Category Archives: Europe

July Challenge Day 2: TUDOR

Here’s my post followed by some early entries to the Creative Challenge, day two…

[Background image: Pembroke Castle; courtesy: Wikimedia]

[My contribution to the Creative Challenge… a logo for a BBC style documentary on the family. Background image: Pembroke Castle; courtesy: Wikimedia]

I’m not a Tudor expert. Other people with a lot more knowledge of British History have written volumes and volumes on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and the rest. Today’s blog doesn’t come close to telling the whole story of that family. But it is the birthday of Elizabeth Tudor, Henry the VIII’s little sister, so I thought I’d tell you a little bit about her.

English: Portrait of the Royal Tudors. At left...

English: Portrait of the Royal Tudors. At left, Henry VII, with Prince Arthur behind him, then Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), and Prince Edmund, who did not survive early childhood. To the right is Elizabeth of York, with Princess Margaret, then Princess Elizabeth who didn’t survive childhood, Princess Mary, and Princess Katherine, who died shortly after her birth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She was born in 1492, one year after Henry. Although she was just three years old when she died she was already a pawn in the marriage game the Tudors were so very “good” at playing. She was to be wed to Prince Francis. Had she lived she would have become Queen of France to his King Francis I. Alas the little girl died of atrophy in 1495.

Elizabeth spent much of her short life at the royal nursery of Eltham Palace, Kent, with her brother Prince Henry (the future King Henry VIII) and her sister Princess Margaret (later Queen of Scotland) under the guidance of a Lady Mistress, presided over by her mother. Elizabeth’s oldest brother, Prince Arthur, as heir to the throne, was brought up separately in his own household. [Find a]

Her death, she was the first of the children to die young –Edmund and Katherine would also die in infancy — effected the family greatly. Her parents spent a lavish amount of money on her funeral and tomb. And Margaret and Henry were devastated by the loss of their little sister and play mate. (He was only 4 at the time.)

A decade later Arthur, the eldest and heir, would die too. Here is Henry with his surviving sisters Margaret and Mary.

English: Erasmus of Rotterdam visiting the chi...

English: Erasmus of Rotterdam visiting the children of Henry VII at Eltham Palace in 1499 and presenting Prince Henry (the future Henry VIII.) with a written tribute. Detail of oil painting in the Prince’s chamber in Westminster Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Court was sure that Arthur’s widow, Katherine of Aragon, was not with child,  Henry was made Prince of Wales and the heir apparent.  He also became betrothed to Arthur’s widow Katherine of Aragon to maintain the political alliance of the marriage brought with Spain. (He was 15, she was 21).

Here's my chart showing the marriages and offspring of the Tudors

Here’s my chart showing the marriages and offspring of the Tudors.

Henry VIII is, of course the central figure in this chart — I supposed that happens when you have six wives and change the church of a nation — but there are eight other heads of states on there (not including poor Jane Grey). That’s a lot of power in one family.

His older sister, Margaret, was married off to James IV of Scotland. She was the grandmother of  Mary Queen of Scots.

English: A picture of Margaret Tudor from &quo...

English: A picture of Margaret Tudor from “Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth” Deutsch: Ein Porträt Margaret Tudors aus “Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His younger sister, Mary, was married first to Louis XII of France, a man 30 years her senior. He died two months later and Mary married Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, in a secret ceremony, and with out Henry’s consent.  She was the grandmother of Lady Jane Grey.

Mary Tudor, Queen of France and subsequently w...

Mary Tudor, Queen of France and subsequently wife of Charles Brandon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thanks to Bill and KL for playing along on the Creative challenge today… I like the way you think!

Please feel free to join them by commenting with your creative take on TUDOR or sending me an email.

Bill suggests a VW Beetle as our Tudor (or is it two door)…

[Image Courtesy:]

[Image Courtesy:]

KL sent in this gif for us. You have  to look closely at it to see why…


Liisa thought of a Tudor Rose — the rose that has red on the outside and a white center, the colors of the petals representing the joining of the York and Lancaster houses after the War of the Roses.

Tudor rose badge from the Pelican Portrait of ...

Tudor rose badge from the Pelican Portrait of Elizabeth I of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Anne Frank 6.13.13 Thought of the Day

Somehow I missed Anne Frank’s birthday yesterday. So I’m posting her bioBLOG today instead.


