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Tragedies


Strange quirks of history

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 LADY OF THE HOHENZOLLERN

In July 1857, King Frederick William IV of Prussia and his queen were on their way to the springs of Marienbad when they stopped in Saxony to visit the king and queen who were not only cousins but friends. At that time, the Saxony Court was at the summer residence of Pillnitz Castle where the…

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…

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…

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…

THE DISFIGURED THIEF

It was 19th century Greece during King Otto of Bavaria’s reign. An elusive thief named Christos Davelis was ravaging the area of Mount Pentecliicus around north Athens. Word also had it that he was very handsome: so much so that he may well have seduced the Duchess of Plaisance. Sophie de Marbois was Lebrun’s widow,…

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….