Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court by Stefano Papi

As you can probably tell, I love royal jewelry and royal history. And I feed my passion by reading as much as I can on these subjects. One of my favorite books on royal jewelry is Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court (2nd edition) by Stefano Papi. The book is not just about royal jewelry, it’s also a Romanov history of sorts. 

I can’t rave enough about this book and have read every single word, more than once. Papi manages to tell a mesmerizing story with each jewel (this is the book where I first learned about the Vladimir Tiara and its fascinating origin story). This hefty tome is truly a treat. It’s not just an index of Romanov jewels and their whereabouts, but a history of the last Romanov family. 

The coffee-table book is divided in six sections. Papi begins with the story of the last tsar and his tight-knit family, then introduces you to the various family relations. The book ends with the tragic downfall of the last tsar and the dispersal of the royal jewelry.

There are plenty of images to bring the stories to life: photographs of the family and their sumptuous jewels, image reproductions and drawings. Each jewel has its own story to tell and Papi tells it magnificently. 

The only downside to this book? The cost. The list price is a hefty $75.00. However, last I checked Amazon had copies for approximately $60.00 or you may even be able to buy a less expensive used copy elsewhere. But don’t forget to check if your library has a copy for you to borrow. I still borrow many of my jewelry history books from the library. 

If you are interested in the Romanovs and their jewelry, I highly recommend this book. If you’ve already read it, please let me know your thoughts.

(This article is also posted at my other blog, The Royal Archivist.)

Pairing books with tea (A Most English Princess)

A Most English Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Daughter by Clare McHugh is about the life of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria (Vicky). When she was 17, she married Frederick (Friedrich or Fritz), the Crown Prince of Prussia. Their first child was Kaiser Wilhelm II. As far as dynastic marriages go, Vicky and Fritz shared a very happy and fulfilling marriage. A rarity in their era, they remained very much in love and committed to one another. The story takes you from Vicky’s childhood in England to married life in Prussia. It’s a fictionalized account but the author’s research shines through every conversation.

Wikimedia Commons. Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia painted by Oskar Begas, 1867.

Unfortunately their marriage was marred by hardship. First, their first born, Wilhelm, was a difficult child and grew into an obstinate, unkind adult who hated his “English mother.” On top of that, Bismarck never trusted Frederick and Vicky; they were too liberal and open-minded. For example, Frederick and Vicky believed in a free press. Bismarck did not. So Bismarck successfully convinced the Emperor not to allow the Crown Prince Couple to have any say in policy. Lastly, by the time Frederick took the throne as Frederick III, he was already terminally ill with cancer. He died just 99 days later. Kaiser Wilhelm II came to power and we all know how that went and where it led. (Though I should note that the book does not end with Frederick’s death. It ends much earlier and on a good note.)

Wikimedia Commons. Frederick in 1874, painted by Heinrich von Angeli.

The year 1888 is known as the Year of the Three Emperors (Wilhelm I, Frederick III, Wilhelm II). And it’s easy to remember the year because just think of the three eights as the three emperors.

A Most English Princess is very well written and entertaining. I could not put it down. The history was accurate. Every character has both flaws and positive traits, which made me sympathize with and better understand the various historical characters. All this to say that if you enjoy royal history, British history or Prussian history, I highly recommend this book.

Wikimedia Commons. Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia, painted by Franz Winterhalter, 1867.

Now on to our question of the day. Which tea should we pair with this novel? Well, in honor of Vicky, I’m pairing it with a fine English tea called Albion, which is the ancient name for England. I think Vicky would approve!

xoxo, Jane

PS. If royal history is your thing, I write about it here.

Podcasts for Royal History Lovers

Via Wikimedia Commons. Empress Joséphine in her coronation regalia painted by François Gérard, 1807-1808.

If you like reading about royal history, then you may enjoy listening to podcasts about royals. There are a number of excellent podcasts I subscribe to that I think you might find of interest.

The Exploress Podcast is incredibly well-researched and a fun way to learn about ancient historical women. The recreations of historical dialogue are entertaining and a must-listen. Though there are many episodes on historic noble women, some of the women featured are commoners. It’s still an entertaining resource and I highly recommend the outstanding four-part series on Cleopatra. Plus, the website has a page devoted to book recommendations. Enjoy!

