A Swedish royal dynasty (1523 – 1818)

Garbo as Queen Christina with two male friends / ixozino.htw.pl

Garbo as Queen Christina with two male friends / ixozino.htw.pl

The Vasa dynasty provided monarchs for Sweden, with only two exceptions, from the beginning of the sixteenth century to just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars (q.v.). The Vasa were only minor royalty, but gained the throne with Gustav I. He it was who smashed the Danish-dominated Kalmar Union, and led Sweden through the Reformation.

Three of Gustav’s sons followed him as King – Erik XIV, John III and following deposition of John’s son Sigismund III Vasa – Charles IX. Charles’ son Gustav II Adolf became a famous soldier and statesman whose daughter Christina abdicated in 1654 in favour of her cousin Charles X Gustav. Christina was played by Greta Garbo in a Hollywood film made about the queen.

Charles son, another Charles (XI) managed to introduce absolute monarchy in the French style of that epoch, but the Swedes were having none of it, abolishing absolutism after the death of Charles XI’s childless son, who was yet another Charles (XII). This Charles’ sister Ulrika in turn abdicated, and thus produced a breach in the line witrh the accession of her husband Frederick I. His successor Adolf Frederick descended from Charles XI’s sister, but his son Gustav III had a good deal less of the Vasa blood in him. The Vasa Dynasty ended with Charles XIII, who weakly died without heirs of any kind.

The VASA Dynasty

1523 – 60 Gustav I

1560 – 69 Erik XIV

1569 – 92 John III

1592 – 1604 Sigismund

1604 – 11 Charles IX

1611 – 32 Gustav II Adolf

1632 – 54 Christina

1654 – 60 Charles X

1660 – 97 Charles XI

1697 – 1718 Charles XII

1718 – 20 Ulrika Eleanora

1720 – 51 Frederick

1551 – 71 Adolf Frederick

1771 – 92 Gustav III

1792 – 1809 Gustav IV Adolf

1809 – 1818 Charles XIII

The royal house of Sweden then became Frenchified, when the country invited Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte, one of Bonaparte’s marshals to become King Charles XIV John. The present monarchs of Sweden belong to this dynasty, and those of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Belgium all descend from the marshal’s son Oscar I and his queen, Désirée Clary.

A new head of the House of Alba

The Duchess starts her third marriage / nick verreos.blogsite.com

The Duchess starts her third marriage / nick verreos.blogsite.com

The best known duchess in Spain, probably Europe too, has died after a long life (1926 – 2014) and a short but fatal illness. She was Cayetana, made 18th Duchess of Alba in 1954 after the death of her father the Duke. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War the Albas had left Spain to live in London, where the Duke was Ambassador until the Treaty of Lausanne.

The new (19th) Duke of Alba /vanitatis.com

The new (19th) Duke of Alba /vanitatis.com

The new Duke of Alba is Carlos Fitzjames-Stuart, a prematurely white-haired, serious man, separated from his wife, is in his late fifties; he became Duke of Huescar when his mother was named duchess. The white hair might possibly have come about because Carlos’ mother led an extraordinary life, speaking several languages, being much loved by the ordinary people of Sevilla; at the slightest opportunity she would, even in her eighties, throw up her arms in flamenco movements and ululate on the pavement, observed with love by her third and last husband Alfonso Diez, and a certain gloom by her oldest son. Her first husband was another aristocrat, Luis Martínez de Irujo, with whom she had six children, all boys until the last. They are Carlos, Alfonso, Jacobo, Fernando, Cayetano and Eugenia. All have dukedoms. Cayetana had more titles than any other grand aristocratic family in Europe. This privileged position used to be held by another grand duchess, that of Medinaceli, who had more than ninety, but many were lost during the Second Republic, while others simply expired.

The Anglo-Scottish surname is easily explained. James VII of Scotland and II of England, King Charles II’s younger brother, had affairs, like all Stuarts, with many ladies not his wife. Among these was Arabella Churchill and the couple produced an illegitimate son who became Duke of Berwick. Cayetana was descended from this man, later legitimized, indeed one of her nearly forty titles is that of Berwick.

The 3rd Duke of Alba (1507 – 82) was a feared soldier and noted diplomat. He served with Holy Roman Emperor (q.v.) Charles V in Germany, fighting the Protestant princes, distinguishing himself at the Siege of Metz. With Philip II of Spain his three significant commands were (1) in the Italian Wars against a Pope (Paul IV), (2) in the army of Flanders and (3) the conquest of Portugal (1580).

In the Low Country wars he was sent to deal with Dutch resistance, and did so, perhaps with too much brio; to this day Dutch mothers of young children will threaten to ‘call in the Duke of Alba‘ in the event of their being troublesome. He set up a ‘tolerance zero’ hardline through his Council of Blood, and his harsh policies and fierce military campaigns against the ‘rebels’, plus his new centralized taxes aggravated rather than calmed the revolt. He was quite unable to quell it militarily, and his over-the-top methods started the scandalous Eighty Years War (q.v.) in 1568. He was recalled by the Spanish Crown in 1573, and then forced out of retirement to lead the successful occupation of Portugal.

