“It’s a very interesting read and Carolyn Harris knows her stuff. Don’t be too frightened by the ‘academic’ air about it, it’s still quite readable even if you aren’t a professor.”by
In May 2015, I gave a talk on Women and Magna Carta at the Tedx The Annex Women event in Toronto. Magna Carta promised noble widows freedom from forced remarriage, setting a precedent for future women’s rights legislation. In the talk, I compare the clauses concerning women’s rights in Magna Carta to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and discuss the enduring impact of Magna Carta 800 years after the document was reluctantly accepted by King John in 1215.
Here is my Tedx Talk on Women and Magna Carta:
For more on Magna Carta and the impact of the famous charter on women, see my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rightsby
For a generation of young women, the outbreak of the First World War brought new experiences and leadership opportunities. When Russia entered the conflict with Britain and France against Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914, Tsar Nicholas II’s four daughters joined the war effort. Olga and Tatiana, aged eighteen and seventeen, became nurses and headed philanthropic committees. Maria and Anastasia, aged fifteen and thirteen, volunteered in a hospital named in their honour.
Of the four Grand Duchesses, Tatiana achieved the most success in her war work and became a well known public figure in her own right. In Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913-1918, Helen Azar, editor and translator of The Diary of Olga Romanov: Royal Witness to the Russian Revolution and Maria and Anastasia: The Youngest Romanov Grand Duchesses in Their Own Words: Letters, Diaries, Postcards. allows Tatiana to speak for herself through her own writings as a witness to war and revolution in Russia.
The publication of Tatiana’s writings challenges numerous longstanding myths about Nicholas II’s children that have developed since the murder of the Imperial family in 1918. A number of popular biographers, including Robert Massie in Nicholas and Alexandra and Peter Kurth in Tsar: The Lost World of Nicholas and Alexandra have described the Grand Duchesses as leading cloistered or socially isolated lives. Tatiana’s diaries and letters discuss a broad range of friends, relatives, officers and fellow nurses with whom she socialized on a regular basis and continued to correspond with after the Russian Revolution. Tatiana’s detailed accounts of her participation in committee meetings and operations in military hospitals refute any idea that her war work was primarily ceremonial in nature.
Azar’s translations of the letters and diaries are richly annotated by Nicholas B. Nicholson, an expert in Russian decorative arts and author of Object of Virtue: A Novel. Tatiana and her sisters often referred to their relatives and friends by nicknames and initials in their writings and Nicholson’s notes provide detailed mini biographies of many of these figures. Nicholson also describes the fate of the places where Tatiana visited during the tricentennial of the Romanov dynasty in 1913 and First World War. Stalin’s rule saw the demolition of historic palaces and churches in Moscow’s Kremlin. The Siege of Leningrad during the Second World War caused the destruction and damage of imperial sites surrounding St. Petersburg.
The letters and diaries in the book are complemented with excerpts from the memoirs of those who knew Tatiana during the First World War and Russian Revolution, providing valuable context and background to the events and personalities in the Grand Duchess’s writings. Some of these accounts, such as Thirteen Years at the Russian Court, by the Imperial children’s French tutor, Pierre Gilliard, will be familiar to readers of biographies of Russia’s last Imperial family. Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913-1918 is unique because it includes memories of Tatiana’s fellow nurses and wounded soldiers, published in English for the first time.
Tatiana’s letters from 1917 and 1918 reveal how the twenty year old Grand Duchess responded to the Russian Revolutions and her family’s imprisonment. Although, Tatiana wrote to one of her tutors in October 1917, “As you know, we don’t dejected easily,” her correspondence makes clear that she felt betrayed by members of her extended family who had not remained loyal to her father and was concerned about a variety of circumstances from her family’s isolation from the outside world to Bolshevik treatment of military veterans. The book ends on a haunting note, with Tatiana’s final letter to fellow nurse Valentina Cherbotaryeva in May 1918, “Send regards to all who remember me.”
Tatiana was murdered alongside her family just two months later, at the age of twenty-one. The remains of the Imperial family were excavated in the 1990s and are now buried in the Peter and Paul fortress in St. Petersburg. Tatiana Romanov, Daughter of the Last Tsar: Diaries and Letters, 1913-1918 captures the experiences and achievements of the young Grand Duchess during one of the most tumultuous periods of Russia’s history.
