Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Historical Flavour of the Week: Maria-Adelaide of Savoy

Born in the Royal Palace of Torino in 1685, her father was a Prince of Piedmont and her mother a Princess of France by royal blood (and-she’s Henrietta’s granddaughter). .

This angelic child came to the Court of Louis XIV, at the tender age of ten and was soon betrothed to Louis’ grandson (who was next in line of succession after his father; Louis'son).

Louis was totally enchanted by this lovely Italian princess who delighted everyone at court. She especially knew how to make the King smile and filled his heart with warmth and kindness. She literally brought out the best in people especially because she was gentle, thoughtful and cheery to all those who knew her. Not only was she totally charming, Maria-Adelaide was an absolutely beautiful child; she was actually nicknamed the ‘walking doll.'

The King really loved her and she loved him too. Apparently she has been quoted for having said to Madame Maintenon, while sitting on her lap, ‘Teach me well I beg you, what I have to do to please the King’. By this type of interchange we can see how close she was to Madame Maintenon as well. She also used to address her as ‘aunt’ something that was never done at Court.

So loved was she by the King and the Court that even before becoming Dauphine, and right after the death of her mother-in-law, Adelaide was considered First Lady of Louis’ Kingdom. To further this point, when Queen Maria Teresa, Louis XIV’s wife died, Adelaide was given her apartments at Versailles (sharing the same floor as the King and Madame de Maintenon).

The King clearly gave preferential treatment to this lovely princess much to the demise of his own legitimized daughters by the Marquise de Montespan and the Duchesse de Lavallière. This close relationship of theirs really aggravated the two ladies…

In December 1697 Adelaide married the duc de Bourgogne (Louis’ grandson), as planned. The wonderful exception in this case was that the two were genuinely in love- such a rare thing at the time, especially in the Court of Versailles. Unfortunately the couple had several heartbreaks when it came to forming their family. She suffered four stillborn births to then give birth to two Louis' who died in infancy. Her last living child though, would become King Louis XV, (making her by far an important figure of the times).

The chain of horrible deaths that would ensue from 1711 to 1712 would devastate Louis XIV. First, the death of Louis’s son (Adelaide’s father-in-law)- then less than a year later, Adelaide would die from the pox, followed by her husband and her five year-old son.

Here is a quote from Cronin’s Louis XIV that can sum up her personality and why she was loved so:

‘Madame de Maintenon wrote: “She has a natural courtesy which permits her to say nothing but what is pleasant. Yesterday I tried to prevent her from caressing me, saying I was too old. ‘Ah, not so old as that!’ and did me the honour of embracing me.”

The little princess came like a breath of spring to the ageing Court. She was lively and loving and played games with the courtiers, sang at the tables and even danced on her chair. She used the informal ‘tu’ to Louis, rumpled his clothes and mussed his wig. When the post arrived, she would open his letters and sometimes sit on his knee while he read them. “Everybody here has become a child again”’

Louis suffered great losses but it is said that he never got over the death of Adelaide. He was crushed and heart-broken. The Kingdom was in full mourning- Gone were the glowing rays in the Sun King’s Court.

Marie-Adelaide truly left her mark not only as the angelic Dauphine in the times of Louis XIV- but also as the sweet mother of France’s subsequent King Louis XV.


Monday, June 29, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: My Enemy the Queen, by Victoria Holt

Good morning everyone:)

For anyone interested on reading about Lettice Devereux (cousin to Elizabeth I, and also a Boleyn) and the Queen herself, you probably would enjoy My Enemy the Queen, by Victoria Holt. I just posted my review at Plaidy's Royal Intrigue. You can check it out here:


Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Moments: Colorful Entertainment…

If some of you recall, the last book I read on courtesans nearly bored me to death with all the geographical details and timelines. Since that last review, I’ve been receiving a few courtesan novels to help convince me that these were actually fun ladies (really?)…

One of these books that I’m currently reading (courtesy of my good friend Arleigh at Historical-fiction.com:) is ‘In The Company of The Courtesan’.