Newly deceased Cayetana has been described as ‘frivolous’, especially by the colourful and mendacious Spanish press, and it is true that she was a dab hand at publicity. Nevertheless she always got her way, and was especially firm with her children, only beginning a distribution of her fabulous wealth before marrying for the third time. She was undoubtedly popular with ‘the common people’ especially in Sevilla, where she breathed her last in her Casa de las Dueñas. The Alba Palace of Liria in Madrid, lovingly and faithfully maintained by her chief administrator – Carlos, as well as the innumerable other palaces and castles spread across Spain, is a national monument, containing priceless works of art. In her last years the Duchess was subjected to a number of facial operations, none of which was successful, destroying the face of one of the most beautiful women in Spain. It must be said that she was a willing volunteer, but the yellow press has for years delighted in publishing appalling pictures of her. Publication of her ‘new look’ did not seem to worry her in the least, though captions to the photographs were often cruel.

A reminder from Dean Swift

Very soon now all THREE volumes

of General History

will have been published

and available for a sale at a very cheap price


These three volumes contain

almost all the posts published on www.general-history.com

during the last four or five years.

Just go to Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com (America) or Amazon.es (España)

go to Books and key

general history Dean Swift

in order to buy your copies

and have them sent directly to your home address.

General History Volume 3

should be on Amazon with the other two just before or just after Christmas 2014.

The Irish Rebellion

An artist's impression of an incident in the Irish Rebellion; not the leader's attempt to block the cannon's mouth

An artist’s impression of an incident in the Irish Rebellion; not the leader’s attempt to block the cannon’s mouth

In World History, the last years of the eighteenth century as opposed to the middle years, were full of unrest, rebellion, revolution and unworthy, unlawful acts. Ireland and ‘the Irish Question’ has cropped up in British history since William the Conquerer’s successful invasion of Saxon England. At all times there has been trouble brewing, or happening, in the Emerald Isle, a place of beauty and mystery. Since English kings decided Ireland belonged to them, instead of the Irish, English gentlemen have crossed the Irish Sea to quell some rebellion or other, always with the best (or worst) intentions. Like Essex and Raleigh, they failed and returned with their English tails between the legs, to face the block. Continue reading

Andrew Johnson

/ wikihistoria.wikispaces.com

/ wikihistoria.wikispaces.com

The seventeenth President of the USA has things in common with two others who held the office – Lincoln and Lyndon Baynes Johnson: like Lincoln, Andrew J. was born in a log cabin, but unlike him he never went to school, and was taught to read by his wife. He also shares two coincidences with L.B. – his surname and the fact that both became President because they had been Vice-President when the Number One was asassinated. Continue reading

Purges in Soviet Russia

Josef Stalin / globalsecurity.org

Josef Stalin / globalsecurity.org

Stalin ordered the arrest, summary trial and subsequent execution of millions of people in Communist Russia, particularly between the years 1936 – 8. His aim was simply to put potential or actual opponents out of the way, and imprisoning or killing them seemed the best way. When his fellow leader of the Revolution Kirov was murdered in 1934, Stalin used the crime as a convenient excuse.

   Looking closely at revolutions during the last six hundred years, it is clear they follow the same pattern. In Stalin’s purges he arranged three show trials in Moscow. In them especially chosen judges simply ate up most of the Russian Revolution’s creators, in just the same way as the ‘Committee of Public Safety’ and ‘The Terror’ (q.v.) had done towards the end of the French Revolution. Continue reading

Andrew Jackson

/ de-wikipedia.org

/ de-wikipedia.org

Son of an Ulsterman, Jackson was born in South Carolina 1767, a true-grit Southerner. Fame was first achieved by his leadership and reputation for courage in fighting the Creek Indians.Though he was young, his men called him Old Hickory. He broke up the Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, and, inevitably took half their territory. To make a point, plenty of other white soldiers would have taken all of it.

   Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi were therefore opening up with more safety for white settlers. In the Anglo-American War, now with the rank of General, he beat up the British redcoats at New Orleans in January, 1815, after which he became an American hero, and rich as well, as he bought cheaply some of the lands he had fought for successfully, and exploited them. Among other things, he dealt stupendously in slaves. Continue reading

François P.G. Guizot

/ en.wikipedia.org

/ en.wikipedia.org

This statesman was born 1787, not a safe time to be born anywhere in France. His father was killed by the guillotine during the Terror (q.v.); somehow François survived to serve Louis XVII after the Bourbon Dynasty (q.v.) was restored. Following the subsequent murder of the Duc de Berry, son of the future Charles X (1820) he lost his position in the Council of State, and went over to the Liberals. Continue reading

Immigration to the United States

Immigrants – those who arrive in a new country having left their own:

Emigrants – those who leave their own country to go to another:

Emigration – the act of leaving one’s country to start a new life in another:

Immigration – the noun that describes the action of immigrants:


Almost there: arrival at Ellis Island / mrstratton.com

Almost there: arrival at Ellis Island / mrstratton.com

This brief lesson in English vocabulary is essential before starting an article about immigration or emigration. Television news programmesand the rest of the media continuously mix up the words which makes for confusion. Continue reading

The influenza pandemic (and panic) of 1918

Mass treatment for influenza in the USA / en.wikipedia.org

Mass treatment for influenza in the USA / en.wikipedia.org

The Plague, or the Black Death or Bubonic Plague struck down nearly a third of the population in most European countries during the Middle Ages. There being no known antidote, populations had to wait until these plagues vanished or burnt themselves out. Literally, as it turned out in the Plague during the reign of Charles II in England, when the Great Fire of London succeeded where no doctors or medicines could. Influenza or the rudely named ‘Spanish ‘flu’, is a common virus which spreads rapidly, attacking very young and elderly people for preference. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, had it been made in the Middle Ages, would according to the scientists have killed the Bubonic virus instantly. Fleming was born in the late Eighties of the nineteenth century, and penicillin was still not around in 1918 when the fly virus mutated and a very virulent form of it occurred in three different forms in a matter of months. Continue reading