Monarch Series: Empress Dowager Cixi

Fact File


  • Name: Empress Dowager Cixi
  • DOB: 29th November 1835
  • DOD: 15th November 1908
  • Reign: 1861-1908 China – Qing dynasty


Rise to Royalty

At just 16 Cixi was chosen to become a concubine for Emperor Xianfeng. She started as a third-grade concubine but rose to secondary consort to the Emperor after the son she bore him turned one – she was the only concubine that bore him a male heir. At the age of thirty, Emperor Xianfeng died and Cixi’s five year old son became Emperor Tongzhi.

On his deathbed, Xianfeng had set up an eight-man regency group to rule China after his death. It is believed this is due to his mistrust of Cixi and his belief that she would meddle in affairs of state. If this is true, he had every right to be wary. Continue reading “Monarch Series: Empress Dowager Cixi”

Monarch Series: Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great was born the daughter of a German Prince on 2nd May 1729 and died in 1796 as the Empress of Russia. Catherine’s reign is often referred to as the Golden Age of Russia as she successfully expanded her borders, maintained friendly relations with Europe’s leading powers, encouraged Enlightened thinkers and won strategic battles. Many believe the myth that she died during an intimate moment with a horse which stems from her active sex life,yet she did far more for Russia than produce court gossip…

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Monarch Series: Isabella of Castile

Inspired by my b.e.a.u.tiful Rifle Paper & Co desk calendar, I will be dedicating a post every month to one of the fabulous female leaders portrayed in said calendar. Some posts may be a list of facts, others myth busting or perhaps even an article about their life/achievements. I’m not too sure at the moment, I’ll have to see how each ruler strikes me! I may even throw some male rulers in too, just to spice things up a bit! Anyway, watch this space.

This month is dedicated to the formidable Isabella of Castile, who held the Crown of Castile from 1474 – 1504. Mother of the famous Katherine of Aragon and one half of the Spanish Catholic Kings, Isabella is known for reviving and uniting Spain after her brother and predecessor depleted its coffers.

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Four Days and Counting….

Wednesday 21st January 2015, 9pm, BBC 2: What will you be doing?

The highly anticipated BBC dramatisation of Hilary Mantel’s awarding winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies is hitting our screens in just four days. Excited? You should be. With Damian Lewis portraying a pre-tyrannical King Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as the protagonist Thomas Cromwell, it is bound to be incredible. The stellar cast has already proved that this portrayal of Tudor England will be dark and full of drama in the trailers.

Focussing on Cromwell and viewing the period from his point of view is an interesting take on the politics of the time. I for one can’t wait to see how these excellent books have been translated onto the screen.

Wolf Hall will start on Wednesday 21st January, BBC2 at 9pm, UK.

Let me know what you think!

Remember Remember the 5th of November

November. Synonymous with frosty mornings; bonfires, sparklers, fireworks, mittens and the rhyme ‘remember remember the 5th of November…’ But do we know the rest of it?

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31st October 1517: Martin Luther and the birth of the Reformation

Today in 1517, Wittenburg, Saxony, Martin Luther nailed his ‘Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences’ (also known as his 95 Theses) on the door of All Saints’ Church.

Although this may not seem to be a monumental act, it proved to have a huge impact on the religious, cultural and political traditions of Europe. For many, this event serves as the initial catalyst for the Protestant Reformation.

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Factional Politics or Individual Ambition? Anne Boleyn vs. Thomas Wolsey

In the four-hundred and seventy eight years since the death of Anne Boleyn historians are

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still unable to achieve unanimity over certain aspects of her life. From her controversial love affair with the King of England to her contentious involvement in the fall of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. Anne’s role in the early stages of Henry VIII’s Great Matter still generates heated debate. In a period where the king cradled doubts over the validity of his marriage, Anne is often depicted in two contrasting ways: she is described as either a devious temptress that seduced the king or a meek, obedient victim of factional politics. Thomas Wolsey’s dramatic fall from grace during the period of Anne’s rise in Henry VIII’s esteem is particularly interesting. It serves as an example that Anne’s role within the Henrican court during this time was not so clear cut.

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