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Ghosts


Strange quirks of history

TELČ

Unlike the facetious Countess Caroline Goess, the White Lady of Telč thought only of doing good. She had the unusual name Perchta. She had married a count of Liechtenstein, a namesake but entirely unrelated to the principality. He was a wicked, brutal man whose odious methods often forced her to seek refuge at her brother’s…

THE DWARF OF GRAZZANO PART 2

One winter morning, it was freezing in the Grazzano library where the infamous séance took place. The seance that had, in a sense, resurrected Aloysa. The ghost took some time to show itself. Amazingly, there was nothing dwarf-like about it. On the contrary, the precisely contoured silhouette in the door was that of a tall…

THE DWARF OF GRAZZANO PART 1

“Spirit, are you there?” asked Count Giuseppe. They were six or seven seated at the round table in the library at Grazzano, the enormous castle next to Piacenza.  The room where time seemed to have stopped had been left in darkness, and nothing disturbed the thick silence They were anxious, tense, and fixated on the…

THE DEAD PRINCESS ON THE BALCONY

While he was heir apparent, holding the title of Prince of Naples, the future King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy was sent off to attend military studies in Naples. It was there, upon going out into the world, that he met a beautiful young woman, the princess M. It is he who tells this story….

THE WHITE WITCH OF ROSE HALL

Rose Hall is the most famous manor (in Europe, you would call it a castle) in Jamaica. It was built in 1770, cost thirty thousand pounds – an incredible amount at the time! – and was considered the most beautiful residence on the island.  Rose Hall was damaged during the slave revolt in 1831, to…

SAVONAROLA AND THE INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION

It was 1992. Spain had organised, at great expense, a splendid international exhibition in Seville to celebrate the 500th anniversary of its discovery of the Americas. All over the city, a multitude of demonstrations, exhibitions, and performances took place. We requested, in particular, to visit an exhibition that brought together works of art, paintings, furniture,…

Marie de baviere reine de saxe.

THE BLACK LADY AND THE KING OF SAXONY

In 1854, an epidemic erupted in Saxony that would quickly ravage the country as it had ravaged its neighbours’’. The royal family, led by Queen Maria, a princess of Bavaria, fled Dresden to seek refuge in the capital at the Castle of Pillnitz. The Queen only agreed to leave Dresden on the condition that her…

THE ABBOT’S GHOST

On that Easter Sunday, in the Cotentin Peninsula’s little village of Blanchelande, the church was crammed full. Aristocrats, farmers, and the bourgeoisie were all present on that sacred day. At the appointed hour, the clergy entered in procession, followed by the children of the choir carrying their candles and the cross, the priests of neighboring…

THE TALISMAN OF POPE BORGIA

  I have always had a weak spot for Pope Alexandre VI Borgia. History has smeared his name with horrid deeds; but I suspect that such a campaign was led in part by protestant propaganda. I had shared this theory with my youngest daughter Olga who was given zero for writing it in her homework….

THE MUSIC-LOVING GHOST

On a Paris-Krakow flight, I ran into one of my favourite cousins, Crista. I asked her where she is going. Her husband, she told me, is a graduate of ESCI, the Business school in Fontainebleau. The students in his class had decided to go on a trip to Poland with their wives, the highlight of…