All About Royal Families: maart 2021

Who is who? Limburg Stirum?

One of the oldest families in Europe is without any doubt The House of 
Limburg Stirum. It is the eldest and only surviving branch of the
House of Berg, which was among the most powerful dynasties in the
region of the Lower Rhine duing the Middle Ages. 

Some History

The Counts of Limburg descended from Count Adolf I van Berg. 

Diederik I, Count of Isenberg-Limburg received in 1243 a part of
his father's territorium and he called himself: of Limburg. He also
possessed the manor of Stirum. 

However the titles of the House of Limburg Stirum were confirmed in 
1812 by Napoleon Bonaparte. 

In 1814 the family was recognised in the nobility of the Kingdom of
The Netherlands. 

Who is who?

Herman Otto II of Limburg Stirum (1675-1704) fought in the
War of the Spanish Succession in the service of the Holy Roman
Emperor, Leopold I, against France and Bavaria. He lost the
Battle of Höchstadt and the Battle of Schellenberg. 

Leopold, Count of Limburg Stirum (1758-1840) was
Lieutenant General of 
Dutch Infantry and member of the Driemanschap, that took power
in 1813 to establish the monarchy in the Netherlands. The three 
statesmen invited the exiled Prince of Orange to The Hague to 
avoid anarchy following the retreat of France's troops and to avoid
possible absorption of the Netherlands by Prussia or England. The
Prince of Orange became later King William I of the Netherlands. 

Mathilde of Limburg Stirum (1854 - 1932) was known as the lover 
of William Prince of Orange (1840-1879) but they could not marry to
each other due to King William III of The Netherlands. (There were
rumours that Mathilde was his illegitimate daughter). 

Johan Paul van Limburg Stirum (1873-1948) was a Dutch diplomat
and reformist Governor General of the Dutch East Indies. He worked
for the economic development. He would later become ambassador to 
Berlin where he was known for his critical views on National Socialism,
even refusing Nazi officials entry to the Dutch embassy. After leaving
Berlin he would serve as Dutch envoy to London. 

Otto Ernst Gelder van Limburg Stirum was a Dutch magistrate and
maternal uncle of Audrey Hepburn. He was taken hostage by German
occupiers and executed in 1942. 

Charles de Limburg Stirum (1906-1989) was a Belgian senator, and
a member of the armed resistance during World War II. Later he was 
Grand Master of the Royal Households of King Leopold III of Belgium.
He became a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in the 
Austrian brand. 

Count Evrard de Limburg Stirum (1927-2001) the oldest son of
Thierry, Count of Limburg Stirum and Princess Marie-Immaculée de
Croÿ, married Princess Hélène of Orléans (1934).She is the daughter
of Henri d'Orléans, the Comte de Paris and the Orléanist claimant to
the throne of France. 

Count Rudolphe de Limburg Stirum, a son of Count Christian de 
Limburg Stirum and grandson of Count Thierry married on 6 December
2008 in Mechelen, Archduchess Marie-Christine of Austria. She is the
great-granddaughter of King Leopold III through her mother 
Archduchess Marie Astrid of Austria and of Emperor Charles I of Austria,
through her father Archduke Carl Christian of Austria. 

Most of the family members live nowadays in Belgium and
the Netherlands. 

Source pictures: Wikipedia

Who was Charles-Marie Bonaparte?

On 27 March 1746, Carlo Maria Buonaparte also called Charles-Marie Bonaparte
was born in Ajaccio Corsica (then a part of the Republic of Genoa) as the youngest
of three children. 


His parents were Giuseppe Buonaparte, who had represented Ajaccio at the Council
of Corte in 1749 and Maria Saveria Paravicini. 

The Corsican Buonapartes were descended from minor Italian nobility of Tuscan
origin, who had come to Corsica from Liguria in the 16th. century. 

Carlo studied to be a lawyer at the Pisa University but he left before earning his
degree to take charge of family responsibilities. 

Love and marriage

Carlo married Donna Maria Letizia Ramolino. Both were of Corsican nobility and
very young at the time of their marriage. Carlo was 17, Letizia was 13!
Their marriage was arranged. 

They would have 13 children between 1768 and 1784. Five of them died, eight
children survived. 

Among them: Napoleon Bonaparte, who became later Emperor of the French. 

Gaining Power

In June 1764, Carlo worked as a secretary and personal assistant to Pasquale Paoli.
Paoli sent him to Rome to negotiate with Pope Clement XIII in 1766. 

