Ben McNally Books/Globe & Mail Books and Brunch on April 9

I will be speaking about my latest book Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting at the Ben McNally Books/Globe & Mail Books and Brunch on April 9 at the King Edward hotel in Toronto. Tickets are $55 and must be purchased in advance. Book sale and signing to follow.  Click here for more information

Click here to pre-order my book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting 

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Smithsonian Russian Revolution Series: The Abdication of Czar Nicholas II

Czar Nicholas II under guard after his abdication in 1917

The March article in my monthly series for Smithsonian Magazine about the Russian Revolutions of 1917 is about the abdication of Czar Nicholas II, which took place nearly 100 years ago on March 15, 1917. Since becoming Czar in 1894, Nicholas II had remained in power through a number of crises including Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 and Bloody Sunday in 1905. The difference in 1917 was that Nicholas II lost the support of the military during the First World War and his generals urged him to abdicate in the interests of continuing the war on the eastern front.

Click here to read “The Abdication of Nicholas II Left Russia Without a Czar for the First Time in 300 Years” in Smithsonian Magazine

Sources and Further Reading:

After his abdication, Czar Nicholas II caught up on reading, completing War and Peace  by Leo Tolstoy for the first time while under house arrest. My article begins with a quote from the novel from Part 2, when Napoleon invaded Russia during the reign of Czar Alexander I.

Key documents concerning the abdication of Nicholas II including the telegrams from his generals, announcements by the Duma and the abdication manifesto itself are translated and reprinted in The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution

 The Complete Wartime Correspondence of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra has been published in its entirety. Excerpts from the Imperial couple’s letters are also printed in A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story

Dominic Lieven’s latest book discusses The End of Tsarist Russia: The March to World War I and Revolution. He is also the author of a political biography of Czar Nicholas II entitled Nicholas II: Twilight of the Empire

The impressions of foreigners resident in Saint Petersburg during the Russian Revolutions of 1917 feature in Helen Rappaport’s new book, Caught in the Revolution: Petrograd, Russia, 1917 – A World on the Edge. Rappaport is also the author of a number of other excellent books about the last Imperial family including The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra and The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg

In The Last of the Tsars, historian Robert Service examines Nicholas II’s political views and his conversations with his household and guards after his abdication.

Numerous members of Czar Nicholas II’s extended family, household and social circle survived the Russian Revolutions of 1917 and fled abroad, where they wrote their memoirs about Russia’s last Imperial family. I include excerpts from three of these works in the article: The Education of a Princess by Czar Nicholas II’s cousin, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, The Real Tsaritsa by Empress Alexandra’s friend, Lili Dehn and Thirteen Years at the Russian Court by the Imperial children’s French tutor, Pierre Gilliard.

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Updated Canadian Encyclopedia Articles about The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive in Canada

I have updated my Canadian Encyclopedia articles about William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to include the 2016 royal tour of British Columbia and Yukon.

Click here to read my article about Prince William, Duke of Cambridge in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Click here to read my article about Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

I discuss Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte in my forthcoming book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting, which will be published in Canada on April 8 and the USA and UK on May 2.

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Smithsonian Russian Revolution Series: Russia’s February Revolution Was Led by Women on the March

Skobelev Square during the February Revolution by Aleksandr Gerasimov, 1917

My latest article in my monthly Russian Revolution series in Smithsonian Magazine is about the February Revolution, which precipitated the downfall of the Romanov dynasty. Women played a key role in this political unrest.

“In the country’s urban centers, with men on the battlefield, women took on new roles in the workforce, as they did throughout Europe during the war. Between 1914 and 1917, 250,000 more women began working outside the home for the first time. By the outbreak of the February Revolution, close to one million female workers lived in Russia’s cities, but were paid half the wages of men and endured substandard living conditions. The journalist Ariadna Tyrkova wrote, “Day by day, the war has changed attitudes about woman. It has become increasingly clear that the unseen effort of a woman and her labour often support the entire economy of a country.””

Click here to read “Russia’s February Revolution Was Led by Women on the March” in Smithsonian Magazine 

Click here to read all my articles in the Smithsonian Magazine Russian Revolution series. 

