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Mysteries


Strange quirks of history
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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…

RASPUTIN

Rasputin was this Russian monk who, having been introduced to the last emperor Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, proved to be the only one capable of calming the terrible haemophiliac episodes of the heir Grand-Duke, the young Alexis. This allowed him to gain absolute control over the parents of the unfortunate child, to…

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…

THE FAKE ANASTASIA ( Part 2)

The audience was restricted: Dorothy and I, her brother, Mr. Benjamin and the Cannon couple. The room to which we were shown had all the usual accessories: a water basin, a guitar, aluminium trumpets. We turned off the lights and almost immediately the medium fell into a trance. In total darkness, we heard quiet rustling…

THE FAKE ANASTASIA

Since the discovery of DNA, there is no more Anastasia mystery, as it was immediately proven, without a shadow of a doubt, that Mrs Anderson ¬who pretended to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of Nicholas II, survivor of the Yekaterinburg massacre – had nothing to do with her. Long before the war, my…

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…

A Shadowy Affair (part 2)

I felt the cloud thicken. I felt that I had fallen victim to a disease – at the time there so many about which we knew nothing. So the conviction was born inside me that I was to die young. All this is an image, you understand, but I imagined finding myself in the middle…

“A Shadowy Affair” ( Part 1)

Castle Beaumont La Ronce “This is my best friend’s parents’ castle,” my lovely little niece, Adelaide, told me, “It is haunted by a great lady who was murdered over questions of money. Those who were arrested and executed for the crime were, however, innocent and the true assassins were allowed to escape for they had…

Pont_d'Iéna_Bridge-Paris Bridge

Louis XVIII and Jena Bridge

Louis XVIII had a feel for France whatever regime it was ruled by. In the Paris occupied by the forces of the coalition, the place names, the avenues, and the bridges served as a constant reminder to the occupying forces of their defeats. L’Avenue d’Austerlitz, l’Avenue de Wagram, and above all the Jena Bridge, reminded…

THE FALSE REMAINS OF LOUIS XVI

One of the mysteries I recently uncovered has to do with how the Revolution would dispose of its victims, all these princes and dukes, these women, these young people. Until now, I believed that they would be thrown into mass graves and that their bodies would be doused in quicklime to render them unrecognizable. Apparently…