana
12.07.2002 - Wedding Anniversary of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and Salma Bennani
17.07.1999 – Wedding Anniversary of Prince Constantin of Liechtenstein and Countess Marie Kalnoky
30.07.1967 - Wedding Anniversary of Reigning Prince Hans Adam II of Liechtenstein and Countess Marie Kinsky

State Visits/Official Visits
12.07 - Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to visit Belgium

Special Events
01.07 - Concert For Diana - Preparations for the 10th Anniversary Concert and Memorial Service
04.07 - 70th Birthday Celebrations of Queen Sonja
14.07 - Crown Princess Victoria turns 30
21.07 National Day of Belgium
27.07 - Red Cross Ball - July 27th, 2007

Other Events of Note
01.07 - Christening of Princess Isabella of Denmark
15.07 - Christening of Infanta Sofía of Spain
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What will happen in August?

03.08 Birthday of Charlotte Casiraghi (1986)
03.08 Birthday of Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson (1943)
03.08 Birthday of Prince Louis of Luxembourg (1986)
05.08 Birthday of Princess Irene of the Netherlands (1939)
06.08 Birthday of Columbus Taylor (1994)
08.08 Birthday of Princess Beatrice of York (1988)
11.08 Birthday of Princess Mabel van Oranje-Nassau (1960)
12.08 Birthday of Achileas Andreas, Prince of Greece and Denmark (2000)
12.08 Birthday of Princess Sarah of Jordan (1978)
12.08 Birthday of Queen Sirikit of Thailand (1932)
13.08 Birthday of Princess Rahma of Jordan (1969)
15.08 Birthday of The Princess Royal (1950)
16.08 Birthday of Duke Paul-Vladimir of Oldenburg (1969)
16.08 Birthday of Princess Luisa of Savoy (2006)
16.08 Birthday of Countess Ingrid Alexandra Irma Astrid Benedikte von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth (2003)
19.08 Birthday of The Duchess of Anhalt (1961)
19.08 Birthday of Prince Philipp Erasmus of Liechtenstein (1946)
19.08 Birthday of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway (1973)
20.08 Birthday of Prince Gabriel of Belgium (2003)
21.08 Birthday of King Mohammed VI of Morocco (1963)
23.08 Birthday of Queen Noor of Jordan (1951)
24.08 Birthday of Alexandre Eric Stéphane Coste (2003)
26.08 Birthday of Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester (1944)
26.08 Birthday of Princess Maria-Laura of Belgium, Archduchess of Austria-Este (1988)
28.08 Birthday of Prince Nikolai of Denmark (1999)
30.08 Birthday of Princess Lilian, the Duchess of Halland (1915)
30.08 Birthday of Former Queen Anne-Marie of Greece (born Princess of Denmark) (1946)
31.08 Birthday of Queen Rania of Jordan (1970)

Weddings and Wedding Anniversaries
04.08 Prince Faisal and Princess Aliya of Jordan (1987)
06.08 Prince Manuel of Bavaria and Princess Anna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (2005)
09.08 Duchess Fleur of Wurttemberg and Count Moritz von Goess (2003)
13.08 Princess Xenia of Hohenlohe-Langenburg and Max Soltmann (2005)
25.08 Crown Prince Haakon of Norway & Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby (2001)
27.08 Prince Pieter Christiaan of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven and Anita Theodora van Eijk (2005)
27.08 (2006)
29.08 King Harald of Norway and Sonja Haraldsen (1968)

30.08 Prince Ferdinand-Maximilian zu Ysenburg und Büdingen & Sophie De Bois (2003)

Special Events
04.08 -
31.08 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. (1997) - Memorial service.

Other Events of Note
07.08 Anniversary of Enthronement Ceremony of King Albert II of Belgium (1993)
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In royal history, it has usually been focus on the males - and the sole purpose of the queens and princesses have been to birth the heir to the throne, and marry well so that their countries may live in peaceful alliances with other countries - and other than that, be as inconspicuous as possible. This month, the Newsletter team is putting focus on some women who may have gone beyond the expectations, in some way or other. It is a limited number we have chosen, and while we're certain that there should be several more included, time as well as summer holidays put a stop to it.
Margrete I (Margaret I) – When Margrete Valdemarsdatter was born in 1353 – one couldn’t possibly have foreseen how her life would impact the way of life in Scandinavia for a long time to come. Certainly, a princess was meant to marry well – and she fulfilled that aspect by being married off as a ten-year-old, to the king of Norway. A queen was meant to give her husband and her country an heir, and she fulfilled that, when she at seventeen, gave birth to a boy, Olav/Oluf. Her goal in life had been attained. However, as the sole surviving child of Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark upon his death in 1375 – she managed to get her five-year-old son elected King of Denmark. As Olav was underage, his mother was to be regent until her son came of age. When her husband, Håkon VI of Norway, passed away – Olav inherited the throne, Norway and Denmark were united in a personal union under the same king – with Margrete as the regent. When Olav passed away in 1387, Margrete took into her care her sister’s nephew. She was elected regent in Denmark in 1387, and in Norway in 1388. Eventually, she would also be elected regent of Sweden – hence she controlled an area that spanned from today’s Finland in the east to Greenland in the west. In 1396, she had her sister’s nephew hailed as king in Kalmar, and formed a formal union between the three countries, but while she might have turned over the visible crown – she was still the one pulling the strings until her death in 1412. The Kalmar Union lasted for over 100 years, but would continue to make a mark on Scandinavian society for a long time to come.
Isabel, Princess Imperial of Brazil - She was heir to the throne of Brazil (with the title of Princess Imperial) during the last decades of the reign of her father Pedro II of Brazil.

Isabel was regent of the empire three times while her father traveled abroad. A liberal, the princess joined those who wanted the slavery abolished. She supported young politicians and artists, although many of them were part of the republican movement that started to be created. She used to pay with her own money so that slaves would be free.

On June 30th, 1887 Isabel was acting as regent for the third time. She then took advantage of an incident and fired the whole ministry, that was against the abolition. The road was open for the total abolition.

On Sunday, May 13th, 1888, the final voting for the total abolition was taking place. Isabel was so sure of the victory that she came down from Petropolis to wait for the results at the Imperial Palace. And then, with a golden feather, specially designed for the occasion, Isabel signed the final abolition of slavery edict (the "Lei Áurea", Golden Law, effectively banning slavery), and because of that she was nicknamed the Redeemer. On September 28th, the Pope Leo XIII awarded her with the "Golden Rose".

With a very innovative thought for her time, Isabel was a partisan of modern ideas, like the female vote and the agrarian reformation. Recently discovered documents showed that the princess thought about compensating the ex-slaves with Mauá Bank's resources.


Isabella of Castile - She was Queen regnant of Castile and Leon. She and her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, laid the foundation for the political unification of Spain under their grandson, Carlos I of Spain.

Certainly one of the most important and best known actions that Isabella was responsible for was the authorization for the expedition of Christopher Columbus. She rejected his plans three times before changing her mind. His conditions (the position of Admiral; governorship for him and his descendants of lands to be discovered; and ten percent of the profits) were met. On August 3, his expedition departed. He returned the next year and presented his findings to the monarchs, bringing natives and gold under a hero's welcome. Spain entered a Golden Age of exploration and colonization.

In 1494, by the Treaty of Tordesillas, Isabella and Ferdinand divided the Earth, outside of Europe, with Portugal. Ferdinand and Isabella were strong leaders who worked to unify Spain physically as well. This was largely achieved after the conquest of Granada in 1492.