Sources and Further Reading:

The quotation at the beginning of the article is from The Lower Depths, a play written by Maxim Gorky in 1901-1902, which became especially popular following the Russian Revolutions of 1917.

The letter to King George V from Czar Nicholas II quoted in the article is reprinted in A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story. For more information about the relationship between King George V, Czar Nicholas II and Kaiser Wilhelm II during the First World War, see George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I by Miranda Carter.

Czar Nicholas II’s abdication manifesto, the telegrams from the Czar’s generals requesting his abdication, correspondence between Nicholas and Alexandra in February and March 1917 and documents concerning the Provisional Government’s assumption of power are available in The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution (Annals of Communism Series)

The description of women persuading the workers at the Nobel Engineering works to go on strike is reprinted in Women in Russia, 1700-2000 by Barbara Alpern Engel, p. 134.
Excerpts from the writings of journalist Ariadna Tyrkova are available to read in Russian Women, 1698-1917: Experience and Expression, An Anthology of Sources

An excellent book about Russian women’s lives prior to the Russian Revolutions of 1917 including legal status, political influence, fashion and daily life is Women in Russian History: From the Tenth to the Twentieth Century by Natalia Pushkareva

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New Review of Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe in the Royal Stuart Journal

My 2nd book Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette (Queenship and Power series) has received a detailed and thoughtful review in the most recent issue of the Royal Stuart Journal  from Dr. Sara Wolfson, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Humanities at Canterbury Christ Church University and an expert on Queen Henrietta Maria.

Click here to read the review in the Royal Stuart Journal 7 (2016) (1)

Click here to purchase Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette (Queenship and Power series) on Amazon

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Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg begins at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies on March 14, 2017

Peter the Great in 1698

In March, April and May 2017, I will be teaching one of my most popular courses at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies: Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg. Click here to register

When Peter became czar in 1682, Europe had become quite foreign to Russia. Fascinated by the West, Peter was determined to transform Russia into a great European power. In this course, we’ll discover the traditional Russia of Peter’s childhood, his Grand Tour of Europe and his subsequent dream of building St. Petersburg, a new city to match his vision of the country.

With images of the city and accounts of his drive to create it, we’ll see how the city emerged as a symbol of his power and of Russia’s hopes. We will look at the lasting impact of his reign, and find out how and why Russian president Vladimir Putin takes Peter as a role model. Join us for a discussion of the architectural and political legacy of one of the world’s most influential figures.

19th century portrait of Peter the Great interrogating his son, Alexei

What You’ll Learn:

  • Explore the rise of Russia as a world power in the 18th century.
  • Understand the impact of Peter the Great on Russia’s past and present.
  • Follow the founding of St. Petersburg as capital of Imperial Russia.
  • Examine the role of St. Petersburg in Russia’s relationship with the West.
  • Appreciate its influence on Russian culture and society.

Click here to register for Peter the Great and the Building of Saint Petersburg at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

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Today Interview: Queen Elizabeth makes history with 65 years on the throne

Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. June 2, 1953

February 6, 2017 is Queen Elizabeth II’s Sapphire Jubilee. The Queen is the first British monarch to celebrate a 65 year reign though there have been longer reigns elsewhere in the world. (King Louis XIV of France reigned for 72 years, the longest reign in European history so far). As I discussed with Eun Kim at Today, the Queen plans to mark this historic date quietly as it is also the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death.

Click here to read Queen Elizabeth II Makes History with 65 Years on the Throne

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The Table of Contents for Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

The Table of Contents of my forthcoming book, Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting is now available online:

Table of Contents

Introduction  Raising a Royal Child

1     Edgar “the Peaceable” (c. 943-75) and Elfrida of Northampton (c. 945-1001)
2     William “the Conqueror” (c. 1028-87) and Matilda of Flanders (c. 1031-83)

Genealogical chart depicting King Henry II of England and his children

3     Henry II (1133-89) and Eleanor of Aquitaine (c. 1124-1204)
4     Henry III (1207-72) and Eleanor of Provence (c. 1223-91)
5     Edward III (1312-77) and Philippa of Hainault (1314-69)
6     Richard III (1452-85) and Anne Neville (1456-85)

