on February 7th 2006
Genres: History, Nonfiction
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Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is the powerful epic story of five royal granddaughters of Queen Victoria, who reigned over the end of their empires, the destruction of their families, and the tumult of the twentieth centuryHere are the stories of Alexandra, whose faith in Rasputin and tragic end have become the stuff of legend; Marie, the flamboyant and eccentric queen who battled her way through a life of intrigues and was also the mother of two Balkan queens and of the scandalous Carol II of Romania; Victoria Eugenie, Spain's very English queen who, like Alexandra, introduced hemophilia into her husband's family---with devastating consequences for her marriage; Maud, King Edward VII's daughter, who was independent Norway's reluctant queen; and Sophie, Kaiser Wilhelm II's much maligned sister, daughter of an emperor and herself the mother of no less than three kings and a queen, who ended her days in bitter exile.Using never before published letters, memoirs, diplomatic documents, secondary sources, and interviews with descendents of the subjects, Julia Gelardi's Born to Rule is an astonishing and memorable work of popular history.
I love women’s history so I was excited hear about this book. I was only familiar with Tsarina Alexandra before reading it.
All of these women spent a lot of time in their childhood in England with their grandmother, Queen Victoria. Each of them learned from her what it meant to be a monarch. They tried to follow her example in a changing world – sometimes to their detriment.
Marie Alexandra Victoria (Missy) was born to an English Duke and a Russian Grand Dutchess in England. She married Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania. During World War I she worked as a nurse and then was a negotiator for her country with the Allied Powers to gain land for Romania. Men loved her. She always had new admirers. Her son King Carol II was a horrible human being who seemed to delight in tormenting his family by banishing them from Romania and contact with each other.
Alix Victoria Helena Louise Beatrice of Hesse was born in Germany to Princess Alice of Great Britain and Louis, Grand Duke of Hesse. After a long and determined courtship, Nicholas of Russia got her to agree to marry him. They had a happy marriage but they weren’t great leaders. She was very shy and was thought to be arrogant by the people in the court who she avoided for being fake. Her entire family was killed in 1918.
Sophia Dorothea Ulrica Alice (Sophie) was born in Germany to Victoria, Princess Royal of Great Britain and the future Emperor Frederick III. She married Constantine of Greece against the will of her brother, Kaiser Wilhelm. He hated her and worked against her but the fact that she was related to the Kaiser was held against her in Greece during World War I. She was thought to be a spy. The Greek royal family was exiled and then returned several times.
Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria was born in London and was the youngest child of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark. She didn’t want to be a queen and happily married Prince Charles of Denmark who was not going to become King of Denmark. However, when Norway gained independence from Sweden they chose to have a King and selected Charles who took the name Haakon VII. She probably had the happiest life because no one was trying to kill them or overthrow them.
Victoria Eugenie (Ena) was born in Scotland to Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenberg. Princess Beatrice was Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter who was assigned to keep her mother company so Ena grew up with the Queen. She married Alfonso of Spain and survived her first assassination attempt on her wedding day. The marriage fell apart when two of the couple’s sons were born with hemophilia. Alfonso blamed her for infecting the royal line. The Spanish monarchy was exiled during her reign but she was instrumental in negotiating for the reinstatement of her grandson, King Juan Carlos.
This book was very confusing to me at first. Each of the women have their full birth names, their nicknames, and the names they take as Queen. The author uses the names interchangeably sometimes in the same paragraph. It took a while to figure out who was who. The book is written chronologically and all the girls stories are intermingled. There is a family tree at the front of the book that really helped.
It got easier to understand once they all got married and went to different countries. Then I could keep them straight.