My article about Prince Rupert of the Rhine, cousin of King Charles II and 1st Governor of the Hudson’s Bay company appeared in the October-November 2015 issue of Canada’s History Magazine. The article is now available to read online. Here’s an excerpt:
“Prince Rupert of the Rhine, first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, had a profound effect on Canada’s history. Following his flight from Prague as an infant, he spent his life constantly on the move, undertaking military service in continental Europe and Great Britain and leading the royalist navy to the west coast of Africa and the Caribbean.
Map of Prince Rupert’s travels as Commander of the Royalist Fleet
Rupert’s travels enabled him to recognize the significance of Radisson’s and Des Groseilliers’ discoveries and to envision an enterprise with the vast scope of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Moreover, the grant of Rupert’s Land to the company discouraged the Americans from expanding northward after the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence in the late eighteenth century.
Prince Rupert not only left his mark on the map of Canada, he helped to forge the modern nation.”
“Royal children on tour influence popular perceptions of the monarchy in two ways. First, they create a personal bond between royal parents and the public – parenting provides common ground between royalty and people of all backgrounds.
Second, royal children personify the future of the monarchy. Like Queen Victoria during the last years of her reign, Elizabeth now has three generations of direct heirs. At various points over the course of her long reign, there has been debate about the future of the monarchy. The presence of George and Charlotte in the coming royal visit demonstrates the potential for the monarchy to enjoy public support in Canada and the wider Commonwealth for generations to come.”
Following his abdication in 1936, the Duke of Windsor was eager to carve out a new role for himself and ensure that his wife was treated as a full member of the royal family even though she had not received the title of “Her Royal Highness.” There was no precedent for an abdicated sovereign assuming an active public role on behalf of the current sovereign and the Duke was frustrated that he appeared to be expected to live a quiet life in exile.
The Duke of Windsor was familiar with Germany and had numerous relatives there. He seems to have envisioned a diplomatic role for himself as a mediator between Britain and Germany. Right up until the outbreak of the Second World War, there were senior figures in the British government who thought a lasting peace could be negotiated through diplomacy and the the Duke seems to have shared their views. When war was imminent in 1939, the Duke contacted Hitler hoping to negotiate a peaceful solution, attempting to draw upon the rapport they developed during the 1937 visit.
The Duke of Windsor’s ties with Nazi Germany made him a liability for Britain during the Second World War and he was appointed Governor of the Bahamas, which removed him from Europe for the remainder of the war. In the Bahamas, the Duke and Duchess continued to cause anxiety for the British government as their visits to the United States attracted an enormous amount of public attention and the Duke expressed pessimism about a British victory. He would not receive further official positions following the end of his term as Governor of the Bahamas.
I am teaching an eight week course about Imperial Spain at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies on Tuesdays from March 15 to May 3, 2016 from 11am to 1pm. All are welcome
Click here to Register
Ferdinand and Isabella transformed a united Spain into a world power, sponsoring Columbus’ voyages to the Americas and forming alliances with other European kingdoms. This new Imperial Spain had a dark side: the rise of the Inquisition, the expulsion of Spain’s Jewish population and the exploitation of the native peoples in the colonies. Gold and silver from the Americas made Spain’s rulers the richest in Europe until its Golden Age came to an end with the wars of the 18th century. Learn about the rise and fall of Imperial Spain and its lessons for politics and international relations today.
Here is an excerpt from the review: “Lavishly illustrated throughout, Dr. Harris gives a well-rounded history of the document and its creation and guiding principles. She explains the impact of the document right through to seeing it as a basis of the United Nations’ Universal declaration of Human Rights. Of particular interest to students may be the importance of the Magna Carta in Canada’s history through to the present day. As well, Dr. Harris looks at the impact of it on the American and French Revolution…Highly recommended for both school and public libraries.”
The Queen at the Council Fire places an important emphasis on the role of language in these early treaties between the Crown and Canada’s first nations. The familial words employed in the treaties meant equality to the First Nations but subordination to the Europeans. There were also differences concerning the importance of the treaties. European negotiators often viewed the treaties as an endpoint in their relations with indigenous peoples while First Nations leaders viewed these documents as part of an ongoing, living relationship. The nature of the Crown itself changed over the course of the Treaty relationship. The development of responsible government and the modern Canadian constitutional monarchy from the eighteenth century to the present often conflicted with the personal relationship between monarch and First Peoples enshrined in the treaties.
In a chapter on “Building community, a model royal visit” Tidridge highlights the importance of the work of the Earl and Countess of Wessex in engaging with First Nations communities in Canada. The Queen’s youngest son and daughter-in-law visit Canada almost every year but their itineraries are privately funded “working visits” rather than higher profile “official visits” and therefore receive less media coverage. In September 2014, the Countess of Wessex visited Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation in Northern Ontario with a delegation of high profile women, spending the night on the reserve. The extended stay provided opportunities for shared experiences and extended engagement with the community.