The birth of Isabella’s son in 1478 consolidated the political stability as it meant a clear line of succession for the Spanish throne. Isabella ensured long-term political stability in Spain by arranging strategic marriages for each of her five children. Her firstborn, a daughter named Isabella, married Alfonso of Portugal, forging important ties between these two neighbouring countries and hopefully ensuring peace and future alliance. Juana (the Mad), Isabella’s second daughter, married Philip the Handsome, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and later ruled Castile with him. She was the mother of Charles V. Isabella’s first and only son, Juan, married Margaret of Austria, maintaining ties with the Habsburg dynasty. He died leaving no children. Her fourth child, Maria, married Manuel I of Portugal, strengthening the link forged by her older sister’s marriage and was the mother of John III. Her fifth child, Catherine, first married Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, and, after his death, his younger brother Henry VIII, King of England and was mother to Queen Mary I.
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Queen Boudicca - When the Romans conquered southern England, they allowed Prasutagus, King of Iceni people, continue to rule. When he died, he left the Kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Empire. Romans, unlike Britons accepted only male heirs. They used the chance to annexe the Kingdom. Boudicca united her people and led them against Romans. She successfully defeated them in many battles; however unorganized Britons were defeated in an open field. Preferring death to capture, Boudicca poisoned herself.
Emma of Normandy - Emma was twice Queen Consort of England, first by marriage to King Ethelred and then to King Canute. Two of her sons, one by each husband, and two step-sons, also by each husband, were kings of England. Canute was of very high opinion of Emma and often asked her opinion on many political issues. Both of her husbands married her not only of affection, but also in an attempt to avert the aggression of Normandy. Her marriages created the England and Normandy connection, which reached its culmination under her great-nephew William the Conqueror.
Empress Matilda - Matilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England. She married Henry V of Holy Roman Empire but he died soon. All other children of her father died in the wreck of the White Ship, leaving Matilda his only legitimate heir. Henry made Barons swear they'd accept her as a Queen. At the time Matilda was already married to Geoffrey of Anjou (nicknamed Plantagenet) and had 3 sons. However when Henry died, his nephew, Stephen of Blois usurped the throne. Years of Civil War followed. Although it eventually decided in Stephen's favour, his reign was troubled. Matilda's eldest son Henry became a successful leader and led military expedition against Stephen. This made the latter acknowledge Henry as his heir. Matilda was never crowned Queen but her son became King Henry II.
Eleanor of Aquitaine - Eleanor was the heiress of the Dukedom of Aquitaine, the largest, richest and most cultured province of France, Queen Consort of both France and England, mother of Kings Richard III and John. Her father ensured Eleanor had the best education and she was considered not only the most beautiful, but also the most educated woman of her age. Following her father's death, she married Louis VII of France. Aquitaine was not merged with the Kingdom of France; Eleanor’s eldest son was to inherit it. She took part in the second Crusade (an unprecedented move for a woman). The crusade was a disaster, both the King and Queen only managed to escape (at some point, both were actually proclaimed death). By that time the marriage reached an all-time low and upon Eleanor’s request, the Pope annulled it. To avoid kidnap attempts, Eleonor sent envoys to Henry, Duke of Normandy (later Henry II) and asked him to come and marry her. They had 8 children, and Eleanor seemed untroubled by his many adulteries; she even took care of many of his illegitimate children. Eleanor joint her sons in the revolt against their father. She was arrested and spent the next 15 years imprisoned. During Henry's final years, Eleanor enjoyed greater freedom and they seemed to be on friendly terms. After his death, their son Richard became King. He spent most of the time out of the country, in military campaigns. Eleanor was left as Regent and fulfilled the role with great efficiency. She died aged 82 and outlived all her children but two.
Marguerite of France - Three years after the death of his beloved wife Leonor, Edward I was still grieving. But he heard of the beauty of Blanche of France and decided to marry her at any cost. Philip IV of France agreed to give his sister to Edward on the condition of truce between two countries and the province of Gascony. Edward agreed but was fooled - Blanche was already engaged to Rudolph I of Bohemia. Philip offered his other sister, 11 years old Marguerite, as Edward's wife. Enraged Edward declared war on France but 5 years later he agreed to marry Marguerite. He was 60 and the bride was 16. Soon after the marriage, Edward started a campaign against Scotland and Marguerite decided to join him, which touched him greatly. Marguerite had a softening influence over the King - many escaped severe punishments due to her and the statement ‘Pardoned solely on the intercession of our dearest consort, Queen Marguerite of England’ appeared. However mismatched their union was, Edward and Marguerite were truly happy together. The King often said that his wife was a Pearl of a great price. Marguerite loved Edward so much that she decided to name their youngest daughter Leonor, in honour of his beloved first wife. After his death she refused to remarry, saying "when Edward died, all men died for me". She used her immense dowry for charity. Marguerite was one of the most beloved Queens of England and her funerals were attended by an unprecedented number of people. Her step-children all said ‘we lost a sister and dearest friend no one can replace’.
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Isabella of France – Isabella, nicknamed the She-Wolf of France, was the only daughter of Philip IV of France and married Edward II of England. Although they had 4 children, he paid more attention on his male favourites and the marriage was disastrous. When Isabella's brother seized Edward's French possessions, she returned to France, originally as a delegate. However once there, she gathered an army to oppose Edward. Many English Barons were angered by the King, and especially his favourites and it was not difficult for Isabella to overthrow Edward II without one battle; he was sent to prison and forced to abdicate in favour of his son. Since Edward III was only 14, Isabella and her lover Mortimer reigned under his name. Edward II died in prison (presumably killed). According to legend, Isabella sent a letter to guards, which, depending where the comma was inserted, could either encourage them to kill the King, or warn them against it. But no such letter is known to have existed. When Edward III became of age, he executed Mortimer for treason. Contrary to legend, Isabella didn't spend the remaining days in prison and enjoyed comfortable life. Isabella was partly responsible for the start of 100 years war - her son, Edward, was the only surviving male grandchild of King Philip IV and claimed the French Throne.
Catherine Valois - Catherine was the daughter of Charles VI of France and Isabeau of Bavaria. Upon her marriage to Henry V of England, he regained control over Aquitaine and Normandy, acted as regent during Charles VI lifetime and won the right to succeed Charles upon his death Had all the points of the treaty been fulfilled, England and France would be united under the reign of Henry VI. But Henry V died 2 years after the marriage, leaving Catherine with new-born son. She was not trusted as a Frenchwoman and was not allowed to take part in her son’s education. In fact, she was hardly ever allowed to see him. Around the time she met Owen Tudor. Although she is usually referred to as his wife, many scholars argue whether they were married (Catherine was forbidden to remarry). She was given the Wallingford castle and disappeared from the court life. Catherine and Owen had two children. Catherine died aged 36, but although she died young, she left her visible trace in history - her eldest son Henry was the King of England, her second son Edmund was the father of future Henry VII, and her third son Jasper married Katherine Woodville, Elizabeth Woodville's sister.
Elizabeth Woodville - Elizabeth was considered one of the leading beauties in England, with 'heavy-lidded eyes like those of a dragon'. She was a young widow with two sons, when King Edward IV noticed her. The King had many mistresses but Elizabeth refused to become one. The king was smitten and he secretly married her. The marriage took many by surprise but it was a happy union and by the time the King died, they had 10 children, including 2 sons. After the King’s death Prince Edward (Edward V) was proclaimed King and was transformed to the Tower with his brother Richard, to prepare for the coronation. However Elizabeth and Edward’s marriage was proclaimed unlawful, because a Bishop testified that before marrying Elizabeth, Edward IV had already promised to marry another Lady (a blinding contract at the time). Thus, all 10 children of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were proclaimed illegitimate and Edward IV's brother Richard was proclaimed a King. The Princes in the Tower were never seen again and werw believed to be dead. Elizabeth, now Dame Elizabeth Grey, and her daughters were in sanctuary, fearing for their safety. Soon however, Henry Tudor challenged and subsequently defeated Richard in the Battle of Bosworth and was proclaimed King Henry VII. His mother, Margaret Beaufort, and Elizabeth Woodville arranged the marriage of Henry and Elizabeth York (the Yorkist heir to the throne), thus cementing his rights to the throne. Elizabeth Woodville was given the title of Queen Dowager. A couple of years later she took part in the Lambert rebellion against the King. Henry confiscated all her possessions and banished her to Bermondsey Abbey. In Later Elizabeth had one more chance to become Queen Consort – Henry VII offered her to marry newly widowed King James of Scotland; the latter was, however, soon killed in a battle. Devastated Elizabeth died soon after. Her simple funerals enraged many, who didn't think it was a good tribute for the Consort of Edward IV. Elizabeth is the direct ancestor of all future Monarchs of England and Great Britain, up to this day.
Margaret Beaufort - Margaret was a key figure in the War of Roses and in the process of founding the Tudor dynasty. Through her mother's side, Margaret was decendant of John of Gaunt (3rd son of Edward III) and his mistress (following their marriage, their children were legitimized, although barred from inheriting the throne). Her fist husband was Edmund Tudor, half brother of King Henry VI (through Catherine of Valois, who married Owen Tudor after the death of Henry V). By the age of 13 she was a widow, with a new-born son, who had a lot of Royal blood, but no valid claims to the English throne. Margaret devoted greatest part of the following 20 years to bringing up and the educating her son Henry. Years later Margaret married Lord Stanley, one of the most loyal aids of King Richard, though this didn’t keep Margaret from plotting against Richard. She aided with Elizabeth Woodville and the two women planned their children's engagement. When Richard III learnt of that, he arrested Lord Stanley's eldest son and hold him as a captive, trying to ensure his loyalty. This only turned Stanley against the King. With Richard thwarted in the Battle of Bosworth, Stanley himself placed the Crown on Henry VII's head. Margaret cemented her son's rights to the throne by arranging his marriage with Elizabeth York, Yorkist claimant to the throne. She was now known as My Lady the King’s Mother. Margaret was an educated woman and wanted education for people and her later years were dedicated to this task. She founded several schools, including schools for general public. Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford University (first women's collage) was named after her, acknowledging the role she played to ensure the women can get proper education.
Catherine of Aragon – Catherine was born to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, rulers of Spain. Her marriage to Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII, was to ensure the grounds of newly-founded Tudor dynasty and ties between England and Spain. They married when both were 15. However Arthur died only 3 months laterm(Catherine always maintained their marriage was not consummated because of their young age). Not wanting to lose ties with Spain, and Catherine’s dowry, Henry VII arranged her marriage with his younger son, Henry. The young people liked each other and for the next 18 years they led a happy life. Only one thing was on the way of their happiness – lack of male heirs. Henry and Catherine had 5 children, but only one of them, Princess Mary, survived. Since the Tudor dynasty was new, a male heir was essential. The country still remembered the horrours of the civil war, when the Barons denied Empress Matilda her Throne. When it became apparent Catherine was physically unfit to conceive again, Henry requested the Pope of the annulment of the marriage. The Pope’s refusal (or rather, lack of answer) set off a chain reaction that led Henry’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, his divorce from Catherine, proclamation that Princess Mary was illegitimate and Henry’s subsequent marriage to Anne Boleyn. Henry married for 4 more times, but Catherine didn’t live to see that. She died soon before Anne Boleyn was to be executed, maintaining till the last day of her life her marriage and especially fiercely fighting over the issue of Princess Mary’s legitimacy. In her later years, Catherine lived in very poor conditions in a remote Castle and was not even allowed to see her daughter in the hope she would give up and acknowledge the annulment. Catherine died of cancer though at the time many believed that Queen Anne had poisoned her. Henry didn’t attend the funerals, nor did he allow Princess Mary to go. Catherine’s daughter did eventually become Queen, although she reigned only for 5 unhappy years.