When Carlo returned to Corsica, the Republic of Genoa had offered Corsica to
King Louis XV of France as payment for a debt. The French were eager to 
obtain the strategically placed island for the protection of their own coasts. 

Carlo Buonaparte embraced the new government and he was appointed
Assessor of the Royal Jurisdiction of Ajaccio and the neighbouring districts
on 20 September 1769. Shortly after that, he became a Doctor of Law at the
University of Pisa on 27 November 1769.

On 13 September 1771, Carlo's nobility was confirmed. He was named 
representative to the Court of Louis XVI of France at Versailles in 1778.

Buonaparte embarked then in risky business enterprises. He made many claims
on land and money through legal means, but his success was limited and
he burned through his finances rapidly. He was fond of gambling and this 
worsened his monetary difficulties. 


On 24 February 1785 Carlo Maria Buonaparte died due to it was believed to
stomach cancer. 

Source pictures: Wikipedia

The Roman Series: Emperor Otho

Marcus Salvius Otho was born on 28 April 32 AD as the son of Lucius Alvius Otho
and Terentia Albia. He was born in Ferento, a former city in Lazio
(nowadays located in central Italy).

Way to power

Otho's grandfather had been a senator and Claudius granted Otho's father patrician

An aged freedwoman brought Otho in the company of the emperor Nero. Otho
married the emperor's mistress Poppae Sabina. Later Nero forced Otho to divorce
Poppae so that he himself could marry her. Otto was exiled to the province of
Lusitania. There he became a capable governor. 

Otho allied himself with Galba, then governor of neighboring Hispania Tarraconensis.
Later Galba was proclaimed emperor by the Senate. Otho accompanied the new 
emperor to Rome in October 68. 

Galba was kiled by the Praetorians on 15 January 69. Otho was proclaimed Emperor.


Vitellius, the commander of the legions on the lower Rhine River, was already
advancing upon Italy. Otho prepared for war. 


Early in the morning  of 16 April 69 (at the age of 36) he stabbed himself in the
heart with a dagger, and he died as his attendants entered the tent. He had reigned
only for three months. 

Traces from the past in Rome - own picture taken in 2017

Source picture: Wikipedia

Who was Napoleon II?

Napoléon François Joseph Charles Bonaparte was born on 20 March 1811 at
the Tuileries Palace in Paris. 


His parents were Emperor Napoleon I of France and Empress Marie Louise 
born Marie Louise of Austria). 

Since his birth Napoléon II had been Prince Imperial of France and King of
Rome as well. 


On 9 June 1811 Napoléon II was baptised in the Notre Dame de Paris.

Napoléon was put in the care of Louise Charlotte Françoise Le Tellier 
de Montesquiou. She was affectionate and intelligent. The governess
assembled a considerable collection of books intended to give the infant
a strong grounding in religion philosophy, and military matters. 

Napoleon I saw his second wife and their son for the last time on
24 January 1814. 

The Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1814 gave Napoleon II the right to use
the title of Prince of Parma, of Placentia and Guastalla. His mother was
styled the Duchess of Parma, of Placentia and of Guastalla. 

On 13 April 1814, Marie Louise and her three-year-old son Napoleon II, 
met Emperor Francis I of Austria (Marie Louise's father) and 
Tsar Alexander I of Russia. 

On 23 April 1814, Napoleon II and his mother left France forever, they
went in exile in Austria.



In 1815, after his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon I abdicated for the 
2nd time in favour of his four-year-old son, whom he had not seen since
his exile to Elba. However Napoleon II stayed with his mother in Austria.

Life in Austria

Since 1814 the young Napoleon lived in Austria, where he was known as
Franz. In 1818 he was awarded with the title of Duke of Reichstadt by his
maternal grandfather Emperor Francis.

He was educated by a staff of military tutors and developed a passion for
soldiering, dressing in a miniature uniform like his father's and performing
maneuvers in the palace. 

By 1820, Napoleon had completed his elementary studies and begun his 
military training. He learned German, Italian and mathematics as well. 

In 1823, he was made a cadet in the Austrian Army. He was a very tall 
young man and described as intelligent, serious and focused. 

Franz grew distant from his mother and fell that his Austrian family
were holding him back to avoid political controversy. 

He was noted from his friendship with Sophie (the mother of Franz Joseph),
a Bavarian princess of the House of Wittelsbach. There even were rumours
of a love affair between Sophie and Napoleon II.


In 1831, Napoleon II alias Franz was given command of an Austrian battalion,
but he had never the chance to serve.