So far, I’m totally entertained by this book. And- there’s a plus to this one…it’s based in Venice (that's another reason why Arleigh thought I'd like it)!! I’ll have plenty to rave about in my upcoming review on this one.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Le Jeudi de JoJo: Enchanting Winners!!!

Thank you all so much for joining me for Josephine’s Birthday! You can’t imagine how happy all of you made me:) I just wish I had tons and tons of gifts for every one of you dear friends. This giveaway was so much fun and I got to meet so many new bloggers with such beautiful blogs. Please if you have the time, go mingle and check all of these people out, fascinating stuff and so much creativity!

Special thanks go to Joy at Cupid’s Charm for her wonderful Charm giveaway. I’m sure the lucky winner will be thrilled. Joy is exceptionally talented- her creations are to die for!

And now, for the winners…

1st Prize: The Josephine Trilogy goes to: Jenny Girl!!

2nd Prize: Gently recycled copy of The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. goes to: Jessica.marie!

And this is what Joy had to say about the third prize winner for the Josephine Portrait Charm:

‘OK.....here is my winner.....drum roll please........."Marie". She posted on my blog and also yours. Kind of ironic that someone named "Marie" would win the Josephine giveaway, when I am all things Marie and you are all things Josephine! I could not help but smile when her name came up as the winner.’

-That’s marielay@gmail.com (to avoid any Marie confusion:)

Congratulations to all the Winners!!! Please email me your address.

Thank you all for your participation and for your wonderful comments…we must definitely do this again very soon! Josephine was Enchanted I'm sure...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jo-Jo's Birthday GIVEAWAY!!

Bonjour Everyone! So glad you dropped by!

It’s Party time at Chateau Malmaison

Photo by Davide Cherubini

Follow me to the gardens where the rest of the ladies are enjoying my day of celebration in the fresh air.

Even Bonaparte is enjoying himself (can you see him playing tag with Hortense?)…Ahh, what happy times!

…Soak up the scent of lovely roses in bloom…Such a joyful day for me…

Now let’s get on with my Giveaway!

Drum roll…

1st Prize: Josephine B. Trilogy, by Sandra Gulland

2nd Prize: A gently recycled copy of The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland (Part 1 of the Trilogy)

3rd Prize:
an incredibly beautiful Josephine Portrait Charm, courtesy of Joy at Cupids Charm

You can enter all 3 giveaways!!!

So to enter this is what you have to do:

For the book giveaways:

1 chance: Leave a comment telling me you want to be entered
2 chances: Leave a comment and Become a follower of this blog (if you’re already a follower you automatically get this)
3 chances!!! Leave a comment and Post about this on your blog linking back to here.

To be entered for the Cupids Charm :

1 chance: You need to Leave a comment HERE + leave a comment at Cupid’s Charm too

For 2 chances:
Leave a comment and Become a follower of Cupid’s Charm

Please Specify which giveaway you're interested in (you can enter all 3)Just let me know:)

Good Luck to all! I love these books, they're my favourite. And as for the charm, Thank You so much for this Joy. Cupids Charm creations are always so splendid. Please visit this stunning site if you haven't already- you'll be mesmerized.

The winners will be announced on Thursday’s ‘Jeudi de Josephine’, June 25th.

Thanks so much for coming!! It was such a pleasure for me:)


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heads Up!! You're Invited...

Hi Everyone:)

I'd like to invite you all this coming Tuesday to Josephine's Birthday Bash! I will be having a 3-Way Giveaway!!

2 Books Plus something special courtesy of Cupids Charm...!!

Please Join me on Tuesday, June 23rd.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day!!!

To all the wonderful Fathers out there- Know that you are loved, wanted, needed and extremely important. Happy Fathers Day!!