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”— Anne Frank

Anne Frank

Anne Frank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Annelies Marie Frank was born on June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Yesterday was the 84th anniversary of her birth.

Anne was the younger daughter of Otto and Edith Frank.  Otto Frank was a “lieutenant in the German Army during World War I who later became a businessman in Germany and the Netherlands..”[] Anne’s older sister Margot was three years her senior.

The Franks were upper middle-class German Jews. They lived in a diverse neighborhood. Anne went to school and played with children of various religions. But when the Nazis came to power  in Germany Otto Frank moved his family to Amsterdam.

Anne Frank started at the Montessori School in 1934, and throughout the rest of the 1930s she lived a relatively happy and normal childhood. Frank had many friends, Dutch and German, Jewish and Christian, and she was a bright and inquisitive student. [Ibid]

She particularly liked reading and writing, while Margot liked arithmetic. It was one of the many ways in which the sisters were dissimilar. Anne was outgoing, rambunctious and loud; Margot was reserved, well behaved and quiet.

Germany invased the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Anne later wrote about the invasion:

“After May 1940, the good times were few and far between; first there was the war, then the capitulation and then the arrival of the Germans, which is when the trouble started for the Jews.”

By October of 1940 Anti-Jewish laws were put into place. Anne and Margot had to leave their schools and attend the Jewish Lyceum.  The family had to sew the yellow Star of David on their clothing and had to follow a curfew. Otto Frank took measures to transfer his businesses to Gentile partners so the companies would not be liquidated.

For her birthday in 1942 Anne’s parents gave her a red and white checkered diary which she dubbed  “Kitty”. Less than a month later Margot was called up for service in a German work camp and the family went into hiding.

English: Reconstruction of the bookcase at the...

English: Reconstruction of the bookcase at the Anne Frank house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the next two years her family, along with Herman, Auguste and Peter Van Pels and Fritz Pfeffer, lived in the secret annex of one of Otto Frank’s former businesses. Anne…

wrote extensive daily entries in her diary. Some betrayed the depth of despair into which she occasionally sunk during day after day of confinement. “I’ve reached the point where I hardly care whether I live or die,” she wrote on February 3, 1944. “The world will keep on turning without me, and I can’t do anything to change events anyway.” However, the act of writing allowed Frank to maintain her sanity and her spirits. “When I write, I can shake off all my cares,” []

The Secret Annex was raided on August 4, 1944 and Anne, her family and the others hiding there were taken to  Camp WesterBork in Northeast Netherlands. On September 3rd, 1944 They were transferred to Auschwitz in Poland. That winter Anne and Margot were transferred to Bergen-Belsen. Both girls contracted typhus and died in March of 1945.

Otto Frank, the only one from the Annex to survive the Camps, returned to Amsterdam after the War. He found Anne’s diary and had selections from it published. It has since been published as a novel, a play and filmed for both television and the big screen.

And so it is that Anne Frank’s words live on 71 years after she began to scribble them down in a little red and white diary.

“Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

English: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Fra...

English: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank on display at the Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin, Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a terrific look inside Anne’s journey and life inside the Annex go HERE to The Secret Annex On Line

George III 6.4.13 Thought of the Day

“Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Britain.”–George III

King George III (in coronation robes)

King George III (in coronation robes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

George William Frederick was born on this date in Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, London, England in 1738 . Today is the 275th anniversary of his birth.

The eldest of two sons born to Frederick, Prince of Wales and August of Saxe-Gotha, George was born two months early. The Royal family feared he wouldn’t survive infancy and he was quickly baptized. A month later he was presented publicly and formally baptized into the Anglican Church.

He was educated along with his brother, Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany, by tutors. The boys learned to read and write English and German as well as the Romance Languages, Science, Math, History, Geography, Economics, Law, Music,  Dancing, Fencing, Riding and Sports.

 On his father’s death in 1751, the 12-year-old George became Prince of Wales. He was cared for in relative isolation by his mother and tutored by the Scottish nobleman Lord Bute. []

Nine years later he followed his grandfather to the Throne. Crowned in 1761 he reigned for 59 until his death in 1820. George III had the third longest reign of a British monarch (surpassed only by his granddaughter Victoria — 63 years — and the current queen — 61 years).

English: George III of the United Kingdom whil...

