Friday, May 27, 2016

Yearning for 1898

Last night's thunderstorm project: a chart of European royalty in 1898 to go with the Corpus Christi Vienna photo I posted on Facebook yesterday. This one is different from other similar pictorial charts I've made in that almost all of the pictures come from the same source: Die souveränen Fürstenhäuser Europas (1898-99), giving it a certain stylistic and chronological consistency. The only exceptions are Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898) and Grand Duke George of Russia (1871-1899), who both died before the second volume was published (it depicted only living people) but had to be included to keep to the June 1898 theme. 

Until the shocking murder of Empress Elisabeth in Geneva that September, royal assassinations (apart from that of Alexander II of Russia in 1881) in Europe since the end of the French Revolutionary era had been quite rare; European royalty could be fairly confident they would die of natural causes. However, from then on major royal assassinations became disturbingly frequent (1898, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1908, 1913, 1914), culminating in the horrors of the Russian Revolution two decades later. (It's perhaps worth noting that during the same era presidents of the world's two leading republics, the USA and France, were assassinated in 1865, 1881, 1894, and 1901.) So the summer of 1898 can be seen as the tail end of a relatively calm time, though Europe would enjoy sixteen more years of general peace before the real apocalypse.

For absolute pictorial consistency an 1899 version is here; by then, no thrones had changed hands but the monarchs of Denmark, Austria, and Bulgaria had all been widowed, and the Tsar had buried his beloved younger brother.

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