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Anne Boleyn – Anne was from a powerful Norfolk family and spent her earlier years serving in the household of Margaret of Austria, with whom she maintained close relationships throughout her life, and later, as lady-in-waiting to Queen Claude of France. Anne differed from the typical English beauty – she had dark skin and was thin, but many were impressed by her big, dark eyes and long, dark hair. Anne was known for her intelligence and her fashion sense and was a trendsetter. When Anne returned to England, her older sister Mary was Henry’s mistress. Henry was very impressed by the younger Boleyn girl. However Henry’s initial offer to become his mistress was rejected – Anne was known for being demure, yet keeping men at arm’s length. By the time Henry was already thinking of divorce, in order to secure male heirs. His infatuation with Anne speeded the process. But only after 7 years and break with Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury divorced Henry and Catherine. Once Queen, Anne had unprecedented powers and is often called ‘the most powerful Queen Consort England ever had. During her coronation she was already visibly pregnant, but to Henry’s disappointment they had a girl. A miscarriage and still-born followed, by which time Henry was already enamored by Jane Seymour. Soon after the still-birth, Anne was accused of adultery and treason. The wish of the King was apparent for the Parliament, and Anne was convicted and executed. Her daughter, Elizabeth, was proclaimed illegitimate. It is largely accepted by scholars that Anne was not guilty of the charges. Anne might not have managed to be a Queen for a long time and she didn’t produce a son, but she gave birth to a girl that would eventually future Elizabeth I.
Queen Mary I – As the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Queen Catherine, she was cherished by her parents. When Mary was 9, her father gave her a separate court, as well as many powers and privileges, normally only given to Prince of Wales. Her childhood was also marked by matrimonial plans – Henry was negotiating a possible match with French and Spanish Royal Houses. However when Catherine failed to produce a male heir, necessary for the newly-founded Tudor dynasty, Henry started divorce process and later married Anne Boleyn. Since her parents' marriage was annuled, Mary was proclaimed illegitimate. She refused to acknowledge the divorce and had to face many difficulties. Mary's life improved after Henry married Jane Seymour, who she was close to. Mary became godmother to her half-brother Edward but when Edward became King, the relationships between the two cooled. Mary was a loyal Catholic, Edward was no-less loyal Protestant. In case he would die childless, Edward didn’t want either Mary, or Elizabeth succeed him (in contrast with Henry VIII's will). Instead, he named Jane Grey as his heir. After his death it wasn’t difficult for Mary, who had support among people and the army, to take the throne. Jane was executed and Mary became first crowed Queen of England and her first Act of Parliament was validating her parents’ marriage. Her reign, however, was not a happy or successful one. Mary’s main goal was to bring the Catholic religion back. She prosecuted and executed numerous Protestants, for which she was nicknamed ‘Bloody Mary’. Her personal life was no happier – she married her cousin, Philip II of Spain, which made her even more unpopular, since Mary usually supported him in his military campaigns, against the will of the people. Most notably, as a result of his campaign against France (which she supported), the country lost Calais, England’s last remaining continental possession. Mary didn’t have children and her half-sister, Elizabeth succeeded her to begin her glorious reign.
Queen ElizabethElizabeth’s birth was perhaps the greatest disappointment in her father’s life – he had divorced Catherine of Aragon, severed ties with Rome and married Anne Boleyn to have a boy. When Elizabeth was 2 years old, Anne was accused of adultery and treason, and was executed. Elizabeth was proclaimed a bastard and lost her place in the line of the succession. Her father married his third wife, Jane Seymour, only 9 days after Anne’s execution. Jane gave birth to Henry’s only legitimate son, Prince Edward. After Edward’s death, he was succeeded by Mary. During her reign, Elizabeth was briefly imprisoned for taking part in Wyatt uprising. However Mary, who didn’t have children of her own, released her. The sisters had cold relationships. Mary’s death and Elizabeth's accession were greeted with joy in England. Her reign was troubled at first and she faced many threats. She wasn’t considered legitimate by Rome or by canon law and statute. The question of religion was vital – Elizabeth was a Moderate protestant. She had her problems with Mary, Queen of Scots, who claimed the English Throne herself. Spanish King Philip (Mary’s husband) sent the Armada against England. The Spanish attempt was defeated by the English fleet under Lord High Admiral Charles Howard, aided by inclement weather. The victory tremendously increased Elizabeth’s popularity. Elizabeth’s rival, Mary, Queen of Scots, had her own huge problems at home and Elizabeth could be relatively safe about her, until Mary landed in England, seeking asylum. For the following 20 years imprisoned, although her prison was a comfortable palace. However, Elizabeth faced a number of revolts, which were aimed to replace her with Mary. When it became apparent Mary took part in at least one of them, Elizabeth put Mary to trial, which subsequently found her guilty and Mary was executed. Elizabeth never married, hence one of her nicknames, ‘the Virgin Queen’. It is, however, rumoured she had long-term romance with Robert Dudley, and later with his son, Earl of Essex. Elizabeth’s 45 years of reign are referred to as the Elizabethan Era or the Golden Age. She supported Art and Literature and her reign saw William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson flourished; Francis Drake became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe; Francis Bacon laid out his philosophical and political views; English colonisation of North America took place; the founding stone of England’s hegemony on Sea was laid. Elizabeth was a decisive ruler. Her favourite motto was Video Et Taceo (I see and keep silent). Elizabeth was a successful Monarch. She avoided the outbreak of religious and civil wars on English soil during her reign. She also proved to be one of the most popular Monarchs in English or British History, both during and after their lifetime and was voted the Best British Monarch ever in a recent BBC poll.
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Mary, Queen of Scots – Mary was the only daughter of King James V of Scotland and Marie de Guise. When her father learnt of her birth, he exclaimed, “The devil go with it! It came with a lass, it will pass with a lass!” He believed the birth of a girl marked the end of the Stuart dynasty. Mary’s mother arranged her engagement with Dauphin Francois, the heir of King Henry II and 5 years old girl moved to the French court. When Henry died, her husband became King. At the age of 16 she was Queen of Scotland, Queen Consort of France and heir to the English Throne. But soon Francis II died and Mary sailed back to Scotland. For a girl, raised in French court, Scotland seemed uncivilized and wild. Moreover, she was a Catholic Queen in a Protestant country. Several rebellions took place against her, but she managed to overcome them. Mary soon married Henry, Lord Darnley. The marriage was hardly a successful one though; Darnley was jealous of the Queen’s friendship with her secretary Riccio. Mary was pregnant with their first child, when Darnley killed Riccio in front of Mary. Darnley’s consecutive murder is believed to be Mary’s doing, although it was never proven. However, Mary was forced to abdicate and was imprisoned. She managed to escape to England. Elizabeth considered Mary’s claims to the English throne a serious threat, and so 18 years of confinement followed. Mary led a comfortable life however and the greatest part of the confinement was in the SheffieldCastle. Elizabeth was in a difficult situation since Mary allegedly took part in many of the plots against her but the last blow came when Mary took part in the Babington Plot. Mary denied the accusations and was spirited in her defense; however she was ultimately convicted of treason and was sentenced to beheading. Mary was not destined to become Queen of England; however her son James succeeded Elizabeth on the English Throne and thus united the English and Scottish Crowns.
Henrietta Maria of France – Born to Henry IV of France and Marie Medici, Henrietta was separated from her parents at an early age – her father was killed soon after her birth, her mother was banned from the court when she was 9. At the age of 16, she married King Charles I of England. Her Catholic upbringing turned people against her and Henrietta was highly unpopular. At first her relationships with the King were not any better, however soon the couple developed genuine love and care for each other. They had 9 children together. When the civil war approached, Henrietta took part in national affairs and was active in seeking funds and support for her husband, but her main foreign allies were Catholics sources like Pope Urban VIII, which angered English. When the conflict began, she was in France and continued to raise money for the Royalist cause there. In 1643 she returned to England and joined Royalist forces; however the collapse of the King’s position led her to flee to France with her sons. Charles’s execution in 1649 left her destitute. She spent the following years in France, only returning to England after the Restoration. Henrietta’s influence over Charles II, her Catholic faith and her efforts to convert Charles and their children to Catholicism were among key factors that contributed to the English Revolution.
Mary II – Mary was the eldest daughter of James, Duke of York (James II) and was raised in the protestant faith. She married William, Prince of Orange. Mary’s animated and personable nature made her popular with the Dutch people but the marriage itself was not the happiest one – none of their children survived. After the death of Charles II, Mary’s father became King James. He had a controversial religious policy and was viewed with great suspicion by the people. They only endured him since he would be succeeded by his Protestant daughter. Alarm amongst Protestants increased when James’s second wife gave birth to a son, who would be raised a Roman Catholic. William and Mary were secretly requested to come to England with an army. The Dutch Army didn’t even have to fight on the English soil; English Army and Navy went over to William. The Parliament offered Mary to become a sole Monarch, however loyal to her husband, she refused. The Parliament then offered William and Mary to become joint Monarchs. The Parliament passed one of the most important constitutional documents in English History, the Bill of Rights, which established restrictions on the Royal Prerogative. Mary did not wield power during most of her reign, instead ceding it to her husband. She did, however, govern the realms when William was engaged in military campaigns and proved a firm ruler. After her death William, who had grown increasingly to rely on Mary, was devastated, reportedly saying ‘from being the happiest I am now going to be the miserablest creature on Earth’.
Caroline of Ansbach – As a beautiful, intelligent and attractive woman, Caroline, the daughter of the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, was a much sought-after bride. She had a chance to become Queen of Spain, but declined the proposal, since she would have to renounce her protestant faith. Shortly afterwards, she met and married George, the son of the Elector of Hanover, who would later become heir to the British Throne. After her husband’s father accession to the throne as George I, Caroline was the most important woman in the Kingdom. Caroline played quite a big role in the political life of the country; she was a close friend of Sir Robert Walpole (Prime Minister both under George I and George II’s reigns), who would later play a crucial role in the process of reconciliation of the King and Prince of Wales. Caroline’s mind far outstripped George’s. As a young woman, she corresponded with Gottfried Leibniz. Later, she initiated the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, arguably the most important of all 18th century philosophy of physics discussion. As a Queen, Caroline held a powerful position; she was made Guardian of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and His Majesty’s Lieutenant within the same during His Majesty’s absence, this acting as a Regent, when George II was not in the country. Caroline was probably one of the most important consorts in British History, alongside Prince Albert.