Charles I, Henrietta Maria and their two eldest children

7     Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516) and Isabella I of Castile (1451-1504)
8     Henry VIII (1491-1547) and Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)
9     Frederick V, Elector Palatine (1596-1632) and Elizabeth of England and Scotland (1596-1662)
10    Charles I (1600-49) and Henrietta Maria of France (1609-69)
11    Peter I “the Great” of Russia (1672-1725) and Catherine I (1684-1727)
12    Anne (1665-1714) and George of Denmark (1653-1708)
13    George II (1683-1760) and Caroline of Ansbach (1683-1737)

Nicholas and Alexandra present their daughter, Olga to Queen Victoria

14    Louis XVI of France (1754-93) and Marie Antoinette of Austria (1755-93)
15    Victoria (1819-1901) and Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1819-61)
16    Nicholas II of Russia (1868-1918) and Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt (1872-1918)
17    Juliana of the Netherlands (1909-2004) and Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld (1911-2004)
18    Elizabeth II (1926-) and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (1921-)
19    Prince Charles (1948-) and Lady Diana Spencer (1961-97)  20    Prince William (1982-) and Catherine Middleton (1982-)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte arrive in Canada

Epilogue    The Future of the Royal Nursery

Acknowledgements
Notes
Further Reading
Index

Click here to pre-order your copy of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting

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Smithsonian Russian Revolution Series: On The Eve of the Revolution, A Palace Coup Seemed Inevitable

Czar Nicholas II, his wife Empress Alexandra and their five children in 1915

The 3rd article in my Russian Revolution series in Smithsonian Magazine discusses events in Russia in January 1917, 100 years ago, when revolution was imminent. The murder of Rasputin in December 1916 divided Czar Nicholas II’s extended family and there was widespread speculation of a “Rising of the Grand Dukes” that would lead to a palace coup. The concerns of the elite, however, were dwarfed by the discontent among Russia’s working class, who were facing food shortages in the cities. Despite the tensions in all social classes, Vladimir Lenin, who would eventually rise to power during the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, speculated that older people might not live to see the revolution.

Click here to read “On the Eve of the Russian Revolution, a Palace Coup Seemed Inevitable, But Where Would it Come From?”

Click here for links to the previous articles in my Russian Revolution series in Smithsonian Magazine

Sources and Further Reading:

 From Supplication to Revolution: A Documentary Social History of Imperial Russia is a volume of primary sources revealing changing conditions among all social estates in Russia, from the reign of Catherine the Great to the reign of Nicholas II.

Excerpts from the diaries and letters of Czar Nicholas II, his extended family and members of the diplomatic corps during the First World War are included in A Lifelong Passion: Nicholas and Alexandra: Their Own Story

The letter between Czar Nicholas II’s brother-in-law, Grand Duke Alexander and his own brother, the historian Grand Duke Nicholas is quoted in The Flight Of The Romanovs: A Family Saga. Grand Duke Alexander survived the revolution and wrote two volumes of memoirs, Once a Grand Duke and Always a Grand Duke

The Court of the Last Tsar: Pomp, Power and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas II by Greg King provides detailed mini-biographies of Czar Nicholas II’s family and household.

The conversation quoted in the article between Czar Nicholas II’s aunt, Maria Pavlovna and Duma Chairman Mikhail Rodzianko is discussed in From Splendor to Revolution: The Romanov Women, 1847–1928. Rodzianko also wrote his memoirs: The Reign of Rasputin: An Empire’s Collapse.

Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky’s biography of Czar Alexander II focuses on his reforms and eventual assassination.

The 1917 demonstrations on the 12th anniversary of Bloody Sunday of 1905 are discussed in A Brief History of 1917: Russia’s Year of Revolution, which examines the Russian Revolution from the perspective of ordinary people.

Helen Rappaport’s biography of Lenin, Conspirator: Lenin in Exile examines his years as an exiled revolutionary before returning to Russia and assuming power in 1917. Lenin detailed his philosophy in Essential Works of Lenin: “What Is to Be Done?” and Other Writings

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