In 1832, Napoleon II caught pneumonia and he was bedridden for several

On 22 July 1832 Napoleon II died of tuberculosis at Schönbrunn Palace in
Vienna. He had no children. Thus the Napoleonic claim of the throne of
France passed to his cousin, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. 

On 15 December 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered the remains of Napoleon II
to be transferred from Vienna to the dome of Les Invalides in Paris. 
However, inter alia his heart remained in Vienna. 

Schönbrunn Vienna: own picture taken in 2011

Des Invalides- Paris - own picture taken in 2017

Source pictures: Wikipedia - except the two I took myself during the travels. 

Is horse riding a royal hobby?


Equestrian is commonly known as horse riding. It includes the disciplines of
riding, driving, or vaulting with horses. 

own picture

Some history

The exact date horses were domesticated is unknown, just as the date when 
they were first ridden. The best estimate is that horses first were ridden about
3500 BC. 

Equestrianism was introduced in the 1900 Summer Olympics as a Olympic
sport with jumping events. 

By 1912, all three Olympic disciplines still seen today were a part of the
games. They are governed by the rules of the International Federation for 
Equestrian Sports (FEI).

* Dressage;
* Show Jumping;
* Eventing. 

Royals and their love for horse riding


On 2 January 1743, Maria Theresa of Austria held a ladies carousel in the
Winter Riding School of the Hofburg. 

Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) (1837 - 1898)  was a keen equestrian.
She loved horse riding. She rode every day for hours on end.
She became the world's best-known female equestrian at her time.

Emperor Franz Joseph, the husband of Sisi, was an inveterate traveller and 

Austria even had its own world famous Spanish Riding School, near the
Hofburg Palace in Vienna. They work with Lipizzans. 

own picture taken in Vienna in 2011


One of the most famous members of the Belgian royal family who adored horse
riding was Marie Henriette of Austria. She was Queen of the Belgians from 1865
till 1902.

Upon her marriage, Pauline de Metternich said:

"It was a marriage between a stable-boy and a nun. And the nun, I meant the
Duke of Brabant."

On a later age, she left Brussels for Spa, where she dedicated herself 
on her hobby. 


In 1482, after a hunt in the woods near Wijnendale Castle (nowadays in 
Belgium), Mary of Burgundy (who loved horse riding) was thrown from
her horse and the horse landed on her. She broke her back and died on
27 March 1482 at the age of 25. Her husband (later Emperor Maximilian
I of Austria) grieved hard. She was buried in Bruges. 

Czech Republic

Countess Lata Brandisová (1895 - 1981) was a famous Czech equestrian and
the only woman who won the Great Pardubice Steeplechase. Her victory over
the Nazi officers in 1937 was seen as a symbol of Czech resistance against 
Nazi Germany. 


Princess Nathalie zu Sayn - Wittgenstein- Berleburg (born 1975),
is the daughter of Princess Benedikte of Denmark (the sister of Queen
Margrethe II of Denmark).

She also is a keen equestrian. She won a Bronze Medal on the
European Championship with the Danish team. She also participated
during the 2000 Olympics and in London 2012 as well. In the 2008
summer Olympics she and the Danish dressure team won a Bronze
Medal. She opened up her own stud farm. 


King Francis I of France loved archery, falconry, riding horses,
hunting, jousting, real tennis and wrestling. 

King Henry II of France died while participating on a tournament
on 30 June 1559. 

Of course the most famous horse rider in history of France was
Napoleon Bonaparte, who became Emperor of France. Marengo
was the name of his horse. It was named after the Battle of Marengo. 

In 1815 Marengo was captured after the Battle of Waterloo by
William Petre, 11th. Baron Petre. He brought the horse to the 
United Kingdom. Later the skeleton of Marengo was preserved and it
is now on display at the National Army Museum in London. 


Prince Sigismund of Prussia (1891-1927) and his wife (Marie Louise of
Schaumburg-Lippe) were keen lovers of horse riding. He was considered
of one of the best horsemen of Germany. The couple spent much of their
time training horses at their estate in Mecklenburg as well as Glienicke 
Palace near Potsdam. He and his wife were very popular in Germany. 

On 5 July 1927, Prince Sigismund was riding in an international tournament
in Lucerne in Switzerland. There he fell from his horse, he broke five ribs 
and caused other injuries. He was brought to a hospital, but he died the next
day at the age of 35. 