Caroline of Brunswick – Caroline married Prince George, the eldest son of King George III and future King George IV but the union proved to be disastrous – both Caroline and George had immense dislike for each other and lived separately. Caroline spent most of the time in the private residence. Caroline and George’s only daughter, Princess Charlotte-Augusta, died shortly after giving birth to a still-born son. Caroline spent most of the time in her native Brunswick but went back to England after her husband’s accession to the Throne. Despite the King’s best attempts, Caroline retained a very strong popularity amongst the masses, and therefore considerable power in spite of his dislike for her. Caroline died only one day before the coronation, convinced she had been poisoned. Though she legally remained Queen Consort of the United Kingdom, she was buried in Brunswick. On her tomb, it is written “Here lays Caroline, the Injured Queen of England”.
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Queen Victoria – Alexandrina Victoria was the Queen of the Great Britain and Ireland and the first Empress of India. Her reign lasted almost 64 years, thus being the longest-serving British Monarch. Even thought Victoria was the only daughter of the fourth son of King George III, lack of heirs made her heir Presumptive during the reign of her uncle, King William. Soon after she became Queen, she proposed to her cousin, Prince Albert. The marriage was a very happy one and Prince Albert proved a great support for Victoria. The couple had 9 children. Victoria made the Parliament grant Prince Albert the title of the Prince Consort, to give him more substantial and certain role. When Prince Albert died of typhoid fever, after 21 years of happy marriage, the Queen was devastated. She entered a state of mourning and wore black for the remainder of her life. Thought at first that made her unpopular among the people, who wanted to see their Queen more often, later she became immensely popular once more. Queen Victoria’s reign marked the gradual establishment of modern constitutional Monarchy. Her monarchy became more symbolic than political; it placed a strong emphasis on morality and family values. Victoria’s reign created for Britain the concept of the ‘family monarchy’ with which the middle classes could identify. Internationally, Queen Victoria was a major figure, not just in image or in terms of Britain’s influence through the Empire, but also because of family links throughout Europe’s Royal Families, earning the affectionate nickname ‘the grandmother of Europe’. Eight of Victoria’s nine children married members of European Royal Families, and Princess Louise married Marquis of Lorne, the future Governor-General of Canada. Now, quite a few Monarchs (or former Monarchs) are descendant from Victoria – The Queen of the United Kingdom, the King of Norway, the King of Sweden, the Queen of Denmark, the King of Spain, the King of Greece and the King of Romania. Also descendants are the pretenders to the thrones of Russia, Serbia, Prussia, Germany, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Hanover, Hesse and Baden. Queen Victoria and her Era are remembered among the best times in the British History. The young girl, who learnt she may be Queen one day, certainly fulfilled her promise to her governess – ‘I will be good’.
Queen Alexandra – Alexandra was Queen Consort to Edward VII and Empress of India. She was also the longest-serving Princess of Wales (from 1863 to 1901). Even though she was not the first choice of bride for the heir to the British Throne, however Queen Victoria took great likeness in the young Princess. The marriage of Queen Alexandra and Prince Albert Edward was a happy one; the couple genuinely cared for each other and had 6 children. Even though Bertie had several mistresses (notable among them Alice Keppel), his death was a serious blow to the tender-hearted Alix, and she insisted on keeping his room and possessions exactly as he had left them. Alexandra herself remained youthful looking into her senior years, mostly thanks to elaborate veils and very heavy makeup. She was greatly loved by the British people. Queen Alexandra was associated with many charities, notable among them the Alexandra Rose Day and Queen Alexandra’s Nursing Corps (founded during the Boer War). Apart from charities, Alix enjoyed many activities, including dancing and ice-skating. Even after the birth of her first child, Prince Albert, the continued to enjoy these activities, until complications after the birth of her third child threatened her life and she was left with permanent limp.
Queen Mary – Born to the Duke of Teck, Mary was brought up and educated in England, and was more ‘English’ in many ways, then most of other members of the Royal family. Mary (or May, as she was known in her family) was engaged to Prince Albert Victor, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales. Although May was granddaughter of George III, she was considered a minor member of the British Royal Family (mainly because of her parents’ morganatic marriage). The choice of Mary as bride for the future King owed much to Queen Victoria’s fondness of her. However the Duke of Clarence died six weeks after their engagement. Despite this setback, Queen Victoria still favoured May as suitable candidate to marry the future King and considered her as possible bride for the new heir to the throne. Quite helpful was the fact that Mary and George became close to each other and were soon deeply in love. With Victoria’s blessing, George proposed and Mary accepted. Their marriage was a very happy and successful union; George wrote to May every day they were apart and never took a mistress. The couple had 6 children, but their happiness was clouded when they learnt that their youngest son, Prince John, suffered from epilepsy. Contrary to the popular belief, Mary was not a distant mother – indeed, in his memories Edward described her as a devoted mother, for who everything that happened to her children was of utmost importance. In later years, Mary wouldn’t forgive Edward for neglecting his duty in favour of personal feelings (after he abdicated to marry Wallis Simpson). Queen Mary staunchly supported her husband; she advised him on speeches, and used her extensive knowledge of history and royalty to advise him on certain matters affecting his position, efforts which George greatly appreciated. During their Silver Jubilee speech, the King paid public tribute to his wife, having told his speechwriter, ‘Put that paragraph at the very end. I cannot trust myself to speak of the Queen when I think of all I owe her’. Mary also took care of the King’s increasingly fragile health. Indeed, it was her care that (according to the King’s doctor) saved he king’s life in the late 1920s. Queen Mary was an eager collector of objects and pictures with Royal connection. She acquired jewelleries at prizes much higher then the market price, just to ensure they are not gone into strangers’ hands (due to her, jewels from the estate of Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna, Cambridge Emeralds from Lady Kilmorey and many other priceless pieces joined or were returned to the Royal Collection). Mary was sometimes criticised for her aggressive acquisition of objects for the Royal collection – on several occasions, she would express to hosts, or others, that she had admired something they had in their possession, in the expectation that the owner would be willing to donate it. Due to her extensive knowledge of, and research into, the Royal Collection, she could easily identify artefacts and artwork that had gone astray over the years (once identified, she would write to the holders with the request to return them). Queen Mary was known for setting the tone of the Royal Family as a model of regal formality and propriety. Sir Henry Channon wrote that she was ‘above politics…magnificent, humorous, worldly, in fact nearly sublime, thought cold and hard. But what a grand Queen!’
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In France

