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Mysteries


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…

MURDER AT ST. JAMES’S PALACE III

“Sellis’ torso was propped against the back of his bed, his head practically detached from his body. His sheets and nightshirt were bloodied. Precisely as you saw earlier, except he appeared to you standing upright while the footmen found the poor man on his bed. The guard sergeant immediately noticed that an open, bloodied razorblade…

MURDER AT ST. JAMES’S PALACE II

Born in 1771, Prince Ernest Augustus of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Cumberland, was 39 years old. The son of King George III and Queen Charlotte of England, he was, like all the princes of the reigning Hanoverian dynasty, blond, tall, burly, and red-faced. One-eyed, he sheltered his gaze under bushy eyebrows. His beloved,…

MURDER AT ST. JAMES’S PALACE I

It was thanks to Henry VIII that the monarchy settled at St. James’s, where it continues to reside, at least fictitiously, for to this day, the decrees of Queen Elizabeth II bear the words, “Given at our Court of St. James’s”. Over the centuries, Henry VIII’s palace has been reduced, half destroyed by fires, and…

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…

KIZKALESI CASTLE

Many years ago, while travelling along the southern coast of Turkey, I stopped in the ancient village of Silifke, the Seleucia of Antiquity. Across it, in the middle of the sea, stood the towers of an imposing medieval castle that seemed to emerge from the water. Legend has it that in memorial times, be it…

RUMI

Later, much later, I discovered Rumi. He became my hero because he represented an Islam vastly different from the Islam we are presented with these days. He was born in Afghanistan, in the city of Balkh, in the 13th century. His father was already a great mystic. One day, he took to the pulpit of…

THE TRAGIC WRITER

It has been a long time since I read “The Manuscript Found in Saragossa”, and yet I haven’t forgotten it. This novel, published at the turn of the 19th century, is a mixture of eccentricity, poeticism, and suspense. Written with a master’s hand, it is gripping; it cannot be put down, it is a truly…

PATMOS – THE CORPSE IN A BASKET

I did not stay long at that Patmonian cocktail party. I was bored, but mostly I didn’t like the house. It was beautiful; old and tastefully decorated, adorned with charming objects, and surrounded by an enchanting garden. And yet, I felt uneasy there. I returned home to find Maria still in the kitchen. I told…