Human life

When life becomes a numerical exercise

Today, I am stepping out of my comfort zone (historical posts with a little Anna spice) to share something rather personal. Oh, God: I can see some of you yawning at the thought—as you should, perhaps, seeing as my life is not exactly the stuff of which novels are made. Well, okay, I once balanced …

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Dying for his king – or how a would-be Parliamentarian ended up a dead Royalist

There is a picture in the National Portrait Gallery that I have always been particularly fond of. Originally, I was drawn to it more because of the formal garden in the background than the sitters in the foreground (this was when I was thinking BIG when it came to garden design), but every time I’ve …

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Jan Frans van Dael, Roses in a glass vase

Sometimes love is not enough…

…which, one would think, is not the best of topics on Valentine’s Day, but hey, love is love even when it isn’t quite enough, isn’t it? Today’s post is rather personal. I think (hope) it speaks for itself. ****************** She was fourteen the first time she saw him. He was a year older, a cocky …

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In Memoriam – of graveyards and mothers

A recent survey here in Sweden has concluded that a majority of Swedish people feel we should spread the ashes of those that have died in the great outdoors. A gust of wind and what little remains of a human after cremation would soar upwards, spread and eventually settle back on the ground. No need, …

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Of golden camels and shortchanged heiresses

In 1204, a certain Marie de Montpellier married King Pedro II of Aragón. This was her third marriage, and I dare say we can safely conclude Marie was rather unlucky in love—or at least in marriages. But before we start dissecting her marital unions, we need some background. Marie was the daughter of Guillaume of …

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Is she Violent? No, she’s Violante

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder what our dear ancestors might have been high on when naming their children. Take, for example, the royal custom in medieval Castile of naming their little princesses Urraca. Urraca is Spanish for magpie, and my main objection to the name is how harsh it sounds. Urraca is an onomatopoeic …

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The male footnote – of a young man in Tudor England

History as we know it is like a very large, very incomplete embroidery, where some of those who have lived and breathed before us have ended up as a minuscule little stitch or two while the vast majority of our ancestors have lived and died without leaving as much as a wrinkle on the tapestry …

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Happy Christmas!

In difference to preceding generations, we live in the age of globalisation. Most of us have gadgets in our homes produced on the other side of the world, we wear clothes made in India or Bangladesh, we eat fruit and vegetable and fish that has been transported from very, very far away. That’s how we …

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Ode to the pea

There are a couple of words in the global dictionary that have Swedish roots. Ombudsman, for example. And smorgasbord – or as we say, smörgåsbord – which essentially is a the huge buffet us Swedes enjoy at Christmas. Tables clad in red cloths are laden with several types of herring, just as many variants on …

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The peace bride

In 1328, the very young Princess Joan of the Tower, Edward II’s and Isabella’s youngest daughter, was wed to the even younger Prince David of Scotland. Two small children, speaking vows they’d rehearsed but probably didn’t understand. Not exactly unusual in medieval times, but even by those standards Joan and David were very young. Once …

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