2022 Royal Reading List

Some book links below may be Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to buy through that link, it doesn’t change your price at all, but Amazon will give me a few extra cents for the tiara research fund.

Do you love reading about royals as much as I do? If so, check out my 2022 royal reading list - all the research books I bought, borrowed, and re-read are listed here. I’m adding books as I read them, so check back to see if your picks made the list.

Just scroll down to get the info for each book, including my comments. Or use the table of contents below to jump straight to a book you’re already interested in.

Want to suggest a book for me this year? I’d love to know what titles you recommend. Click here to drop me a line.

Last updated: January 2, 2023

2022 Royal Read­ing List

in alphabetical order

Ambition and Desire  |  Becoming a Romanov  |  Caught in the Revolution  |  Christian IX  |  The Crimean War  |  Daisy Princess of Pless  |  Darling Loosy  |  Die Herzen der Leuchtenberg  |  Dorothea Lieven  |  Embassies of Other Days  |  Emperor Francis Joseph  |  Ena and Bee  |  The Fall of the Dynasties  |  Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and her Palace in St. Petersburg  |  In Napoleonic Days  |  In the Shadow of the Empress  |  The Lost Queen |  The Lost Tudor Princess  |  Love, Power and Revenge  |  Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen  |  Metternich  |  Nicholas I  |  Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Marie 1874  |  Princess Alice  |  Princess Olga  |  Queen Mary  |  Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera  |  Queens of the Crusades  |  The Quest for Queen Mary  |  Return of the Swallows  |  The Romanovs  |  A Royal Experiment  |  Royal Subjects  |  Societys Queen  |  Storms over Luxembourg  |  Sunlight at Midnight  |  Talleyrand  |  Thunder at Twilight  |  The Tsar’s Doctor |   The Vanquished  |  Die württembergischen Königinnen

Read but not reviewed (fiction, out of my usual range of study, ran out of time, etc.)

Archduke of Sarajevo   |   City on Fire Daughters of Yalta  |  Dracul  |  Everybody Behaves Badly  |  Killers of the Flower Moon  |  Murder at Teal’s Pond  |  The Name of War (King Philip's War)  |   The Secret Queen (Eleanor Talbot)   |  The Sun Also Rises  |   Under His Spell  |   The Vapors   |   The White Ship

Ambition and Desire

Ambition and Desire by Kate Williams

Subtitle: The Dangerous Life of Josephine Bonaparte
Author: Kate Williams
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 2014
Available at: Amazon

I bought this eBook a few years ago when I spotted it on sale. It’s taken me a really long time to get to it, but I pulled it up now because – well, who doesn’t want to read a book about Josephine? She’s the ultimate royal survivor. But also, her son Eugène de Beauharnais had a son named Max who married one of my Romanov research subjects (Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna, sister of Olga and Adini). I didn’t expect to find much about Eugène, and I didn’t – there’s more about Hortense than Eugène in this book. But I enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than I expected and I highly recommend it.

Becoming a Romanov

Becoming a Romanov by Marina Soroka and Charles A. Ruud

Subtitle: Grand Duchess Elena of Russia and her World (1807-1873)
Authors: Marina Soroka and Charles A. Ruud
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

This is the only full-length English-language source on Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, so it was a no-brainer that I’d have to buy it. I was looking for information on Elena and her three daughters, one of whom married Adolph of Nassau (father of my research subject Hilda of Baden). This book is a goldmine of information for anyone interested in the reign of Nicholas I or the emancipation of the serfs early in the reign of his son, Alexander II.

Caught in the Revolution

Caught in the Revolution by Helen Rappaport

Subtitle: Witnesses to the Fall of Imperial Russia
Author: Helen Rappaport
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because I’m a sucker for anything on the Russian Revolution. Plus, the more into research I get, the more I see the value of primary sources like the ones this author uncovered. As an impatient high school and college student, I often skipped or skimmed primary sources – I wanted gossip and analysis, not “thee”s and “thou”s of old letters. But now that I’m older and theoretically wiser, I do want those primary accounts of historical events. This book definitely scratched that itch.

Christian IX

Christian IX by Hans Roger Madol

Author: Hans Roger Madol (translated from German/Danish)
Publisher: Collins
Year: 1939
Available at: Abe Books

I picked up a used copy of this biography of King Christian IX of Denmark because I heard it had information about Prince Friedrich of Hesse-Cassel, husband of Grand Duchess Alexandra Nikolaevna of Russia. It did, but it was also a good chance to learn about the “Father-in-law of Europe” – whose daughters married into the royal families of Great Britain, Russia, and Hanover and whose sons became kings of Denmark and Greece.