English: George III of the United Kingdom while Prince of Wales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Positive things that happened while he was king…

  •  Ended the Seven Year’s War
  •  Democracy increased during his reign
  •  Britain Defeated Napoleon
  •  Enhanced the Royal Academy of Arts
  •  Opened the King’s Library to researchers and academics.

Neutral things that happened while he was king…

  • Survived an assassination attempt by James Hadfield
  • Had a planet named after him (It was later renamed Uranus)

Negative things related to his reign…

  • Suffered from madness as early at 1788 and spent much of the last decade of his reign in a fog.

“certainly as early as 1788. By 1810 his madness—now thought perhaps to be the result of a congenital disease called porphyria—had completely taken over his mind, and he was judged unfit to rule during the final decade of his reign” [Home At]

’’’Coat of arms of the Hanoverian Princes of W...

’’’Coat of arms of the Hanoverian Princes of Wales’’’ used by George II, Frederick and George III. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward Elgar 6.2.13 Thought of the Day

“My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us, the world is full of it and you simply take as much as you require.”–Edward Elgar

Elgar in 1919, by William Rothenstein

Elgar in 1919, by William Rothenstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward William Elgar was born on this day in Broadheath, near Worcester, England in 1857.  Today is 156th anniversary of his birth.

He was the fourth child born to William and Ann Elgar. William Elgar ran a music shop and tuned pianos in Broadheath. A trained violinist, he taught all his children — The Elgars had a total of seven children — piano, violin and the basics of music theory. By  eight young Edward was tagging along with his father as William went to the richer houses of the county to tune their pianos. The little boy would play for the gentry while his father fixed the piano. He also started to compose at an early age.

It is a remarkable fact that Elgar was very largely self-taught as a composer – evidence of the strong determination behind his original and unique genius.[]

Although he wanted to go to Germany to study at the Leipzig Conservatory his family couldn’t afford it, so he  had no formal musical training. Instead, in 1872 he went to work as a clerk for a local solicitor.  He didn’t last long in the stifling office setting. He began to give lessons (piano and violin), sing in the town’s Glee Club, compose, conduct and play violin professionally. He became the conductor of the  County Lunatic Asylum (an unusual combination of instruments and talent levels) and worked with the Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen.

Slowly, and through such early works as Froissart(1890), the Imperial March (1897) and the cantatas King Olaf (1896) and Caractacus (1898), his reputation began to spread beyond the area immediately around his native Worcestershire. His first big success came with the Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma) in 1899. [Ibid]

In 1900 he was awarded a Doctorate by Cambridge. Four years later he was Knighted.

Eventually Elgar was feted all over the world; he dined with royalty, was knighted and awarded the Order of Merit.  Yet he never forgot his roots, and when he became a Baronet in1931, he chose as his title First Baronet of Broadheath. [Elgar]

Edward Elgar died on February 23, 1934.

It is graduation season here in the US, and nary a matriculation takes place with out the school’s orchestra pulling out Elgar’s most famous piece Pomp and Circumstance. (The part every one recognizes comes at about the 2 minute mark.)

But might I suggest a listen to his Sea Pictures, OP. 37 with Contralto Linda Finnie and The London Philharmonic

Or the fabulously layered Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major, Op. 55, Sir John Barbiolli conducting the Halle Orchestra

or his delightful Serenade for String Orchestra in E minor, Op. 20,  performed by the New Philharmonia Orchestra with Giuseppe Sinopoli  at the podium,

Pieter Neefs the Younger 5.22.13 Thought of the Day

Interior of a Cathedral

Interior of a Cathedral (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pieter Neefs, the Younger was born on this day in Antwerp, Belgium,  in 1620. Today is the  393rd anniversary of his birth.

Pieter  was one of five children born to Pieter Neefs the Elder and Maria Lauterbeens Neef.  Along with his brother, Ludovicus, he learned to paint from his father,  an established architectural painter. By 1640, when Pieter the Younger was 20 years old, he was working with his father and brother full-time, although he’d never gone through formal training or been registered at the guild hall.

Interior of a Church

Interior of a Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The subject of most of the Neefs paintings was the interiors of the great churches of Antwerp. The grand interiors of a church allowed the Neefs to explore both perspective and light in their detailed paintings.