Has anyone ever read this book? I thought it was terrific, and so did my husband. We both highly recommend it:)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Venetian Treat: Le 'Frittole'

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I’ll probably be serving up some Venetian sweets. Venetian Frittole are a bit similar to donuts except a little richer and a bit more complicated (like most Italian fussy dishes)…

Le Frittole are usually served around Carnival time in northern Italy, but we also make them for other fun or special occasions. They’re not the healthiest- granted, but they are traditional- dating back centuries, so I do make them once in a while. We feast and indulge in them, knowing these only come around occasionally, so even ‘lean Angeline’ will make the exception;)

Here’s the recipe for these very filling, but yummy little donuts:

You’ll need:

400 gr. of flour
100 gr. of sultan raisins
1 tbl. Sp. Sugar
2 eggs
30 gr. of yeast
1 glass of milk (heat it up to luke warm)
1 glass of rhum
About a litre of oil for frying (I know, I know…)
100 gr of icing sugar (for topping- optional)
A bit of salt

To prepare:

Dilute the yeast in a cup with about 3 tbl. sp. of water.
Put the raisins to moisten in some lukewarm water.
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and salt. Dig in the middle to make a tunnel-like with the flour, so that you can place whole eggs, rhum and diluted yeast in that middle.

Mix it all up with the help of milk (to moisten). When you get a dough that is consistent enough, mix in the raisins. Cover up the whole mixture and set aside for about 2 hours (or until the mixture doubles in size)

When you’re to ready to fry, make sure the oil is very hot in the pan (175celcius). Gently drop the mixture by the spoonful, turning them gently only once (this will give you small golden balls). Remove and place on a large tray lined with absorbing paper to remove excess oil.

Once they’re well dried, sprinkle some icing sugar on them and they’re ready to serve.

Delicious! (I’ve already gained a few pounds just writing this).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Historical Flavour of the Week: Henriette d’Angleterre (June 16 1644- June 30, 1670)

This fun-loving and absolutely charming princess, also named Henrietta-Anne Stuart was the daughter of Charles I (of England and Scotland) and of Henriette of France- and, most importantly, Henry IV’s (Henry the Great) granddaughter. This would also make her Louis XIV’s first cousin. She was of Royal lineage through and through.

Today marks the birthday of this exuberant Princess who was born in England at the peak of England’s civil war. Shortly after giving birth to her, wasting no time, her mother who had no choice but to escape to France due to the political instability of England and persecution, leaving Henriette in the care of her governess, Lady Dalkeith, Countess of Morton.

A few months after her birth, ‘Minette’ as she was affectionately called, was transferred along with her governess to London by force. Opposed to this, the gutsy governess, fearing for the life of the baby princess, dressed herself up as a villager and Minette as her baby boy -smuggled her way to France and into the Court of Louis XIV.

By this time her father had been executed and stripped of his title. This left Minette and her mother to live, albeit in the Royal Court, as poor heiresses of what was then thought of as a lost kingdom and a finished royal lineage…

Henriette was raised by the Sisters of the Visitation, where she was given a good Catholic upbringing filled with the riches of culture and fine education. At Court, she was never permitted to be distinguished as royalty though. Her poverty was such that her mother, the deposed Queen of England, had to sell most of her jewelry and best China just to survive.

Despite the fact that she was a desolate forgotten princess, Henriettte’s spirit never plunged. Her fate finally changed when her brother became King Charles II of England after having re-conquered the thrown. She was very close to her brother and his ascension changed her life around. This time around, she was Princess Henriette the most- sought- after lady of the highest regal standing. Almost too royal to find a husband suiting her rankage, LouisXIV decided that she would be an excellent consort for his brother Philippe.

Due to the Princess’ fun-loving character, amusing ways and innocent flirtations, much has been written about the alleged romantic relationship between Henriette and Louis XIV. Most of this is speculation though, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that Henriette’s husband had totally no interest in women.