The Crimean War

The Crimean War by Orlando Figes

Author: Orlando Figes
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Year: 2010
Available at: Amazon

I bought this eBook because it’s tangentially related to one of my big research projects: the daughters and nieces of Tsar Nicholas I. Although the grand duchesses weren’t involved in the war, Russia’s shoddy performance helped send Nicholas into an early grave. I’m not a fan of war history, but in this case, knowing more could only help create a fuller picture of what Russia went through during their lives.

Daisy Princess of Pless

Daisy Princess of Pless by W. John Koch

Subtitle: A Discovery
Author: W. John Koch
Publisher: Books by W. John Koch Publishing
Year: 2003
Available at: Amazon

If you’re looking for an upper-class perspective on Edwardian society and World War I, Daisy is a fantastic source for you. I bought this book because I’d read one of Daisy’s books, Daisy Princess of Pless by Herself (1929). You can download it for free from Archive.org, along with a couple others she wrote: Better Left Unsaid and From My Private Diary. Of course, getting the story from the source is ideal, but it’s also good to get a modern perspective on a historical figure. I wanted to see what Daisy might have glossed over or left out, hence this biography.

Darling Loosy

Darling Loosy by Elizabeth Longford

Subtitle: Letters to Princess Louise 1856-1939
Editor: Elizabeth Longford
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year: 1991
Available at: Amazon

I picked up a used copy of this after reading Julia Gelardi’s short book on Prince Alfred’s wedding to Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. A few of Queen Victoria’s comments on the couple came from letters in this book. So when I saw there were used copies under $10 on Amazon, I bought it.

Die Herzen der Leuchtenberg

Die Herzen der Leuchtenberg by Adalbert Prinz von Bayern

Subtitle: Geschichte Einer Bayerisch-Napoleonischen Familie
Author: Adalbert Prinz von Bayern
Publisher: Nymphenburger
Year: 1991
Available at: Abe Books

I bought a used copy of this book because I needed to know more about the man who married Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna of Russia – Max, 3rd Duke of Leuchtenberg. This book is his family’s story, as told by the historian Prince Adalbert of Bavaria. What better place to look for information than from someone who has access to family information?

Dorothea Lieven

Dorothea Lieven by Judith Lissauer Cromwell

Subtitle: A Russian Princess in London and Paris 1785-1857
Author: Judith Lissauer Cromwell
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Inc.
Year: 2007
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because references to and quotes from Dorothea Lieven are inescapable in the time period I’m researching (early-mid 19th century). Born the daughter of a Baltic baron, she married the son of Charlotte Lieven, governess to Tsar Paul I’s children. When he became the Russian ambassador to Britain, Dorothea took center stage – and her talent turned her marriage into a purgatory.

Embassies of Other Days

Embassies of Other Days by Lady Walburga Paget

Volumes 1 & 2
Author: Lady Walburga Paget
Publisher: George H. Doral Company
Year: 1923
Available at: AbeBooks

If you love 19th century royal history, you’ve almost certainly seen quotes from Walburga Hohenthal (later Lady Augustus Paget) in your favorite royal biographies. If you’re like me, you want to go straight to the source of those quotes and read their full context for yourself. I put off buying her memoirs for quite awhile because used copies were a bit expensive ($50-$100). But, with all the talk of inflation lately, I figured nothing is going get cheaper so I’d better bite the bullet and do it. I’m glad I did. There are SO MANY casual references to interesting people and events that it’s going to take quite awhile to sort through them all.

Emperor Francis Joseph

Emperor Francis Joseph by John Van der Kiste

Subtitle: Life, Death and the Fall of the Habsburg Empire
Author: John Van der Kiste
Publisher: The History Press
Year: 2013 (originally published in 2005)
Available at: Amazon

I bought a digital copy of this book because I’ve really enjoyed several other Van der Kiste books (and the royal memoirs he’s been republishing for those of us who crave that sort of thing). I liked this book, too – it had a great balance between the political and the personal.