Their most frequent subject was the interior of Antwerp Cathedral; the details of sculpture, altars and paintings vary in accuracy, and sometimes the subject seems to be very freely interpreted. The Neefs also liked to depict the effects of artificial illumination in crypt-like spaces (in the manner of Hendrick van Steenwijck the younger). [Sphinx Fine Art . com]

The artist worked together, often on the same subject, so it is sometimes difficult to tell where one Pieter’s work ends and the next Pieter’s work begins.

English: Interior of a Gothic Church

English: Interior of a Gothic Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Pieter Neefs the Younger’s work makes …

a more reserved impression; their colouring is smoother, and they are not as dark in the shadows, while their drawing is sharper. Solely working as architectural painters, they had the figures added to the finished works by colleagues. []

He died some time after 1675.

Interior of a Gothic Church

Interior of a Gothic Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jacob Riis 5.3.13 Thought of the Day

“Bad boys and bad girls are not born, but made…They are made bad by environment and training. The children must have room to play.” –-Jacob Riis

English: Jacob Riis, American journalist.

English: Jacob Riis, American journalist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jacob August Riis was born on this day in Ribe, Denmark, on 3rd May, 1849. Today is the 164th anniversary of his birth.

Jacob was the third of fifteen children born to Niels and Carolina Riis.  His father was a schoolteacher who occasionally wrote for a local newspaper. Jacob read as much as he could. He tried to sharpen his English skills by reading James Fenimore Cooper and Charles Dickens.

Although Niels had hopes of his eldest son becoming a writer, Jacob wanted to be a carpenter. After completing his apprenticeship in Copenhagen Riis returned to Ribe but found it difficult to find a job. So, in 1870, with help from some friends he decided to emigrate to America.

The job market in America was no better than it was in Copenhagen. Riis lived hand to mouth (at best) spending his nights at police station lodging houses, in a graveyard, and when he could afford it in one of New York’s overcrowded, dark, airless, tenements.  He took on any  odd job he could find from day laborer, to farmhand, to bricklayer, and, occasionally as carpenter or writer.  When his money ran out he begged, scavenged, ate handouts from restaurants and stole fallen apples from orchards.

France had declared war on Germany in 1870 (the Franco–Prussian War) and he wanted to volunteer for the French side to avenge earlier Prussian aggression  in Denmark. But he was never able to hook up with a group traveling back to Europe to fight.

“After three years of doing odd jobs, Riis landed a job as a police reporter with the New York Evening Sun. He worked in the poorest, most crime – ridden areas of the city. These were generally neighborhoods where immigrants lived in deplorable tenement houses” [Gateway NPS.Gov]

He developed a writing style that was expressive, dramatic and to the point.

“Aware of what it was like to live in poverty, Riis was determined to use this opportunity to employ his journalistic skills to communicate this to the public. He constantly argued that the “poor were the victims rather than the makers of their fate”.” [Spartacus Educational]

although his writing was raising awareness of the plight of the poor,  he didn’t think it went far enough in illustrating  the dire conditions of the slums of New York. He needed to SHOW the upper and middle class what was going on in the tenements. His first attempt was through sketching, but he quickly realized he didn’t have the artistic skills  for that, so he switched to photography.

English: "Bandit's Roost, 1890, New York ...

English: “Bandit’s Roost, 1890, New York City.” Photograph by Jacob Riis, featured in his book How the Other Half Lives (1890) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He embraced the use of flash powder photography and brought his camera into the dark tenement buildings and the alleys at night.

“He began to bring a camera with him to document what he found in these neighborhoods, and the conditions in which these people lived. For this, Riis is considered to be one of the fathers of modern photojournalism. “ [Gateway NPS.Gov]

He partnered with W.L. Craig and went on a Magic Lantern tour with the photographs. During his lectures he pointed out that in Dicken’s London there were 175,00 plus people per square mile, while in the Lower East Side there were 290,000 plus people per square mile.”making it perhaps the worst slum in the history of the Western world.” [Spartacus Educational]

The lecture tours lead to a an article in the 1889 Christmas edition of Scribner’s Magazine. The 18 page article, titled “How the Other Half Lives” turned into a book by the same name, published in 1890.