In fact, furiously outrageous fights were the order of the day between the married couple. Insinuations incurred bouts of jealousy- all because of Henriette’s natural tendency to popularity (especially with the King) infuriated Philippe who always needed to be the center of attention. Louis, on the other hand, really enjoyed Minette’s company and was openly affectionate towards her, but nothing past that. Being the sensitive man that he was, it may have been that Louis felt sorry for much of what the Princess had to endure. Especially since Philippe was overtly enamored with the Chevalier de Lorraine (who openly detested Madame) and would have done anything for him much to the demise of Henriette.

How did it all end for this beautiful Princess? After returning from London, where she was instrumental in helping rekindle alliances between her brother and Louis, she was afflicted by horrible pains on her side. She had apparently started feeling sick after drinking some chicory coffee. Henriette died within minutes. She was only 26. They said it was peritonitis…although most people suspected poison.

The case was cleverly muffled. However, in the Palatine Princess’ memoirs (Philippe’s subsequent wife), it appears that Philippe might have alluded to a few culprits…le Chevalier de Lorraine’s name came up quite often. That does seem plausible considering Philippe’s gossipy reputation and especially for not being able to keep a secret…

Book Moments: Nefertiti's Timeless Beauty

Nefertiti definitely stands out as one of the most beautiful and entrancing women of all times. Everything ever written on her sums her beauty as extraordinarily regal, aristocratic and enigmantic. Her gaze was magnetic and proud; she had an air that commanded admiration and total enrapture. It’s no wonder that this woman was able to move almost heaven and earth, so to speak…Her husband was totally bewitched by her.

So far, ‘Nefertiti’ by Michelle Moran, has captured me in trance…a few chapters left of this engaging read. Look forward to a promising review very soon.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Review: Louis XIV by Vincent Cronin

I can’t recall when or if I’ve ever read anything historically factual that was this captivating. Here’s a history book that reads better than a novel. Truly, the life of Louis XIV is described in such vivid details that I couldn’t help being totally absorbed by this book. There is a section dedicated to practically every imaginable aspect of Louis’ life.

Not only are the King’s numerous and lucrative achievements clearly explained throughout; the specifics of his attitude, beliefs, mannerisms, thought processes, creativity and more, unfold with such eloquence and sequence, it’s impossible to put this book down. Your curiosity passes from one topic to the other. Before you know it, you’ve read the whole book.

Louis was a King who was completely in his element as ruler of his country. His total and absolute regality was totally natural for him; yet, he had the keenest of abilities for understanding people of all levels.

There are sections dedicated to the important women in his life, filled with the most interesting personal particularities that were an absolute delight for me to read. There is also a section that goes into the minute specifics of a typical day in his life. I was surprised to learn of Louis’ unbelievably huge appetite (there’s a whole section on this too) as well as the whole ordeal of getting the meal to him. Here’s a passage on this:

‘To reach the royal table the King’s dinner had to cross the Rue de la Surintendance, enter the south wing, mount a staircase, pass through several corridors, cross the upper vestibule of the staircase of the princes, the salon of the shopkeepers (Versailles had its own shopping center), the Grand Hall of the guards, the upper vestibule of the marble case and finally the Hall of the King’s Guards.’

Louis was also the brains behind much of the Versailles creation- he was a patron of the arts and was responsible for much of France’s grandeur. There was also a domestic side to Louis as well as a profound devotion to Catholicism; both of these aspects being more prominent towards the latter days of his life.

I learned so much from this fact-filled book! I highly recommend Louis XIV to anyone who is interested in learning more about this great King, his Court, his Ladies, and all that he influenced throughout history. This historical read surpassed all expectations. Excellent!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Le Jeudi de Josephine: A Lady's Sonnet

This Jeudi, I’m posting a beautiful sonnet for the Empress Josephine. I found it on this site (Famous Women: Sacred and Profane by Glen Levin Swiggett); where you’ll find a sonnet written for every great woman in history. There’s also one written on Marie Antoinette that I think is just so perfect. I have to say that although I’m fascinated by Josephine, I also adore Marie Antoinette, la Reine Martyre.