Gerberga of Saxony – Gerberga was the daughter of Henry the Fowler, King of Germany and Matilda Ringelheim, and sister of Emperor Otto the Great. Her first husband was the Duke of Lorraine, with whom she had 4 children. After his death she married Louis IV of France. Together they had 8 children. Gerberga was regarded as one of the most educated and intelligent women of her age, intelligence and political agility matched and rivaled her brother’s (he is known to seek her advice on many important issues). Her contemporaries said that ‘she acted, spoke and thought as a man’. Gerberga was a forceful political player as well. Given great powers by King Louis, she was behind his most successful decisions. And what was perhaps most important, her marriage put end to the struggle between King Louis and Emperor Otto the Great, struggle, which was in danger of developing into war.
Emma of Italy – Emma was the daughter of Lothair II of Italy and Adelaide of Burgundy (Saint Adelaide). She was the last Carolingian Queen Consort of France, mother of last Carolingian King. Emma’s father was poisoned when she was a little girl by Berengar of Ivrea, who wanted her to marry his son. She defied him however, and married Otto the Great. Their son, Emperor Otto II, became Emperor of Holy Roman Empire, King of Germany and Italy. In 965 Emma married King Lothair of France. Their only son was Louis V, the last Carolingian King of France. Emma was behind most of the King’s decision and many didn’t like such influence. King Lothair’s brother, Charles of Lorraine, accused Emma of infidelity; however the Queen was exonerated by the Synod of Sante-Macre. To ensure her son’s succession, Emma persuaded Lothair to crown him as King (co-rules). Lothair did so, but showing resistance for one of the rarest times, refused to give him real powers. After Lothair’s death, Emma hoped to maintain her influence over her son; however Louis accused his mother and Bishop Ascelin of poisoning Lothaire (which might not be far from truth). Louis didn’t arrest them though, and merely drove Emma and Ascelin from the Court. Emma survived her son and actively took part in plots against the new King. However her further fate is unknowns.
Margaret of Burgundy, Blanche of Burgundy and Jeanne II, Countess of Burgundy – the fates of these 3 sisters (Jeanne and Blanche were sisters, and Margaret was their cousin) were so interrelated, that telling of them separately might not make sense. Margaret was the first Queen Consort of King Louis X of France and Navarre, Jeanne was married to Louis’s younger brother Philip (future Philip V), and Blanche was married to Louis & Philip’s youngest brother Charles (future Charles IV). The three sisters, all beautiful and intelligent women, entered into what seemed to be glorious beginning, to see downfall and misery. Margaret and Blanche were accused of adultery, while Jeanne was accused of accomplice (she herself never committed adultery). All three of them were imprisoned. Margaret was strangled (allegedly, to allow her husband remarry for the second time). Because of her adultery, the paternity of Margaret and Louis’s only daughter was doubted and she was banned from inheriting the French throne. As her mother’s undoubted heir, however, she became Duchess of Burgundy. Ironically, she also became Queen Regnant of Navarre (thus accepting her as her father’s heir) but Louis’s brother became King of France instead. Blanche saw her husband become King Charles VI, however he refused to forgave her and she died in the prison. They never had children. Jeanne was the luckiest of the sisters – when her husband became King, he forgave her. To ensure their children would inherit the Throne (and to totally disqualify the claims of Louis and Margaret’s daughter, Jeanne of Navarre), Philip brought back the old Salic Law, which forbade women to inherit the Throne. He made further changes and made it impossible for males, descendant through female line, to inherit the Throne (this was made to avoid possible claims of Edward III, who, thought his mother Isabella, was the male-line grandson of Philip IV). But this law backfired when Jeanne and Philip’s only son died in childhood, leaving them with 3 daughters. Since Philip’s younger brother, Charles, died without male heirs as well, the senior branch of the Capetian dynasty ceased to exist.
Anne of Brittany – The daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix, Anne became the heiress and ultimately the Duchess of Brittany. She was the richest European woman, and the most sought-after bride of her time. Her marriage was an important issue, since she didn’t want the Brittany be annexed by France. Thus, she looked for a suitable husband, who would be able to defend Brittany. Edward, the Prince of Wales (the son of Edward IV) seemed suitable candidate but he disappeared and was believed to be dead after Edward IV’s death. The next candidate was Maximilian of Habsburg. Anne married him in Rennes by proxy and became Queen of Romans. But this was considered a provocation by the French – it violation the Treaty of Verger and placed the rule of Brittany in the hands of the enemy of France. Charles VIII of France gathered an army and moved to Rennes, where Anne was. Her husband failed to come to her aid and Rennes fell. Anne was forced to marry Charles. Austria’s protests that Anne couldn’t marry Charles, since she was already legally married to Maximilian, and that Charles was legally engaged to Margaret of Austria (Maximilian’s daughter) didn’t have results; the Pope validated the marriage. The marriage contact provided that the spouse that will outlive the other, will retain the possession of Brittany; however it was also agreed that if Charles died without male heirs, Anne would have to marry his successor (to ensure the second chance to annex Brittany). Charles was desperate to have male heirs, so most of her married life Anne was pregnant. She didn’t exercise any powers and when Charles was not in the country his sister, Anne of France, was the Regent, and not the Queen. All four children from the marriage didn’t survive early childhood. When Charles VIII dies, Anne was 21 years old childless widow. She was now required to marry the new King, Louis XII, but he was already married. But Louis’ first marriage was dissolved by the Pope and she was forced to marry him. Before the annulment and her third marriage, Anne visited her native Brittany. She proved to be a skillful leader. She was immensely popular in Brittany and her vassals, as well as the people, received her sumptuously. Forced to return to France and marry Louis, she made sure her rights as Sovereign Duchess were recognized. Although Louis exercised the ruler’s powers in Brittany, he accepted the title of Duke Consort, formally recognizing her right to the title Duchess of Brittany. Anne fiercely fought for the independence of her Duchy. She arranged the marriage of her daughter, Claude, to Charles of Luxembourg. When it became apparent Anne would not produce more children, Louis didn’t validate the marriage and instead arranged Claude’s marriage with the heir to the French Throne, Francis of Angouleme. In turn, Anne refused to sanction the marriage until her death. She wanted either Claude marry Charles of Luxembourg, or her other daughter Renee inherit the Duchy. Anne dies soon after, enormously mourned by the people of Brittany and France. Her funerals lasted 40 days and were marked by unprecedented grief among the common people. Anne was a highly intelligent woman, who spent much of her time of the administration of Brittany. She made the safeguarding of Breton autonomy and the preservation of the Duchy outside the French Crown, her life's work. Although she failed to achieve her goal (Claude was forced to marry Francis and Brittany was annexed with France), Anne remains one of Brittany’s most renowned historical figures, second perhaps only to Saint Yves. Many people maintain that the History of Brittany started and ended with Anne of Brittany, woman, who was married three times, twice to Kings of France.
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Isabeau of Bavaria – Isabeau was the daughter of Stephen III of Bavaria-Ingolstadt. At the age of 15 she married King Charles VI of France. Although happy at the beginning, this changed to misery after the King showed a sign of what is now believed was schizophrenia. She assumes the role of the Regent with unusually powerful role in the government to fill the gap left by her husband’s insanity. Henry V of England took advantage of French internal strife and invaded the northwest of France. The Duke of Burgundy was still feuding with the Queen and remained neutral as Henry conquered more and more towns. With most of northwest France under English control, Isabeau was forced to agree to the Treaty of Troyes, which arranged the marriage of her daughter Catherine to Henry V, stipulated that after Charles’ death, Henry and his successors would inherit the French throne (this Treaty had no effect on the French succession as Isabeau’s son, Charles VII, pronounced the Treaty illegal, but the marriage did have effect on English line, since Catherine’s second marriage to Owen Tudor resulted in the eventual establishment of the Tudor dynasty). Both Charles VI and Henry V died within two months of each other. Charles VII assumed leadership of the French party. Isabeau and her son didn’t have particularly warm relationships and after Charles VI’s death Isabeau moved to English-controlled territory and exerted no further influence over public affairs. She was much hated in her time. A popular saying was that France had been lost by a woman (Isabeau) and would be recovered by a girl (many later took this to be prediction of Joan of Arc). In fairness to her, it must be noted that her leadership confronted double prejudice as a woman and a foreigner. In other times, she might have been a successful ruler. She was a Patron of Arts, aided the time’s most significant French author Christine de Pizan.