“His book How the Other Half Lives inspired then police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt to close the police lodging houses. It also brought about many needed reforms in housing laws. So important was Riis’s work, that Roosevelt called him “New York’s most useful citizen.” [Gateway NPS.Gov]

Riis spent the rest of his life advocating for the poor. He went on to write over a dozen books, noteably:

  • Children of the Poor (1892)
  • Out of Mulberry Street (1898)
  • The Making of An American (1901)
  • The Battle With the Slum (1902)
  • Children of the Tenement (1903).

Riis died on May 26, 1914. Seaside Park in Rockaway, New York  was renamed “Jacob Riis Park” in his honor.

"Minding Baby" [Image Courtesy: The Old Photo Album]

“Minding Baby” [Image Courtesy: The Old Photo Album]


A nod of thanks to my fabulous hubby who pointed out Riis as a possible Thought of the Day candidate. Good pick, hon.

Queen Juliana 4.30.13 Thought of the Day

“It must be wonderful sport to contradict each other.” — Queen Juliana

Juliana in 1933. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Juliana in 1933. [Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina was born on this day in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1909. Today is the 104th anniversary of her birth.

She is the only child of Queen Wilhelmina and Duke Henry of the House of Orange-Nassau. As a child she lived at the HetLoo, Noordeine and the Huis ten Bosch Palaces. A class room was built in the palace, and Juliana and three other royal children were educated there.

Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana

Queen Wilhelmina & Juliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At 18 she was named Council of State.

She attended the University of Leiden where she studied international law. She graduated three years later in 1930.

She met her husband to be, a German, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld at the 1936 Winter Olympics. Bernhard became a Dutch citizen, changed his name to Bernard, and the couple were married on January 7, 1937.

Princess Juliana on her wedding day (January 7...

Princess Juliana on her wedding day (January 7, 1937) (Photo credit: Empoor)

They had two daughters with in two years, Princess Beatrix in January of 1938 and Princess Irene in 1939.

As World War II loomed and Germany invaded the Netherlands (on May 12, 1940) the Royal family left the country for England. Bernard and Queen Wilhelmina stayed in Great Britain — the official Dutch Government in exile, Juliana and the children went to Ottawa,Canada. There she had her third daughter Margriet in 1943.

She returned to the Netherlands in August of 1945. As president of the Dutch Red Cross she worked tirelessly to help with post-war relief.

English: Standard of the Princesses of the Net...

English: Standard of the Princesses of the Netherlands – Daughters of Queen Juliana. Nederlands: Prinses Margiet, Prinses Irene, Prinses Christina vlag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She had her last child, Marijke Christina in 1947. Juliana had contracted German measles during the pregnancy and the baby was partially blind when born.

Queen Wilhelmina abdicated the throne to Juliana on September 6, 1948.  One of Juliana’s first acts as queen was to recognise Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, as a sovereign country.

Queen Juliana related to the every day Dutch people on many levels. She dressed  like an ordinary Dutch woman, rode a bicycle (a Dutch obsession) and prefered to be addressed as Mrs as opposed to Majesty.

Juliana showed her metal  in 1953 when a 100 year storm ravished the country. It flooded towns, killedtwo thousand and stranded thousands more. She pulled on her boots and an old coat and toured the effected area, comforting the victims of the disaster.

On her 71st birthday, Queen Juliana abdicated the throne to her eldest daughter Beatrix.  For a decade and a half after her abdication she was active throughout the country in charitable activities, but by 1995 her health began to fail. Juliana had Alzheimer’s and became more and more reclusive.  She died in her sleep  on Marcy 20, 2004. She had been suffering from pneumonia.

English: Statue of Juliana of the Netherlands ...

English: Statue of Juliana of the Netherlands and het husband Bernhard zur Lippe-Biesterfeld in the garden of Soestdijk Palace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, April 30, 2013, Queen’s Day,  her daughter Queen Beatrix abdicated to her eldest son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

King of the Netherlands

King of the Netherlands (Photo credit: HereIsTom)

Lucrezia Borgia 4.18.13 Thought of the Day

“If people knew the reasons for my fears, they would Be able to understand my pain.” — Lucrezia Borgia

Italiano: Lucrezia Borgia ritratta nella "...

Italiano: Lucrezia Borgia ritratta nella “Disputa di Santa Caterina” dell’Appartamento Borgia, nella Sala dei Santi in Vaticano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lucrezia Borgia  was born on this day in Subiaco, near Rome, Italy in 1480. Today is the 533rd anniversary of her birth.