Here is the one for Josephine:

Letizia, mother of Napoleon,
So dearly known to him as Madame mère
And to the world for her maternal care
Of him at Elba, for herself has won
Affection greater than we shower upon
His Empress whose great beauty did not spare
Her, nor her tact, when he at last did dare
Divorce and exile her to Malmaison.
Napoleon's wish to found a dynasty
Far greater than his land had ever known,
To kings and princes of the Church and State
Related disavowed her for sterility,
Though in her former children she had shown
Such gifts as did him highly fascinate.
And, for Marie Antoinette
A king of France once said, I am the State;
And with this thought so lived he paved the way
For revolution at a later day,
When of French queens the most unfortunate,
Marie of Austria, that sorry fate
Endured from frenzied populace, a prey
To passions, dead to pity, that would slay,
Their baser humors to propitiate.
Marie was but a child when as a bride
She came to France, becoming soon a queen.
Caught in the current of intrigue and war,
And, with her husband, helpless in the tide
Of hate, she bravely faced the guillotine
When came her turn to ride the fatal car.

And this one for Marie Antoinette:

A king of France once said, I am the State;
And with this thought so lived he paved the way
For revolution at a later day,
When of French queens the most unfortunate,
Marie of Austria, that sorry fate
Endured from frenzied populace, a prey
To passions, dead to pity, that would slay,
Their baser humors to propitiate.

Marie was but a child when as a bride
She came to France, becoming soon a queen.
Caught in the current of intrigue and war,
And, with her husband, helpless in the tide
Of hate, she bravely faced the guillotine
When came her turn to ride the fatal car.

Painting: http://www.translating-william-shakespeare.com/image-files/sonnet_mulready.gif

Monday, June 8, 2009

Venice...of Decadence and Redemption

Today I was inspired to write about a different kind of beauty pertaining to Venice; the breathtakingly splendid beauty of its Churches and Cathedrals.

Throughout history, this great city where blissful pleasures of the senses were either decadent or sublime, laid the foundation of great spiritual sanctuaries where people turned to find peace, forgiveness or direction. All that you see and breathe in Venice is historical- a constant and abundant reminder of a time when La Serenissima was the heart and center of Europe.

I remember being about ten years old and walking the ‘calle’ of Venice with my uncle when I asked him why there were so many churches in Venice- literally one at every corner or so. I remember his wink and his answer as though it were yesterday:

Venice was once a place where sinners found their ‘paradise’ and so, churches were built in consequence...so many sinners- so many churches.”

I was intrigued by that resonse and never quite understood it until I began studying Venice's history.

Sometimes the magnetic power of extreme beauty can pull man either way, resulting in a struggle. Ultimately though, I believe that in every soul is the goal for inner peace, harmony and love for all…

Rather than posting about the obvious grand Cathedrals that many of you already know about, here are some pictures of Venice’s earliest churches.

Venice’s oldest Church: San Giacomo di Rialto (San Giacometto) in the San Polo sector- built in 421

Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta also built in the 5th century and, Santa Fosca, which was built in the 11th century. The two are connected by a portico. They’re in Torcello.

Have a wonderfully peaceful day. Many blessings:)


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Le Jeudi de Joséphine: Yeyette et la Martinique...

Josephine -Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie was born in Martinique. Josephine is often mistaken as being first and foremost French, when she was in fact a Creole.

It was in this beautiful country where her family owned a sugar plantation, that Josephine acquired her smooth and sensuous ways. Yeyette, as she was often called, claimed that her innate calmness and composure, with a blend of the wild, was naturally due to her island upbringing (but also included some quite passionate outbreaks). La Martinique; a place where beauty and serenity were a way of life...

This is also the place where the prophecy that she 'would one day be Queen' was revealed to her.

Here is a picture of Josephine’s house, where she grew up in Martinique. It’s now a museum.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Historical Flavor of the Week: Madame De Maintenon

Madame De Maintenon (November 27, 1635- April 15,1719)

How did this lady who was literally raised in the staunchest of poverty, come to be Louis XIV’s secret wife?