Marguerite of Navarre – Marguerite is considered one of the most outstanding figures of the French Renaissance. Samuel Putnam called her ‘The First Modern Woman’. Marguerite was the daughter of Charles of Orleans and Louise of Savoy. Marguerite’s brother later became Francis I of France. Her parents made sure Marguerite received the best education. But soon the young, bright and beautiful girl was then forced to marry Charles IV of Alencon. Her husband was kind, but much older and completely illiterate. They had friendly relationships nevertheless. After his death Marguerite married Henry II of Navarre. They had two children – daughter Jeanne (who would later become mother of Henry IV) and a boy, Jean, who died on the day of his birth. The grief made Marguerite write her most controversial work, Miroir de l’ame pecheresse. Sorbonne theologians condemned the work as heresy. They even said that marguerite should be put in a sack and thrown into the Seine and called her ‘a fury from Hell’, but her brother managed to cool things. When Francis acceded to the Crown as Francis I, Marguerite became the most influential woman in France. Her salon was known as ‘New Parnassus’. Pierre Brantone wrote ‘She was a great Princess. But in addition, she was very king, gentle, gracious, charitable, a great dispenser of alms and friendly to all’. Erasmus wrote ‘For a long time I have cherished all the many excellent gifts that God bestowed upon you, prudence worthy of a philosopher, chastity, moderation, piety, an invincible strength of soul, and a marvelous contempt for all the varieties of this world. Who could keep from admiring, in a great King’s sister, such qualities as these, so rare even among the priests and monks?’ As a Patron of Arts, Marguerite befriended and protected many artists and writers. She was a mediator between Catholics and Protestants and it was due to her Francis didn’t go ahead with his intolerant measures against the Reformers (after her death, 6 Catholic Wars occurred). Historian Will Durant wrote: ‘In Marguerite was the Renaissance and the Reformation were for a moment one. Her influence radiated throughout France. Every free spirit looked upon her as protector and ideal… Marguerite was the embodiment of charity. She would walk unescorted in the streets of Navarre, allowing anyone to approach her and would listen at first hand to the sorrows of the people. She called herself ‘The Prime Minister of the Poor’. Henry, her husband, believed in what she was ding, even to the extent of setting up a public woks system that became a model for France. Together he and marguerite financed the education of the needy students‘. Jules Michelet wrote ‘Let us always remember this tender Queen of Navarre, in whose arms our people, fleeing from prison or the pyre, found safety, honour, and friendship. Our gratitude to you, Mother of our Renaissance! Your heart was that of our saints your heart the nest of our freedom.’ Pierre Bayle write ‘For a Queen to grant her protection to people persecuted for opinions, which she believes to be false; to open a sanctuary to them, to preserve them from the flames prepared for them, to furnish them with subsistence, liberally to relieve the troubles and inconveniences of their exile, is an heroic magnanimity, which has hardly any precedent…’ Marguerite was also a great diplomat, knowing all of its secrets. This, combined with her great love for her brother, led to her most remarkable adventure – freeing her brother, King Francis, captured in the Battle of Pavia. In a critical period of the negotiations, marguerite rode horseback twelve hours a day, for many days, through wintery woods, to meet a safe-conduct deadline (many of the men with her didn’t manage the journey). Her death was marked by grief and sorrow not only in France, but throughout the Europe.
Catherine de’ Medici – Catherine was born in Florence to Lorenzo II de’ Medici and Madeline, Countess of Boulogne. Two of her uncles were Popes of Rome, and naturally the Medici family gained political weight. Pope Leo created her Duchess of Urbino and started making plans for her future marriage. Despite her considerable wealth and political power of her family, Catherine was a commoner and a Duchess without Duchy. That’s why when the King of France offered to marry Catherine with his second son Henry, the new Pope Clement (also Catherine’s uncle) jumped at the proposal. Catherine married Henry at the age of fourteen, but her political value soon minimized when Pope Clement died. When King Francis I’s eldest son died, Henry became the heir and Catherine became the dauphine. Although Henry and Catherine had 10 children (first born 11 years after the marriage), their marriage was not a happy one. Throughout his life and reign he excluded Catherine from influence and instead showered favours on his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. This changed after Henry’s unexpected death from a jousting injury and Catherine found herself thrust into the political area as the Queen Mother of the frail 15 year old King Francis II. After Francis’s death next year Catherine was appointed regent to her 10-years-old son Charles IX and granted sweeping powers. Catherine proved a tireless and resilient defender of the Crown and its interest, but her three weak sons had misfortune to reign during an age of almost constant civil and religious war in France. At first Catherine sought compromise through limited concessions to the Huguenots, but she failed to grasp the theological issues underpinning their movement, for which no concession short of freedom of worship would be enough. Later, Catherine abandoned conciliation and restored to hard-line policies towards religious rebels. During this time she organized the marriage of her daughter, Marguerite Valois with King Henry of Navarre, one of the leaders of the Huguenots. Thousands of them poured into Paris, to celebrate the wedding of. 6 days later the St. Bartholomew’s Night massacre accrued; thousands of Huguenots were butchered in Paris and throughout France (Henry was forced to convert to Catholicism). Catherine was personally blamed for the Massacre. Her son, Charles IX, died soon after and was succeeded by his brother, Henry III, Catherine’s favourite. She remained influential all through his reign. Henry died childless and the Valois dynasty died out. One of the most hated people for Catherine, Henry of Navarre (Marguerite’s husband) became Henry IV. She didn’t live to see that though, as she died a year before her son Henry. Among the 10 children Catherine gave to France, were 3 Kings of France (Francis II, Charles IX, Henry III), Queen of Spain (Princess Elizabeth married King Philip II of Spain), her daughter Marguerite became Queen of France and Navarre and her eldest son Francis was married to Mary, Queen of Scots.
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Marguerite of Valois– Marguerite was the daughter, sister and wife of French Kings. She was born to Henry II of France and Catherine de’ Medici. Marguerite’s marriage to the leader of Huguenots, King Henry of Navarre, was to establish harmony in the Kingdom and between the Catholics and Huguenots. The harmony lasted only few days – 6 days after the wedding took place the massacre of St. Bartholomew’s night occurred, when thousands of Huguenots across Paris and France were slaughtered. Marguerite’s husband had to convert to Catholicism. After more then 3 years of confinement at court, Henry escaped to Navarre, leaving his wife behind. Marguerite, a virtual prisoner in her own home, managed to flee to Navarre only years later. The reunion of Henry and Margot was quite icy – they led scandalous life in Pay and both openly kept lovers. Marguerite, eager to gain some weight in her Kingdom, seized power over the city of Agen. When Agen’s citizen’s revolted against her, she fled to the castle of Carlat, where she was basically imprisoned by Henry III in the castle of Usson, where she spent next 18 years. During this time negotiations began to dissolve her marriage to Henry IV, but it took another 7 years for the annulment to be granted. Margot retained the titles of Queen of Navarre and France (as by the time of the divorce, Henry was already King of France. During the time Marguerite wrote her memoirs, which were published after her death. These writings highlighted the reigns of her brothers, Charles IX and Henry III, and of her former husband, Henry IV. The memoirs were of rather scandalous nature. Marguerite returned to Paris after Henry was already married to Marie de’ Medici. She reconciled with Henry and became friendly with Marie; often she nurtured Henry and Marie’s children, who called her ‘Aunt Margot’ (not far from truth, since Marie was her cousin). Marguerite was considered one of the most beautiful women of her time. She was also very intelligent, knew several languages and often foreign philosophers visited France just for the opportunity to talk to her. She was also mentor of Arts and benefactor of the poor. Despite her rather scandalous lifestyle, she was immensely popular among the people. When she died, tens of thousands poured into Paris, to mourn the death of this beloved Queen and the last of the Valois dynasty.