On 17 May 1395, Queen Mary of Hungary decided to go hunting in a Buda
forest. At that moment she was pregnant. Her horse tripped her, threw her
and landed on top of her. She died the same day as well as her stillborn son. 

Anna of Bohemia and Hungary(1503-1547) liked to ride on horses. She 
became the wife of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. 


The House of Merwar in Rajasthan (North West of India) had bred the
Marwari horse at the begin of the 12th. century. The horses were used in the
cavalry. After the British rule, the horse almost went extinct but now they
are trying to save this type of horse! 

Radmanabh Sing (born in 1988) is a member of the not reigning royal family
of Jaipur. He is a keen polo player. 


Lorenzo de' Medici participated in jousting, hawking, hunting and horse
breeding for the Palio horse race in Siena. In 1496, at the age of 20, he 
won a prize in a jousting tournament sponsored by his family. 

Charles Albert (1798-1849), King of Sardinia from 1831 until 1849 had a personal
horse called Favorito. He rode on him during the campaigns of 1848. After the
exile of Charles Albert, Favorito joined his master to Porto. When Charles Albert
died in 1849, Favorito was brought back to the Royal Stables in Turin (Italy). 


Princess Haya bint Hussein, the daughter of King Hussein of Jordan and 
Queen Alia, half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan is an accomplished
equestrian. She represented Jordan at the 2000 Summer Olympics in 
Sydney Australia and is the two-term President of the International
Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). In 2004, she became the second
official wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of
the Emirate of Dubai. On 15 April 2019, Princess Haya left Dubai with
the two children of the marriage to reside in the United Kingdom.


Tunku Ismail Idris, Crown Prince of Johor (born in 1984) is a polo
enthusiast and a skilful horse rider. He was bestowed with the 
Best Riding Award among IMA cadets between 2003 and 2004. 

Ottoman Empire

The main sports in the Ottoman Empire were inter alia wrestling, archery
and horseback riding. Besides this, the horse was important for travelling
and during a battle. 

Sultan Ahmed I (1590-1617) is known for his love for fencing, poetry,
horseback riding and he was fluent in several languages.

Sultan Abdul Hamid I (1725-1789) bred Arabian horses with great passion.


King Dom Pedro IV of Portugal, better known as Pedro I of Brazil
was a keen horseman. He trained unbroken with horses and he also
became an excellent farrier. 

own picture taken in 2019 in Porto


Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia (1891-1942), a son of
Grand Duke Paule Alexandrovic of Russia and Princess Alexandra
of Greece and Denmark, followed a military career. He was commissioned
as a cornet in the Horse Guards Regiment. He was an excellent equestrian.
He participated at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. 

Saudi Arabia

King Khalid of Saudi Arabia (1913-1982) had as favourite pastimes:
falconry and horse riding. He was described as a man from the desert.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (1924-2015) was an expert equestrian
in his youth. His stables were considered the largest in Saudi Arabia
with over 1,000 horses spread throughout five divisions led by his son
Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah. The King also owned Janadria Farm, a large
complex located in the suburbs of Riyadh. 


King Philip IV of Spain (1605-1665) was a fine horseman. He liked horses,
dogs and art. 

Queen Maria Luisa of Parma (1751-1818) was the wife of King Carlos IV
of Spain. She was painted by Goya on an horseback. This work can be seen at
the Prado Museum in Madrid. 

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, the 18th. Duchess of Alba (1926-2014)  also was a
keen horse rider. 

The royal Andalusian school of  Equestrian Art is located in Jerez de la Frontera.
It is one of the Big Four riding academies in the world. The school is dedicated to
the Andalusian horse. 

own pictures taken in 2005

The Netherlands

It is known that former Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands loves to ride
on horses. This passion is transferred to King Willem-Alexander of 
The Netherlands and on Princess Amalia, Princess Arianne and Princes
Alexia as well.

It is also known that Princess Margarita de Bourbon-Parma likes to
ride horses. She is president of the Jumping of Amsterdam. 

King Willem II of The Netherlands also was a keen horse rider.

United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, horse riding is very popular because it 
is something that appeals all ages. Horses were the Porsches or the 
Ferrari's of the ancient world. Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai is a
major figure in international horse racing and breeding. 

United Kingdom

In 1702 William of Orange(William III of England), died of pneumonia,
a complication from a broken collarbone following a fall from his
horse, Sorrel. 

Queen Victoria was pictured while horse riding. She transferred her 
passion to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen) and to Princess Anne and
Zara Tindall as well. 

Burmese, a police horse was given to Queen Elizabeth II by the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police and was riden by the Queen 
for Trooping the Colours from 1969 to 1986. 