Ena and Bee

Ena and Bee by Ana de Sagrera

Subtitle: Queen Victoria’s Spanish Granddaughters
Author: Ana de Sagrera
Translator: Iain Dorward Steward
Publisher: Fonthill
Year: 2022 (originally published in Spanish in 2006)
Available at: Amazon

I gifted myself this eBook with an Amazon gift card I got from work for Christmas. Having read only a couple books about Spain and Queen Victoria Eugenia (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria), I wanted to know more. Plus, this book hit the sweet spot of also covering a royal I didn’t know much about – Beatrice of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, also a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and sister of Queen Marie of Romania.

The Fall of the Dynasties

The Fall of the Dynasties by Edmond Taylor

Subtitle: The Collapse of the Order 1905-1922
Author: Edmond Taylor
Publisher: Congregation Press
Year: 2017 (this eBook edition; originally published in 1963)
Available at: Amazon

Apparently, I bought this eBook twice – while scanning my unread titles, I found two versions on my Kindle. Since I’m incredibly cheap and rely almost exclusively on BookBub deals, I’m pretty sure I only paid a buck or two for each copy. Not gonna chalk this up as an L for that very reason.

Maria Nikolayevna

Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Her Palace in St. Petersburg by Zoia Belyakova

Full Title: Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna and Her Palace in St. Petersburg
Author: Zoia Belyakova
Publisher: EGO Publishers
Year: 1994
Available at: Amazon (used)

I bought this book because I wanted to know more about the daughters of Nicholas I: Maria, Olga, and Adini. Maria was the most elusive - I'd already read Olga's memoir, and it provided a lot of information about Adini. Maria, however, was a few years older than Olga and that gap set her apart, enough to make getting to know her through Olga's memoir difficult. I was hoping this book could shed some more light on her.

In the Shadow of the Empress

In the Shadow of the Empress by Nancy Goldstone

Subtitle: The Defiant Lives of Maria Theresa, Mother of Marie Antoinette, and Her Daughters
Author: Nancy Goldstone
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon (used)

I have several of Goldstone’s previous books and enjoyed reading them (particularly Daughters of the Winter Queen). So I grabbed this as soon as I saw it on the library’s new nonfiction shelf. This book has the same light touch of humor I appreciated in Daughters and novel-like pacing and transitions, but the controversy this book has generated online left me a little disturbed.

The Lost Queen

The Lost Queen by Anne Stott

Subtitle: The Life and Tragedy of the Prince Regent’s Daughter
Author: Anne Stott
Publisher: Pen & Sword History
Year: 2020
Available at: Amazon (used)

I bought this eBook because of Charlotte’s connection to one of my research subjects (however distant). Princess Charlotte – the “Lost Queen” of this book – was the daughter of the Prince Regent (future King George IV) and his much-loathed wife, Princess Caroline of Brunswick. Charlotte died in childbirth and never became queen, opening the door for the future Queen Victoria. But Charlotte’s aunt was Augusta of Brunswick, one of my research subjects. The sisters, Augusta and Caroline, lived remote, separate lives once Augusta married Duke Friedrich of Württemberg, so I wasn’t hoping for any tidbits about her here. But my general interest in this Brunswick family that led me to want to learn more about Augusta’s niece, Charlotte.

In Napoleonic Days

In Napoleonic Days - the diary of Augusta of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld

Subtitle: Extracts from the Private Diary of Augusta, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, Queen Victoria’s Maternal Grandmother 1806-1821
Author: Augusta, Duchess of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (selected & translated by Princess Beatrice, foreword by John Van der Kiste)
Publisher: A&F Reprints
Year: 2020
Available at: Amazon

I stumbled on this while browsing the Kindle store and since the eBook was only $3.59, I had to grab it. As the foreword explains, this is a reprint of an extremely rare book first printed in 1941 with a print run of about 1,500 copies. During the early days of World War II, Princess Beatrice decided to translate and publish selections from her great-grandmother’s diary. She felt it would be interesting and helpful for people to see what it had been like to live through the Napoleonic wars. I think it’s fascinating for anyone at any time, regardless of current world events.

The Lost Tudor Princess

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

Subtitle: The Life of Lady Margaret Douglas
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

As a fan of Alison Weir’s nonfiction, I had to grab this when I saw the Kindle version available for a couple bucks. As always, I learned a lot and greatly respect Weir as a writer and researcher. If you’re new to Weir’s back catalog, this would make a great prequel to her book on (spoiler alert) the murder of Darnley, Margaret’s son.

