• fr
  • en

Ghosts


Strange quirks of history

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…

THE JOKESTER GHOST OF TAOS

  About twenty years ago, we visited the very beautiful city of Taos in New Mexico. We stayed at Luan House, which had been turned into a hotel. It was a magnificent villa built in the regional style popular during the 1920s and 1930s by an American art patron millionaire, Mabel Dodge. Everyone of any…

THE MAGICIAN’S CHAMBERMAID

  Over twenty years ago, Marshal Alan Brooke’s descendants invited me to their castle in Northern Ireland. Theirs was a courageous and enterprising household; they had decided to restore the family domain and open it to the public. They were endearing, welcoming, intelligent and warm. The surprising thing is that I cannot remember the name…

hampton-court-front-castle- England-HenriVIII-Cardinal Wolsey-Prince Michael Chronicles.com

THE SOUND AND LIGHT OF CARDINAL WOLSEY

Hampton Court is by far one of the most beautiful English royal palaces. The greater part of it was built during the 17th century by the royal couple William and Mary. The English baroque style offers a majestic splendour, truly royal facades, balance, and an extraordinary harmony, but the origins of this sumptuous castle are…

THE GHOST OF THE LAST TSAR

While I was writing my book on Russian Imperial Palaces, we dined, my editor and I, in Saint Petersburg with a handful of curators from the Hermitage. As always, a Russian-style diner, very joyful with lots of drinking, and, also in Russian-style, the conversation soon fell onto one of their favourite subject: ghosts. And so…

A Shadowy Affair ( final part)

I found the Marquis and the Marquise, cheerful and welcoming, in an 18th century living room on the ground floor in which were hung beautiful, family portraits. I hastened to accept the port and the cheese sticks that were offered me. It seemed, at least, that the ghost had not managed to leave his mark…