Next week: Agincourt: Great Battles Series by Anne Curry
My review of The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport has been published in the current issue of The Royal Studies Journal, a peer reviewed, open access, interdisciplinary and international academic journal for the field of Royal Studies published by Winchester University Press.
Click here to read the review in The Royal Studies Journal, Volume 2, Number 2, 2015.by
My interview with Michael Hingston, books editor of the Edmonton Journal discusses the Magna Carta Canada exhibition (at the Alberta Legislature until December 29), why everyone should read Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights before viewing Magna Carta, and the impact of Magna Carta on Canada and the world.
Click here to purchase your copy of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rightsby
I was interviewed about my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights by Alberta Morning News, which is broadcast in Calgary and Edmonton. I discuss the enduring legacy of Magna Carta eight centuries after King John reluctantly affixed his seal to the document and the Magna Carta Canada exhibition, which opens at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in Edmonton on November 23.
The interview is available in the Newstalk 770 AM audio vault – November 22, 7am (The interview begins around 7:05am)by
I discussed the history of King John and Magna Carta and its impact on modern Canada, as well as my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights, with Beyond The Hill: Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. The interview is on pages 28 and 29 of the magazine.
Click here to purchase my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rightsby
The Magna Carta Canada exhibition opens at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in Edmonton on November 23. Magna Carta will be on display there until December 29. I will be speaking and signing books in Edmonton on November 26 and 27. Here are the public events:
On November 26 at 12pm I will be speaking at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law about my book, Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights and the enduring impact of Magna Carta on the Modern World. Pizza will be served.
On November 27, I will be signing copies of Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rights at Audrey’s Books from 12pm until 1:30pm
Click here to read my interview with the Ms. Magna Carta faculty blog at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law about writing, the book, the impact of Magna Carta and whether King John should be considered the worst king in English history.by
My article on Magna Carta and Women’s Rights has been published in the fall 2015 issue of the Queen’s University alumni review. The article discusses the situation of noblewomen in King John’s reign (including the queen, Isabelle of Angoulême), the clauses in Magna Carta that discuss inheritance rights and freedom from forced remarriage for noble widows and how Magna Carta went on to inspire suffragettes and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Click here to read Magna Carta and Women’s Rights in the Queen’s Alumni Review
Click here to purchase my book Magna Carta and Its Gifts to Canada: Democracy, Law, and Human Rightsby
My book, Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette, has been published by Palgrave MacMillan as part of the Queenship and Power series.
Review: “Harris’ richly detailed comparative study of Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette offers fresh perspective on how both queens understood their roles as heads of households, wives, and mothers and how, in turn, those roles were interpreted by their husbands’ subjects. Combining a rigorous review of the literature with new research and original analytical insights, Harris has crafted an eminently readable and engaging work that effectively illuminates the complex nature of early modern queenship and revolution.” –Michelle White, UC Foundation Professor of History, University of Tennessee – Chattanooga, USA
About the book: Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France and Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I of England were two of the most notorious queens in European history. They both faced accusations that they had transgressed social, gender and regional norms, and attempted to defend themselves against negative reactions to their behavior. Each queen engaged with the debates of her time concerning the place of women within their families, religion, politics, the public sphere and court culture and attempted to counter criticism of her foreign origins and political influence. The impeachment of Henrietta Maria in 1643 and trial and execution of Marie Antoinette in 1793 were also trials of monarchical government that shaped the English Civil Wars and French Revolution.
In Canada, Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette is available from Amazon.ca and variety of other booksellers.
In the USA,Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette (Queenship and Power) is available from Amazon.com and directly from Palgrave Macmillan
In the UK, Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe: Henrietta Maria and Marie Antoinette (Queenship and Power) is available from Amazon.co.uk and directly from Palgrave Macmillan
In the USA and UK, order directly from Palgrave Macmillan by December 31 with the discount code PM15THIRTY to receive 30% off. View the Queenship and Revolution in Early Modern Europe flyer here for more information.by