The year was 1581

Okay, one of the Ivans was truly terrible. But he had a pretty authentic reason to be. When Ivan, the Grand Duke of Moscow, was three and his little brother Yuri, a deaf mute, was two, their father, Czar Vasily III, died. Their mother acted as regent for the babies, but when Ivan was seven,…

The Year was 1492

No one died from gout – the Disease of Kings. So the doctor was not particularly worried about his patient, Lorenzo de’ Medici, called Lorenzo the Magnificent, one of the richest men in the world. But because Lorenzo was suffering from a pretty bad episode, the doctor changed the treatment. To the usual ground-up pearls,…

The year was 1356

In a stunning, shocking defeat, the French king, John II, was captured on September 19th during the Battle of Poitiers, fought southwest of Paris. He was taken to London, a prisoner – except that King John’s jailor, the king of England, was John’s very own uncle.  And the knight who had beaten him in the…

The year was 455

If you are going to call for help, be careful whom you call! In 440 A.D. or so, as a means of keeping peace with the Vandals, Roman Emperor Theodosius II betrothed his five-year-old daughter, Eudocia, to Huneric, the son of Gaiseric, king of the Vandals. When Eudocia was 16 (and still not married), her…

The year was 1593

Some called Grace O’Malley a pirate. Even as a young girl, Grace O’Malley wanted to be part of the action. In Ireland, this was pretty normal, but her father said no. Her gorgeous long red hair, he said, would get caught in the rigging of the sails. Grace cut her hair and joined the family…

The year was 1904

What Czar Nicholas desperately needed was a son. Czarina Alexandra quickly gave birth to five daughters, all healthy. Finally, on Aug. 12, 1904, a son arrived. Baby Alexei seemed healthy, but when he was six weeks old, he began bleeding through his naval. The blood could not be stopped. The horrible truth – hemophilia! This…

The Year was 1193

Philip’s new bride, 18-year-old Princess Ingeborg of Denmark, was described as having a good heart. That might have been a clue to what happened next. The 15th of August was the royal wedding day. The widowed Phillip II of France, 28, was marrying for the second time. His first wife, the tall (5’9”), lovely Princess…

The year was 1048 [or so]

Young Matilda of Flanders was royalty. And a spoiled brat. Plus she was descended from Charlemagne. Her grandfather had been king of France and now, her uncle was. With thick blond hair braided down her back and blue eyes, she was a beauty. There was no question, Matilda would make a good marriage…if she would…

The year was 1495

On the Italian peninsula, the French armies were marching steadily south on their way to seize Naples and claim it for the French crown. They thought it was rightfully theirs. With them was the French king, 24-year-old Charles VIII. Although he had been king since he was 13, Charles was uneducated and barely able to…

The year was 1543

Catherine de’ Medici was feared by the French people because she was Italian, and disliked by them because she had no royal blood. Indeed, her own husband, King Henri, was not all that fond of her. He was in love with his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, who, amazingly, was 20 years older than he was….