Lucrezia  was the daughter of the powerful Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia and his mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, and younger sister of Cesare and Giovanni Borgia.  When she was a toddler her father took the children away from their mother and sent them to live with his cousin, Adriana de Mila. The Cardinal took an active role in raising the children, making sure they were well-educated and properly brought up. He doted on pretty Lucrezia.

“Lucrezia was educated according to the usual curriculum of Renaissance ladies of rank, and was taught languages, music, embroidery, painting, etc…” [NNDB] She studied poetry and read the classics. She could converse in Latin, Italian, French and Greek. She was also a beauty. Her long blond hair, flawless complexion, hazel eyes and graceful stature were all the fashion in Renaissance Italy.

By eleven she was betrothed to a Spanish nobleman, Don Cherubin do Centelles, but that brokered arrangement was broken for a more advantageous one, with another Spaniard, Don Gasparo de Procida. Before the two could marry Cardinal Borgia became Pope Alexander VI, and  “he annulled the union with Procida; in February 1493 Lucrezia was betrothed to Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro.” (Ibid)

Portrait of Pope Alexander VI. Painting locate...

Portrait of Pope Alexander VI. Painting located at Corridoio Vasariano (museum) in Florence (Firenze), Italy. Measures of painting: 59 x 44 cm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This time Lucrezia, at 13,  did walk down the aisle. Sforza was 15 years older than the girl and it was hardly a match made in heaven. So when the political winds shifted and the Pope wanted to annul the marriage his daughter didn’t object. But Sforza did. Alexander claimed the reason for the annulment was Sforza’s impotency, a charge the Lord of Pesaro vehemently denied — and offered to prove in front of anyone who cared to act as witness. He countered that Alexander and Lucrezia were having an incestuous relationship. He later recanted the allegations and accepted the annulment, but there were other Borgia enemies who took up the rumors.

Whispers of incest filled the streets of Rome and 14-year-old Lucrezia’s reputation was damaged beyond repair. There was also a claim that she poisoned her enemies. She allegedly had her own special formula for a an undetectable poison. She’s even supposed to have had a specially designed ring with a compartment for the poison and a tiny needle with which to administer it.

Coin of Lucrezia Borgia

Coin of Lucrezia Borgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pope Alexander married her off again, this time to Alphonso of Aragon, the 18-year-old duke of Bisceglie, to firm up his political alliances with Naples. Although it was an arranged marriage the match was a happy one. Lucrezia and Alphonso had a baby, Rodrigo and seemed to be very much in love. Alas it only lasted 2 years. “Pope Alexander and Lucrezia’s brother Cesare sought a new alliance with France, and Lucrezia’s marriage to Alfonso was a major obstacle.” [Biography] Alfonso was attacked by assassins in the streets of Rome. He was brutally stabbed in the head, arm and leg. With the help of his own guards he made it back to the papal residence, where he was nursed  by Lucrezia and others.  But, while he was recovering an assassin (almost certainly working for her brother) gained admittance to the sick room and strangled him. Lucrezia was heart broken.

After Alphonso’s death Pope Alexander went away to survey a  “new acquisition” and “left the administration of the Vatican and the Church in the hands of Lucrezia.” []

English: Lucrezia Borgia presiding over the Cu...

English: Lucrezia Borgia presiding over the Curia Romana in the abcense of her father Pope Alexander VI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But the political chess game that was Lucrezia’s life wasn’t over yet. Single again at 20 her father found her yet another husband Alfonso I d’Este. The d’Este family had heard the rumors of Lucrezia’s infamous behavior, they’d seen how her last two marriages had ended, and they knew how dangerous it was to dance with the Borgas . They bulked at the union, but when Alexander applied pressure — and upped the dowry — they gave in and the wedding took place in 1502. Lucrezia was packed up and sent to Ferrara.