Noble Blood is a podcast about the footnotes of royal men and women; the stories we don’t learn in school. It’s well-researched and told in a narrative style, as if a good friend is sitting near you and whispering a gossipy tale. The episodes are about tyrannical royals, murdered royals and tragic princesses. Very entertaining. I can’t recommend it enough.

The History Chicks is run by two very good friends who enjoy talking about historical women. They began the podcast ten years ago because they couldn’t find any podcasts devoted entirely to women. Though a good number of royals are featured, they are not the main focus of this podcast. However, it’s worth perusing their catalog since it features many episodes of interest to royal history fans. I recommend their episodes on Gilded Age HeiressesCatherine the Great and Empress Sisi of Austria

The Art of Monarchy is no longer updated, but the past episodes about decorative arts of The Royal Collection are a must-listen for royal history lovers.

Last but not least, if you enjoy royal fashion, then you may enjoy listening to Dressed. The two hosts are experts in fashion and textiles and are a joy to listen to. Their well-researched episodes feature everything from the history of haute couture to Oscars fashion and feature a good amount of interviews with experts.

xoxo, Jane

(This article is also posted at my other blog, The Royal Archivist.)

Introducing The Royal Archivist

Hello, friends! I have some exciting news. You may not be aware, but I’m a serious lover of all things royal jewels and royal history. So I’ve decided that 2021 is the year I do something about it. I launched The Royal Archivist!! It’s where I write about the history of royal jewels and royal women. If you are interested in royal history, do take a look (or tell all of your friends and their friends to stop by). Thank you for the love and support!

xoxo, Jane

PS. I’ll continue to blog about the books I read, since reading and talking about books brings me joy. And I’m still working on my book series. I hope that 2021 is bright and hopeful for all of us.

Pairing books with tea (To Marry an English Lord)

It’s been a while since we’ve had a book and tea pairing so today we are pairing a good cup of tea with one of my all-time favorite books, To Marry an English Lord.

To Marry an English Lord is about the American women who “swapped dollars for titles” by marrying titled British men and moving to the UK. This book was an inspiration for Downton Abbey (Cora is a dollar princess). With meticulous research, Gail MacColl and Carol Mcd. Wallace write in great detail about the women, the men they married and loved (or didn’t love) and the grand houses they lived in. They also give lots and lots of gossipy anecdotes. It’s a fun book that includes plenty of illustrations and a handy directory of the American heiresses. I love a well-researched book about women from history.

When it came time to pair a cup of tea with this book, I had to pick Fortnum’s Albion, a strong black brew. Albion, the ancient name for Britain, makes a perfect pairing. What do you think?

xoxo, Jane

Trinket Tuesday: The Fife Diamond Tiara

I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the holiday season. It’s my favorite time of year. I love everything about Christmas! The decor, the sparkles, the festivities, the music, the food, the romantic holiday tv movies…I could go on and on.  Speaking of sparkles…

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The Fife Diamond Tiara at Kensington Palace

Today’s trinket is another tiara, the Fife Diamond Tiara made in 1887. It was given to Princess Louise on her wedding day by her husband, the Duke of Fife. Princess Louise was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

All husbands should buy their spouses diamond tiaras! {I hope my husband is reading this post.}

Trinket Tuesday is where I share some of the lovely things I discover during my travels, research or around town. All pictures are my own (unless I state otherwise). I hope you enjoy!

Trinket Tuesday: Necklace and earrings of the Empress Marie-Louise

For today’s trinket we travel back to the Louvre to admire the necklace and earrings of the Empress Marie-Louise.

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This emerald and diamond necklace and matching earrings also included a comb and a tiara, but the tiara is now at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Sadly, the tiara no longer matches the necklace and earrings because, somewhere along the way, someone swapped out the emeralds for turquoise stones. As for the comb, according to the Louvre, “it was transformed.” I think that means that the comb doesn’t exist in its original state and the emeralds from the comb may be lost to history.

This parure* was a gift from Napoleon to his second wife, Marie-Louise, on the occasion of their marriage in 1810. According to the Louvre, the necklace comprises of 32 emeralds, 874 brilliants, and 264 rose diamonds. The Louvre acquired this set in 2004.

Links for your enjoyment: More details on the Louvre’s website, the tiara, Marie-Louise bio.

*Parure: a set of jewels intended to be worn together.

Trinket Tuesday is where I share some of the lovely things I discover during my travels, research or around town. All pictures are my own (unless I state otherwise). I hope you enjoy!