Wednesday, April 11, 2018


The owner of these wonderful images of flags and heads of state in the world in 1909 kindly gave me permission to use them on a page at my website, so here it is, for all your Edwardian nostalgia needs. I realized while making it that this series of cards can be quite precisely dated: to between March 4, when William Howard Taft became President, and April 27, when Sultan Abdul Hamid II was deposed.
I didn't feel like adding all the other republics (mostly in Latin America). Maybe I'll look up their presidents and add them eventually, but I think it's fine this way. France, Mexico, and the USA were pretty much the only republics that really mattered then anyway. (Well, OK, Switzerland, but their President doesn't. Can you name the current President of Switzerland? I didn't think so.)

Note that the Kings of the United Kingdom & Romania and the Emperor of Japan lack their own images but are pictured in the 1908 postcard at the bottom of the page.
I think what I love so much about Belle Époque Europe (1871-1914) is that it was modern enough not to seem completely foreign to us today, yet traditional enough that royal families with their roots in the early Middle Ages remained at least nominally sovereign in most countries, and Modernity was limited enough that when you wanted to get away from it you could. Unlike earlier eras, they had trains, they had photography, they had widely and easily circulated newspapers and magazines, the telegraph allowed for long distance communication, and the symphony orchestra existed in its modern form, with most of the repertoire considered standard today already written. Standardized time zones, borders, flags, and anthems were firmly established. But in rural areas and small villages, life continued much as it had for centuries. Both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches remained firmly rooted in their traditional liturgy. Not everyone whose ancestors had belonged to them still believed in them, but those who did go to church could be confident they were getting the same religion. It was possible (probably for the last time) to be both a conservative with a firm belief in Monarchy as the best form of government and confident in the future of Western Civilisation.

1 comment:

Aaron Traas said...

What an age of glorious mustaches!

Seriously, thanks for posting this. These are great!