Anne of Austria – Anne married Louis by proxy when she was 10. At the same day her brother, Infante Philip, married Princess Elizabeth, Louis’s sister. Both matches were political and were intended to strengthen ties between Spain and France. Anne moved to France when she was 14, but the married started badly. Anne was totally ignored in the court, the King didn’t pay much attention to her and Marie Medici continued to carry herself as Queen of France. It didn’t help that Anne ignored the French way of life and continued to live as a Spaniard. The relationships between the Queen and the King continued to be cool. The Duke de Luynes attempted to make things better, and for some time it worked, however when the Queen miscarried while playing a game, they became distant once again. During the same time Anne become involved in political games, which earned her a powerful enemy in the face of Cardinal Richelieu. Anne and Louis remained childless for 14 years. Their first son, Dauphin Louis, was born at a particularly stormy time, when France was engaged in war with Spain. The birth of their second a year later didn’t improve the relationships. Louis wanted to limit Anne’s powers, should she eventually became a regent for their infant sons and in his will, and he left very few rights to Anne. However, after his death Anne proclaimed herself regent and made the Parliament break the will of the late King. It was expected that Anne herself would be the power behind the Crown, but instead she entrusted the Government to Cardinal Mazarin (her rumoured lover, and by some accounts, even her possible husband). With Mazarin’s support, Anne overcome the revolt of the Aristocrats, known as the Fronde. Anne was regent until her son, Louis XIV came of age. However even after that she continued to hold considerable political weight. Many scholars view Anne as brilliant and cunning, but most people continue to remember her from Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Three Musketeers.
Marie Antoinette – Antoinette was the youngest and favourite daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Emperor Francis I of Holy Roman Empire. Marie Theresa designed the best match for her favourite daughter and Antoinette married the heir to the French throne. She was Austrian, and therefore hated as all previous Austrian Queens before her. Young and carefree, unable to have normal family at the time (because of Louis’ physical problems), she wanted to enjoy life, and so she did – playing in a theatre, enjoying games of cards (and sometimes leaving with huge debts), building Little Trianon (a model of a village, although because of its grand style and all comforts, it could have hardly been considered a peasant’s house). This made her even more unpopular: people said she was playing a ‘shepherdess’ when the real peasants lived in hard conditions. She was criticized for her extravagant and expensive cloths, but when she posed for a portrait in a modest and simple dress, she was criticized for ‘humiliating’ the Monarchy. Many things were attributed to her – starting from the famous ‘Let them eat cake’ phrase, which she was supposed to have said (although she never did in reality) when she learn poor people had no bread to eat, and ending with the famous Affair of the Necklace (in which she had no part). All this tarnished her reputation, and whatever she did, people continued to hate her. But in reality, Antoinette had changed a lot since the days of her arrival. Motherhood changed her completely, with the birth of her daughter, Marie-Therese-Charlotte (Madame Royal), Louis-Joseph, Louis-Charles and the short-lived Sophie-Beatrix. She was a devoted mother and wife. Antoinette and Louis shared a very tender, warm feeling and genuinely cared for each other (Antoinette’s enemies blamed her for having an affair with Axel von Fersen, but many considered the claim unfounded). With the French Revolution approaching, she found more comfort in her family. But she was also a decisive Queen. Even her enemies were impressed by her courage and dignity and her ‘manly’ behavior. Antoinette was horrified when the Civil Constitution of the Clergy abandoned the old practices of the Catholic Church. Upon hearing this, the Queen whispered ‘The Church. The Church. We are the next’. The King and Queen decided to flee to Montmedy, the Royalist stronghold in the east of France, but on they way the King’s head was recognized on a coin, and they were forced to return. Their attempted escape enraged the mob, they attacked Tuileries but the Royal Family managed to escape. Soon the Monarchy was abolished and Louis was sentenced to death. After Louis’ death the family was separated – Antoinette, her children and Princess Elizabeth (Louis’ sister) were all at different prisons. All of them were treated badly. Antoinette never truly recovered from her husband’s death. According to her daughter, she lost will to live. When Antoinette was herself sentenced to death, it was almost a relief for her. She wrote a letter to Elizabeth, expressing her love for her and for her children (Elizabeth would soon be executed herself). On October 16, 1793 Marie Antoinette was executed. Before the execution, the priest who accompanied her whispered ‘This is the moment, Madame, to arm yourself with courage’, to which Marie Antoinette replied with a smile ‘Courage? The moment when my troubles are going to end is not the moment when my courage is going to fail me’. Legend states her last words were, ‘Pardonnez-moi, monsieur,’ after she had accidentally stepped on the executioner’s foot. Marie Antoinette’s head was exhibited to a cheering crowd; her body was buried in a mass grave. Her son, Dauphin Louis, died in prison. Her daughter, Marie Therese, was later ransomed by Austria and by marrying her cousin, she was even Queen of France for a very short time. Marie Antoinette had undoubtedly made her mistakes, but she hardly deserved her fate. Certainly they weren’t worse then most of previous Kings and Queens. Both had progressive ideas when it came to human rights (both had welcomed the American Revolution), cared for poor people. Both were probably victims of the time they were born in.
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Sophia Alekseyevna – Sophia was the eldest daughter of Peter I the Great. After the death of her full brother Fyodor, Sophia unexpectedly entered Russian politics. She had received an excellent education, was clever and equally ambitious. Although she was appointed a Regent for her two minor half-brothers, Ivan and Peter (co-rulers) and exercised all the powers and prerogative of a Tsar, she wanted the throne for herself. Sophia organized several rebellions, but they were unsuccessful, mainly because the Boyars thought a woman would be a poor Monarch. After one of the uprisings, Sophia was sent to a Monastery, where she lived till the end of her days. During the years of her regency, Sophia has proved to be a capable ruler and an able politics, but she had the misfortune to be born a woman.
Elizabeth I of Russia – The second daughter of Peter the Great and his mistress, Elizabeth was legitimized when her parents later married. She was a bright child, fluent in 5 languages and gifted in politics. After the death of her father, his niece, Anna Ivanovna, was made an Empress. Elizabeth was practically invisible during the time. When Anna died, she named her nephew, one-year-old Ivan, as an heir and his mother, Anna Leopoldovna (Anna’s sister Catherine’s daughter) as Regent; the latter was hugely unpopular and Elizabeth used her chance. Anna and her children were arrested and Elizabeth was proclaimed Empress. Elizabeth proved a capable ruler, reigning with the energy and agility of her father. Elizabeth took her country into the War for Austrian Succession and The Seven Years War; in both cases her only concern was to gain the best for the Russian interests. In general, her greatness as a stateswoman consisted in her steady appreciation of Russian interests, and her determination to promote them at all hazards. Elizabeth supported Lomonosov’s establishment of the University of Moscow, the foundation of the Academy of Arts. The magnificent WinterMonument and the Smolny Cathedral remain the chief monuments of her reign. Elizabeth is generally considered one of the best-loved Russian Monarchs, mainly for steadily promoting Russian interests, for not allowing the Germans interfere in Russian politics and for not executing a single man under her reign.