Bit of background:

Françoise d'Aubigné, at the age of fifteen, was sent to Paris to be entrusted to the Ursuline nuns for her upbringing. In Paris, a year later, she was married off to Paul Scarron a 41 year-old (burlesque poet in his youth) whose body had become severely deformed and paralyzed due to rheumatoid arthritis. Nonetheless, Scarron managed to get himself appointed at the Court of Anne of Austria as a jester. He loved Francoise dearly and taught her many languages and even helped her open up her own salon. That was the extent of his money lending though, as he spent every last penny searching for a cure to his illness. Eight years later Francoise was left a penniless widow.
Anne of Austria took pity on her when she saw that Francoise was a widow in dire need and decided to give her an annual pension.

So, finally, how did this lady who seemed to have been struck with constant misfortune attract the eye of the Sun King?

Word of mouth spread that she would be perfect to be governess of Louis’ children by Montespan. Disturbed by the nature of Louis’ relationship with Montespan, Francoise initially seeked counsel from her confessor who quickly advised her that whatever the King wished for, was approved by God (even an adultress liaison). From that point on, as long as it was Ok in God’s eyes, Francoise became a dutiful governess filled with a sense of loyalty to the King. Consequently, Louis bestowed her with the title of Marquise de Maintenon , after her estate.

Francoise was a virtuous woman of duty, though ‘rather cold’, she was dedicated to her work and terrified by the wrath of God. Louis became attracted to this woman who fascinated him with her stories of youth, the way she brought up the children, her religious ardor, sense of order and judicious advice. When he finally broke off all ties with Montespan, it was Francoise who urged him to be faithful and loving to the Queen. In her clear, yet subtle ways, she convinced him to follow a more correct and virtuous path by staying with the Queen and remaining faithful to her. Somehow Louis was convinced; resulting in probably the best last few years of the Queen’s life. For this, the Queen was forever grateful to De Maintenon.

After the Queen’s death, Louis became more and more drawn to Madame de Maintenon, until he fell deeply in love with her. At this point Louis found her irresistible and due to his Bourbon temperament, made every attempt to ‘conquer’ her. This is where Francoise was different from all the rest: She made sure to decline his invite since sleeping with a man other than one’s husband, even a King, was to her most sinful.

In 1684 (this is an approximate date deducted by Maintenon’s own letters), a morganatic marriage took place. Louis and Francoise were secretly married (He was 45 and she 48). This was never publicly announced and although there was constant speculation in the King’s court, noone could say for sure.

She became a source of sage wisdom for the King, who respected her opinion in many ways. Madame de Maintenon did not always agree with the ways of the court. Although Louis did not make such a big deal about flamboyant behaviours of others, Madame de Maintenon frowned upon much that was going on around her at court. She was extremely prudish and would find even the Opera a sinful form of art. She did not particularly like to attend this event, even though this was Louis’ favourite form of entertainment. Fortunately the King had mellowed with age and his love for the lady helped overcome their obvious differences.

Her letters apparently reveal that she was most happy in her marriage with Louis. The couple remained together until the end. As for the King; ‘the woman that Louis most loved and respected was Francoise d’Aubigny, Madame de Maintenon.’

Madame de Maintenon and Louis XIV


Tuesday, June 2, 2009


This Teaser Tuesday came my way courtesy of The Burton Review.

is hosted by ShouldBeReading and asks you to:
♠Grab your current read.
♠Let the book fall open to a random page.
♠Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
♠You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
♠Please avoid spoilers!

My Enemy the Queen, by Victoria Holt (another Jean Plaidy pen name)

‘“We must hope that none of them produce a black calf,” Walter told me, and when I wanted to know why he explained: “ There’s a legend in the family. If a black cat appears that means there will be a death in the family.”’

I didn’t get to this part yet…so I’m quite curious about what's happening here.

My Enemy The Queen is the book that we’ve chosen to read for this month of June at our Plaidy’s Royal Intrigue blog. If anyone has this book and would love to join our group, just come by and drop us a line. The more the merrier!