Love, Power and Revenge

Love, Power and Revenge by Nancy Becker

Subtitle: Imperial Triangle of Napoleon III, Empress Eugénie and the Intriguing Duke of Sesto
Author: Nancy Becker
Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc.
Year: 2011
Available at: Amazon

I stumbled across this book while looking for information on Sofia Trubetskoy. It came up in my Google Books search results, and come to find out, it was available for free via Kindle Unlimited. I did find a little more information of Sofia Trubetskoy, but the book overall was a bit too much for me. What do I mean by that? Let’s find out.

Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen

Marie Antoinette and Count Fersen by Evelyn Farr

Subtitle: The Untold Love Story
Author: Evelyn Farr
Publisher: Peter Owen
Year: 2013 (revised & expanded edition)
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because, let’s face it, who’s NOT interested in Marie Antoinette? Back in the day, when I haunted my local public library for new royal books, I remember seeing the Stanley Loomis book The Fatal Friendship, which presumably covers some of the same territory. Unfortunately, I skipped that one...which is why my knowledge of this relationship is at a deficit. Time to fix that!


Metternich by Desmond Seward

Subtitle: The First European
Author: Desmond Seward
Publisher: Lume Books (digital edition)
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book through Kindle Unlimited. I’m looking for more information on Chancellor Metternich’s interactions with Tsar Nicholas I, especially in the years 1840-1845. What happened in those years? Well, Nicholas was in low-key on-again off-again negotiations for his daughter Olga to marry Archduke Stephen, the son of Archduke Joseph, palatine of Hungary. But reading about the situation from Olga and Nicholas’s point of view only provides half the story. Nicholas felt that Metternich was dishonest about the possibility of that marriage ever happening. But how did Metternich see it? Did this book answer that question?

Nicholas I

The Lost Tudor Princess by Alison Weir

Subtitle: Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias
Author: W. Bruce Lincoln
Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
Year: 1978
Available at: Amazon

I ordered a used copy of this book because it’s the most recent biography of Nicholas I in English. I’d read some of Lincoln’s journal articles on Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna, but it was time to take the dive into a full-on study of her brother-in-law to learn more about the tsar who – fairly or not – is probably best remembered for censorship and oppression.

Prince Alfred & Grand Duchess Marie 1874

Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Marie 1874 by Julia P. Gelardi

Author: Julia P. Gelardi
Publisher: Julia P. Gelardi
Year: 2022
Available at: Amazon

I own all three of Julia Gelardi’s traditionally published books, so when I stumbled on a new short series she’s writing on the weddings of Queen Victoria’s kids, I picked one up via Kindle Unlimited.

Princess Alice

Princess Alice by Gerard Noel

Subtitle: Queen Victoria’s Forgotten Daughter
Author: Gerard Noel
Publisher: Michael Russell
Year: 1992 (originally published in 1974)
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because of the behind-the-scenes row over Prince Alfred’s engagement to Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna as detailed in Julia Gelardi’s “Prince Alfred and Grand Duchess Marie.” As Gelardi described it, Queen Victoria was really on the outs with her second daughter, Princess Alice, during the run-up to that engagement (early 1870s). She talked some hellacious smack, literally calling Alice a “real Devil in the family” for the impact she was having on the rest of the family. (Noel, 120) Obviously, that was an exaggeration written in a moment of pique. Still, I wanted to know more about this seemingly chaotic relationship, so I ordered a used copy of this book online.

Princess Olga

Princess Alice by Gerard Noel

Subtitle: Her Life and Times
Author: Robert Prentice
Publisher: Grosvenor House Publishing Limited
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

This book made it onto my wishlist as soon as I heard of it. I eventually bought it because – for shame – I needed to add something at least $18 to my Amazon cart to get free shipping on a recent order. In this book, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of the Greek Royal family and get a glimpse of a truly touching relationship between a mother and her three daughters.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy

Author: James Pope-Hennessy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Year: 2019 (eBook edition)
Available at: Amazon

Harold Nicolson called this book, “The most entertaining royal biography that has ever been written,” and he’s absolutely right. I had to re-read it after reading the behind-the-scenes look at the writing of the book in The Quest for Queen Mary. I’d read this last sometime after college, but this time, I saw so much more of Pope-Hennessy’s skill and talent as a writer.