Catherine II (the Great) of Russia – Catherine’s marriage with the heir presumptive to the Russian throne was largely due to romantic reminisces – Empress Elizabeth once planed to marry Catherine’s uncle (who died shortly after their engagement), and even though Elizabeth didn’t stand Catherine’s mother, she viewed favorably the young princess and organized her marriage with Grand Duke Peter. Catherine did everything to be ‘worth of wearing the Crown’ – soon after coming to Russia, she mastered the language, made sure she stayed in touch with all going of her new country and converted to Orthodox Church. Her marriage with Peter was far less successful – he had a mistress and it is widely assumed their marriage was consummated only 13 years later. After the death of Empress Elizabeth, Peter succeeded the Throne as Peter III of Russia. His eccentricities and unpopular politics, combined with the popularity of his wife, led to Army’s revolt. The army proclaimed Catherine new Empress (there was a previous precedent, when Peter the Great’s wife became Empress Catherine I). Several days after Peter’s deposition, he was assassinated. Although the popular legend states Catherine has ordered his murder, most historians agree she played no part in it. Catherine was an able and decisive Ruler, but she also knew how to choose the best people for each job – throughout her reign she relied on Potemkin, Panin and Poniatowski (whom she later made the King of Poland) – all her former lovers. Catherine extended Russian borders (for approximately 200.000 square miles), mostly in expense of the Ottoman Empire. Catherine made Russia the dominant power in Eastern Europe after her Russo-Turkish Wars, when Turkey suffered some of its worst defeats. Catherine played the role of mediator in the international scene, most notably during the War of the Bavarian Succession. Catherine did at first embrace the Enlightenment, she was in contact with many prominent men of the time, including Voltaire and Diderot, even though she became much less favorable after the French Revolution. Catherine was one of the first Rulers, who showed tolerance for religious differences and promoted tolerance, gave protection to the national minorities. She was also considered patron of arts, literature and education. The hermitageMuseum started as her personal collection. She helped expanding the Imperial Public Library, founded the Free Economic Society, successfully lured many leading scientist of the time to Russia. The minor German Princess became one of Russia’s longest-serving, most famous and influential Rulers ever.
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Margaret of Habsburg – Margaret was the daughter of Maximilian I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and Mary of Burgundy. At the age of 3 she was betrothed to the Dauphine of France (later Charles VIII) but Charles neglected the engagement to marry Anne of Brittany (who was engaged to Margaret’s father). At the age of 17, she married Juan, Prince of Asturias, the heir of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, rulers of Spain. Juan died 6 months after the wedding, leaving her pregnant. She gave birth to a stillborn child. At the age of 21 she married the Duke of Savoy, who died three years later. By this time Margaret had already shown huge intelligence and understanding of politics, and she was appointed Governor of the Habsburg Netherlands and guardian of her young nephew Charles (future Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire). During this time Margaret acted as intermediary between her father and his subjects in the Netherlands. The people of the Netherlands trusted her as they had never trusted any Habsburg. Margaret also negotiated a treaty of commerce with England, favourable to the Flemish interests, played a major role in the formation of the League of Cambrai. When he nephew Charles came of age, he briefly rebelled against her influence, but he soon recognized her as one of his wisest advisors, and appointed her the Governor of the Netherlands again, and she served in the position until her death. Her reign was a period of peace and prosperity for the Netherlands and she is remembered as one of the best Habsburg Rulers of the Netherlands.
Maria Theresa of AustriaMarie Theresa was the Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Bohemia and Hungary, Empress of Austria. Marie Theresa was the oldest daughter of Emperor Charles VI. Since Charles had no male heirs, he issued the Pragmatic Sanction, which guaranteed his daughter the right to succeed him. Although most of the European Monarchs agreed to the Sanction, Frederick the Great of Prussia did not, and soon after Maria Theresa assumed the throne, he began the War of Austrian Succession and seized some of the Austrian lands. To regain the lands, Marie Theresa focused her internal and external policies. Thing were not better elsewhere – Maria Theresa’s father had not given her any information on the workings of the government, leaving her to learn the job on her own, with the weak army and empty treasury. Maria Theresa was defeated in the First and second Silesian Wars by France. She increased the size of the army by 200% and increased taxes to guarantee a steady income. She centralized the government by combining the Austrian and Bohemian chancelleries. These reforms strengthened the economy and the state in general. With stronger army, Maria Theresa hoped to regain the territories seized by Frederick. When he invaded Saxony, an ally of Austria, she used the chance and declared the war. The war ended when Maria Theresa signed the Treaty of Hubertusburg, which recognized Prussian ownership of most of Silesia, but returned other lands. Soon after a personal tragedy followed – Maria Theresa’s husband, Emperor Francis, died. She had 16 children with Francis, including Joseph II, Leopold II and Marie Antoinette. Maria Theresa loved her husband deeply and dressed in mourning clothes until her own death. Another tragedy followed, when smallpox claimed several victims in her family. Maria Theresa was infected but survived. This made her a strong supporter of inoculation and she set a strong example by requiring all of her children to be included. Maria Theresa was preoccupied with internal affairs at the time: She outlawed witch-burning and torture, capital punishment was replaced with forced labor, mandatory education was introduced, a decency policy was to patrol everywhere. Several years later, Maria Theresa died. She was the only female ruler during the 650-year-long Habsburg dynasty. Maria Theresa was a very strong wiled woman and a very influential leader. She helped initiate financial and educational reforms, promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganized the army, all of which strengthened Austria’s resources. A key figure in the power politics of the 18th century Europe, Maria Theresa brought unity to the Habsburg Monarchy and was considered one of its most capable rulers ever.
Elizabeth of AustriaElizabeth’s mother hoped Emperor Franz-Joseph would marry her elder daughter, Helena, but instead fell in love with Elizabeth and proposed, in spite of the objections of his mother. Elizabeth had difficulty adapting to the strict etiquette practiced at the court. Nevertheless the couple had 3 children: Sophie, Gisela and the much hoped-for Crown Prince Rudolf. A decade later another girl, Marie Valerie was born. Elizabeth took little part in the up-bringing of her children and their relationships were never close. Her marriage with Franz started to deteriorate and to ease her pain and illnesses, Elizabeth embarked on a life of travel. She became known for her beauty, but also for her fashion sense, passion for riding sports and diet and exercise regimes, enforced to maintain her 20-inch waistline and reduced her to what is now believed to be anorexia. Elizabeth returned to her country only for a brief time, when the Hungarian rebellion led to the foundation of the Austro-Hungarian double Monarchy. Elizabeth loved Hungary far more than Austria and surrounded herself with Hungarian ladies-in-waiting. She insisted that attendants speak Hungarian, which she herself spoke fluently. Her attachment to Hungary benefited the Empire because the Hungarian people returned the feeling: they considered her the only Habsburg they trusted. Elizabeth was glad to join Franz Joseph for their coronation as Austro-Hungarian Monarchs. Marie Valerie was born at the time. But soon she took up to her former life of restless traveling again. But Elizabeth’s life was shattered by the tragic death of her only son: Crown Prince Rudolf and his lover Baroness Mary Vetsera were found dead, apparently as a result of a suicide. After Rudolf’s death, the Empress continued to be a myth, a sensation wherever she went. A long black gown, a white parasol and a brown fan became the trademarks of the legendary Empress of Austria. Although she rarely met her husband at the time, their correspondence increased and they developed warm and friendly relationships. Her traveling routs expanded and she visited places were few Monarchs had previously visited, including Malta, Turkey and Egypt. Traveling had become the sense of her life but also an escape from herself. On September 10, 1989Elizabeth was stabbed with a needle file by a young anarchist and died from a puncture wound to the heart. Her assassin didn’t know or care who he had killed. As he said afterwards, ‘I wanted to kill a Royal. It didn’t matter which one’. While Elizabeth’s role and influence on Austro-Hungarian politics should not be overestimated, she had undoubtedly become a 20th century icon: she was considered to be a free spirit, who abhorred conventional court protocol. She has inspired filmmakers and theatrical producers alike.
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The Administrators (Elspeth, Ennyllorac, Mandy, Norwegianne & Warren) would like to welcome Avalon as the sixth member of the administrative team here at TRF.

Other changes in the moderating team includes Empress changing from moderator status to supermoderator.


There have been some glitches around the server change, which has unfortunately resulted in some down-time. Andy is aware of it, and is working on the matter.

Final notes:
Thanks to Anna_R for helping out with some of the profiles.

The birthdates, as well as the wedding anniversaries, in the newsletters have been retrieved from the site calendar. If you think we're missing something - why not add it there as well, so you're confident we'll remember it next year. :flowers:

If there's something you think we should feature in the newsletter - PM Zonk, Norwegianne or Avalon with the details.
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