The Queen riding in 1982 on Burmese
during a state visit of Ronald Reagan. 

Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, the Prince of Wales, 
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex are all keen polo players. They play
sometimes polo for charity events. 

own picture

Thank you

A special thank you to:

Oscar Meijer 
Geert Janssens
Netty Royal 

for your cooperation and your very useful information and tips!! 

Source pictures: Wikipedia except the ones I took during travels and at home. 

Who is King John II of Castile?

 On 6 March 1405, John (in Spanish Juan) was born at Toro, Zamora. 


John was the son of King Henry III of Castile and Catherine of Lancaster.

His paternal grandparents were John I, King of Castile (after who John was
named) and Eleanor of Aragon. 

His maternal grandparents were John of Gaunt, 1st. Duke of Lancaster and
Constance of Castile. 

John was a member of the house of Trastámara.


On 25 December 1406, John became King of Castile and León. His mother 
and his uncle, King Ferdinand I of Aragon, were co-regents during his
minority. When Ferdinand I died in 1416, his mother governed alone until
her death in 1418.

The rule of King John II of Castile lasted 48 years, it was one of the
longest in Castilian history, although John himself was not a great monarch.

He spent his time verse-making, hunting and holding tournaments. 

Love and Marriage 

In 1418, John married Maria of Aragon, the oldest daughter of his
paternal uncle: Ferdinand I of Aragon. They had 4 children together. 
Among them the future King Henry IV of Castile. 

John was widowed in 1445 and he remarried to Isabella of Portugal.
She was the daughter of Infante John of Portugal. 

John and Isabella had two children together:

Queen Isabella I of Castile;
Alfonso, Prince of Asturias. 


John II died on 20 July 1454 at Valladolid at the age of 49. 

The Kingdom of Castile

The crown of Castile existed in its own rights within the Spanish crown
and with its own law until the arrival of the Bourbon dynasty after the
War of the Spanish Succession. 

Source picture: Wikipedia

The Roman Series : Emperor Galba

68-69 The year of the Four Emperors

Birth & family

Serverius Sulpicius Galba (sounds as a name in Harry Potter) was born near
Terracina on 24 December 3 BC. 

He was not related to any of the emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty but
he was a member of a distinguished noble family. 

Love and marriage

Galba had a sexual preference for men above women. Nevertheless he married
a woman named Azmilia Lepida and he had two sons. Aemilia and their sons
died during the early years of the reign of Claudius (41-54) and Galba would
remain a widower for the rest of his life.

Public life

Galba became praetor in about 30, then he became governor of Aquitania for 
about a year, then consul in 33. 

In 39, Emperor Caligula learned of a plot against himself in which Gnaeus
Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, the general of the Upper German legions was
a key figure.

Caligula installed Galba in the post held by Gaetulicus. As commander, Galba
gained a reputation as a disciplinarian. 

Galba was appointed as governor of Africa in 44 or 45. He retired at an 
uncertain time during the reign of Claudius, possibly in 49.

Galba was recalled in 59 or 60 by Emperor Nero to govern Hispania. 


On 8 June 68 Nymphidius Sabinus, falsely announced to the Praetorian Guard
that Nero had fled to Egypt and the Senate proclaimed Galba emperor. Nero
then died.

Nymphidius Sabinus was killed by the Praetorians before he could take the 

When Galba was arriving to Rome, his army was attacked by a legion that had
been organized by Nero. Galba seized the property of Roman citizens, disbanded 
the German legions and did not pay the Praetorians and soldiers who fought
against Vindex. These actions caused him to become unpopular.

Rebellion and death

On 1 January 69, the fourth and the twenty-second legions of Upper Germany 
refused to swear loyalty to Galba. They toppled his statues and demanded that
a new emperor could be chosen. 

On 15 January 69, Galba was lured out to the scene of his assassination in the 
Forum by a false report of the conspirators. Galba was killed near the 
Lacus Curtius. 

After the death of Galba, Otho became the new Emperor but not for long. 

The look of the emperor

Galba was of average of height, very bald, with blue eyes and a hooked nose.
He could not endure a shoe for long, unroll a book or even hold one because
his hands and feet were so distorted by gout. 

It is said that he was a heavy eater and in winter time he was in the habit of
taking food even before daylight, while at the dinner he helped himself so 
lavishly that he would have the leavings which remained in a heap before him
passed along and distributed among the attendants who waited on him....

Source pictures: Wikipedia