Queen Victoria & the Discovery of the Riviera

Queen Victoria and the Discovery of the Riviera

Author: Michael Nelson
Publisher: I.B. Tauris
Year: 2001
Available at: Amazon

I bought a used copy of this book because I wanted more background on the Riviera as a playground for the rich and royal. Several of the royal women I’m researching spent a lot of time there – including Grand Duchess Anastasia of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Princess Ka‘iulani of Hawai‘i. I wanted this book to tell me more about the experience of being a royal on the Riviera for the Season.

Queens of the Crusades

Queens of the Crusades by Alison Weir

Subtitle: England’s Medieval Queens Book 2
Author: Alison Weir
Publisher: Ballantine
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up because I’m a big Alison Weir fan and I’ll buy any of her non-fiction books. This is the second book in a series on the medieval queens of England, and I don’t have the first book yet, but it’s not like there are spoilers, so no harm no foul. Since I don’t specialize in the medieval period, and haven’t read about most of these women in decades, I was hoping new research had come to light regarding their stories. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Quest for Queen Mary

The Quest for Queen Mary by James Pope-Hennessy

Author: James Pope-Hennessy (edited by Hugo Vickers)
Publisher: Zuleika & Hodder & Stoughton
Year: 2018
Available at: Amazon

I bought this eBook because, like all conscientious readers of royal biographies, I’m always curious about what didn’t make it in the book. This was my chance to find out – with one of the best case-studies of all time.

Return of the Swallows

Return of the Swallows by Dorothy Countess Praschma

Author: Dorothy, Countess Praschma (compiled & edited by Ilona Praschma Balfour)
Publisher: Ilona Praschma Balfour
Year: 2018
Available at: Amazon

I discovered this book by doing a deep dive into the offerings on Eastern Europe in Kindle Unlimited and I’m so glad I did. It’s a beautiful memoir and a harrowing tale that focuses on the last days and immediate aftermath of World War II in Czechoslovakia and Germany. The author’s daughter put this book together, and I really hope more people find it because it’s a fascinating look at what it was like for Czech and German nobility toward the end of the war. I’ve read and reviewed a few other books that cover similar territory – the havoc wreaked on a royal or noble family during the end of World War II:

This book deserves a place on the shelf next to them.

The Romanovs

The Romanovs by Virginia Cowles

Author: Virginia Cowles
Publisher: Sharpe Books
Year: 2018 (Kindle edition)
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book through Kindle Unlimited. I enjoyed Cowles’s book on Wilhelm II (The Kaiser), and I enjoyed this one, too. It’s a mad dash through Russian history: 300 years in about 300 pages. Cowles references E.M. Almedingen’s The Romanovs in the notes; now I’m curious as to how that book differs. That’s history for you – there’s always another source to find.

A Royal Experiment

A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow

Author: Janice Hadlow
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Year: 2014
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up via a BookBub deal a few years ago and finally got to it. I bought it because George’s sister Augusta is the mother of Princess Augusta of Brunswick, one of my research subjects. Since Augusta and her more famous sister, Caroline, had notoriously shitty childhoods, I figured some of that might stem from the way their mother – George III’s sister – was raised. Was that actually the case?

Royal Subjects

Royal Subjects by Theo Aronson

Author: Theo Aronson
Publisher: Lume Books (eBook edition)
Year: 2021
Available at: Amazon

I picked this book up through Kindle Unlimited because I’ve read most of Aronson’s other books and enjoyed them. This one promised a peek behind the curtain at what went on as he wrote those books – which was extra interesting since I’d just read The Quest for Queen Mary. Long story short, this book is absolutely charming. It made me wish Aronson was still alive to give us more of his wonderful books.

Society’s Queen

Society's Queen by Anne de Courcy

Subtitle: The Life of Edith, Marchioness of Londonderry
Author: Anne de Courcy
Publisher: Phoenix
Year: 2012 (eBook edition)
Available at: Amazon

I stumbled across this book while looking for information on the Londonderry amethysts, given to Frances Anne by Tsar Alexander I. I figured why not find out more about the family – and another woman who eventually wore the same jewels. This book was written with the full assistance of Edith’s daughter, Mairi, and four of her grandchildren, which boded well for accuracy and access.