At first her new life in Ferrara was very difficult. Her husband was distant and unloving, her new family was suspicious and shunned her and she was removed from everyone she had every loved — especially her baby, Rodrigo. But Alfonso d’Este and eventually his family came to realize she wasn’t the murderous adulterer she painted to be.”She won over her reluctant husband by her youthful charm (she was only twenty-two), and from that time forth she led a peaceful life, about which there was hardly a breath of scandal.” [NNDB]

Possibly portrait of Lucrezia Borgia

Possibly portrait of Lucrezia Borgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1503 Pope Alexander died and she was finally free from her role as the family’s pawn. Two years later Alfonso’s father died making the couple the Duke and Duchess of Ferrara.

During their seventeen year marriage Alfonso and Lucrezia had 6 children, 2 of whom lived to adulthood. (Rodrigo lived to be 12-years-old. Although Lucrezia tried she never saw her son after she left Rome)

As Duchess she helped make the court of Fererra a truly Renaissance place. She…

gathered many learned men, poets and artists at her court, among whom were Ariosto, Cardinal Bembo, Aldus Manutius the printer, and the painters Titian and Dosso Dossi. She devoted herself to the education of her children and to charitable works [Ibid]

She died due to complications of child birth on June 24, 1519.

English: Lucrezia Borgia

English: Lucrezia Borgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gustav Vigeland 4.11.13 Thought of the Day

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Adolf Gustav Vigeland was born on this day outside Halse og Harkmark  in Mandal, Norway in 1869. Today is the 144th anniversary of his birth.

He was born to Anne and  Elesæus Vigeland. His father was a master cabinetmaker. Gustave was interested in wood as a medium too, but he wanted to carve it, not make cabinets with it. He went to Oslo at 15 to apprentice at wood carving. His education was put on hold when his father died and Gustav returned home to help support he family. But by 1888 he was back in Oslo studying under sculptor Brynjulf Bergslien. In 1889 he premiered his first work, Hagar and Ishmael.

Portrett av Gustav Vigeland

Portrett av Gustav Vigeland (Photo credit: National Library of Norway)

Starting in 1891 she traveled to Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin and Florence. His stay in Paris, studying  at Auguste Rodin’s studio had a particular influence on the young sculptor.

Themes of life, death and  love — at once intimate and grand in scale — made their way into his sculpture.

Conceptions of death recur in a number of his works, and his portrayals range from melancholy and desolation to deep affection and ecstasy of the embrace. [The Robinson Library]

Frogner famous for housing the Vigeland Sculpt...

Frogner famous for housing the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which was created by Gustav Vigeland in the 20th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His works were well received in art circles and by critics, but Gustav found he couldn’t make a living sculpting naked images of death or love.

He took a unfulfilling job helping to restore the Nidaros Cathedral in 1897 for a few years — it was there that he began to carve dragons and lizards, animals he used later to symbolize sin and the force of nature working against man. He spent a decade carving busts of Norway’s famous writers and thinkers. He designed the Nobel Peace Prize which was first awarded in 1901.

[Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Back of the Nobel Peace Prize. [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Gustav secured an abandoned studio from the city of Oslo starting in 1902. He used the work space for nearly two decades before it was demolished to make way for the new Deichman Library. At that point he negotiated with the city council for a new workspace. They would provide him with a new studio/living space and he would donate all his future art works to the city. (Which explains why so little is of Vigeland’s art is found outside of Oslo, and why the city is so beautifully decorated by it.)


Detail of some of the hundreds of sculpture in Vigeland Park. [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Oslo’s Vigeland Park  is the world’s largest sculpture park designed by a single artist. The park boast…

over 600 human figures engraved in 192 different sculptures. All of them, amazing. The masterpiece of the park is “The Monolith” a towering spire figures ascending to eternity. Gustav Vigeland is the man who designed the models for every sculpture in the park. A team of sculptures work for years to create all the granite and bronze statues. The various sculptures portray lots of widely ranging aspects of the human condition. There are many sculptures depicting intense emotions and feelings; love, parenthood, innocence, violence, suffering and joy. In all of the sculptures, there is a deeply moving and poetic statement about life. []

When he died in 1943 his studio was converted into The Vigeland Museum. Today the museum “houses approximately 1,600 sculptures, 420 woodcuts, and 12,000 drawings, as well as other artifacts such as notebooks, photographs, books, and thousands of letters belonging to Vigeland.” [Real Scandinavia]

Wheel of Life scuopture at Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

Wheel of Life scuopture at Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

"Ball of Babies" at the Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

“Ball of Babies” at the Vigeland Park [Image courtesy: Red Ice Creations]

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