Storms Over Luxembourg

Storms Over Luxembourg by Fausto Gardini

Subtitle: The 1919 Crisis Genesis & Consequences
Author: Fausto Gardini
Publisher: Fausto Gardini
Year: 2009
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book through Kindle Unlimited because it’s tangentially related to one of my research subjects, Grand Duchess Hilda of Baden. Turns out, this is less of a book and more a collection of research and essays. It had no new information for me about Hilda or her niece, Princess Antonia of Luxembourg, but it was interesting to read some of the information about soldiers of Luxembourg who fought with the Belgian and American armies in World War I. I also enjoyed his defense of Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde – of course she couldn’t have refused to see the Kaiser when he arrived in 1914. Sheesh.

Sunlight at Midnight

Sunlight at Midnight by W. Bruce Lincoln

Subtitle: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia
Author: W. Bruce Lincoln
Publisher: Basic Books
Year: 2000
Available at: Amazon

I’ve had this book on my shelf, since, oh, the Borders book chain was still around. I picked it up now, looking for details on the history and architecture of St. Petersburg. I’m working on a chapter about the Decembrist Revolt (1825), and understanding people’s movements that day require a deep familiarity with the geography and buildings of St. Petersburg. Along with Google Maps, this seemed like a good start.


Talleyrand by Robin Harris

Subtitle: Betrayer and Saviour of France
Author: Robin Harris
Publisher: Lume Books (eBook edition)
Year: 2018
Available at: Amazon

I picked up this book via Kindle Unlimited because I know next to nothing about Talleyrand. I wrote a Medium post about his long-term love, the Duchesse de Dino, but since that article was more about her, a lingering curiosity about him remained. All I knew was what I remembered from the 1988 TV miniseries Napoleon and Josephine, where he was played by Anthony Hopkins. So…will the real Talleyrand please stand up?

Thunder at Twilight

Thunder at Twilight by Frederic Morton

Subtitle: Vienna 1913-1914
Author: Frederic Morton
Publisher: Da Capo Press (eBook edition)
Year: 2014 (reprinted, 2nd edition; originally published 1989)
Available at: Amazon

I picked this up in eBook via a BookBub deal – but I had wanted it for awhile after reading the same author’s A Nervous Splendor (highly recommended - here is my review). That book uses pivotal characters in history who were all in Vienna in 1889 to set the scene and tell the story of Crown Prince Rudolf and Mary Vetsera’s suicide pact, which changed the course of Habsburg history forever. In this book, Morton takes the same approach to covering the years in Vienna leading up to World War I.

The Tsar’s Doctor

The Tsar's Doctor by Mary McGrigor

Subtitle: The Life and Times of Sir James Wylie
Author: Mary McGrigor
Publisher: Birlinn
Year: 2010
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book because Dr. James Wylie is an incredibly interesting guy – and if Tsar Nicholas I hadn’t burned his memoir, we might have a clearer picture of what, exactly, happened on the night Tsar Paul I was murdered…and whether the body buried in Tsar Alexander I’s coffin was really him. Intrigued yet?

The Vanquished

The Vanquished by Robert Gerwarth

Subtitle: Why the First World War Failed to End
Author: Robert Gerwarth
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Year: 2016
Available at: Amazon

I bought this book to get more details on the aftermath of World War I for people in the former Austro-Hungarian and German empires. I knew it wasn’t going to give me any specific details about, say, the Habsburgs or Hohenzollerns, but I wanted a better idea of what happened after these empires dissolved. What was it like to live through that? What happened in terms of society and politics?

Die württembergischen Königinnen

Die württembergischen Königinnen by Sabine-Thomsen

Subtitle: Charlotte Mathilde, Katharina, Pauline, Olga, Charlotte - ihr Leben und Wirken
Author: C. Sabine Thomsen
Publisher: Silberburg Verlag
Year: 2010
Available at: Amazon

I ordered this book from Amazon a couple years ago. Okay, more than a couple...like, probably, 2018. Two queens of Württemberg have connections to my research subjects, and I figured this accessible book would give me a good intro to them. The women in question are: (1) Queen Charlotte Matilda, second wife of King Friedrich of Württemberg (his first was Augusta of Brunswick, my research subject), and (2) Queen Olga, cousin of Grand Duchess Elizaveta Mikhailovna (first wife of Hilda of Baden’s father). It took me forever to get to because of the need to scan and translate it, but now that I have, I’m glad I did.

What royal history books have you read this year? Send me a message to recommend your favorites!

Here’s to another great year of royal reading & research in 2022!

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