Lectures

Princess Michael is not only a respected historian and author but also a skilled communicator who brings history alive by combining witty oratory with vivid presentations. Demonstrating that history is not only about dates and events she brings personalities to life and describes events that made a considerable impact not only at that time but that have affected many aspects of life through the years.

Please see below the lectures in Princess Michael’s repertoire. However, Princess Michael is not limited to only these lectures and regularly researches new topics if they are an area of special interest to her audience.

To enquire about Princess Michael’s availability as a speaker please use the enquiries form

 

The Garden in History

“The Empress Josephine at Malmaison”

Born in Martinique, she introduced to France many plants and flowers from the Caribean, had Napoleon send ships to newly discovered Australia, and in her greenhouses at Malmaison, developed the perpetually-flowering rose. She was the patron of Redouté and created the greatest horticultural garden in France at the time.

“The Winter Queen at Heidelberg”

Elizabeth Stuart, beautiful older sister of King Charles I, created at her husband’s capital Heidelberg, gardens known then as a Wonder of the World. Married to the Elector Palatine Frederick V, their rash acceptance of the throne of Bohemia began the Thirty Years War.

“Sixty Years of Royal Gardening:Madame de Pompador, Marie-Antoinette, Empress Josephine”

This talk encompasses the changes from the formal terraces of Madame de Pompadour’s houses and her greenhouses where she mixed Sévrès porcelain flowers with nature, to the influence of Rousseau on Marie Antoinette who introded the cottage garden, to the innovative experimentation of Josephine with the unknown plants and trees brought from the New World.

“Louis XIV and the Gardens of Versailles”

Louis made the gardens first, great open green rooms where he entertained his guests before there was a chateau large enough. He held his famous fêtes champêtre there especially during the short season of the rose’s flowering, magnificent open air banquets and concerts before the guests were obliged to find a cottage or stable to sleep the night.


General

“The Winter Queen of Bohemia - 16th Century”

In 1613, Elizabeth Stuart, beautiful daughter of King James I of England, married Frederick V of the Palatine, leader of the Protestant Union of Princes.  Their blissful existence at their capital of Heidelberg came to an end when they accepted the throne of Bohemia and were crowned in Prague as King and Queen.  When Bohemia ceded from the Catholic Holy Roman Empire, the emperor predicted that the new King and Queen would last just "one winter".  In 1620, the Protestant forces were indeed defeated at the Battle of the White Mountain and the Thirty Years War began.  In the summer of her youth, Elizabeth was called "The Queen of Hearts".  Thereafter she would forever be known as “The Winter Queen”.

“Royal Power: The Substance and the Show”

various topics, 17th, 18th and 19th century - royalty and politics

“Monarchy and Motherhood: The Road to Power”

Great Royal mothers (and fathers) in history and the success and failure of their offspring, looking at how their upbringing changed not only their lives but the history of their countries:  Henry VIII of England for example and his children, Edward VI, Mary Tudor and the great Elizabeth I, daughter of Anne Boleyn.

“Historical Aspects of the Great Silk Road”

Silk was manufactured in north eastern China in the greatest secrecy for thousands of years before the West knew how it was made.  Nonetheless, bales of silk managed to be carried by camel from Imperial China to Imperial Rome.  Not until Marco Polo travelled from China back to Europe in the 13th Century did it become known how silk was actually made.  As well as silk, merchants traded in much more - spices, precious stones and porcelain amongst other desirable goods.  They made their way over icy mountain passes and along the edges of deserts with temperatures varying from -50 at night to +50 by day.  As well as the temperatures, traders had to survive sandstorms, quick sand, lack of water - and robbers.  Theirs is a fascinating story of alternating greed and heroism. 


18th Century Europe

“Francois I and the French Renaissance”

Known as the Salamander King, Francois brought the Rrenaissance to France and built many of the glorious chateaux of the Loire to hunt and entertain his court.

“Life at the Court of Francois I”

More of the above.

“Diane de Poitiers and the French Renaissance”

Eighteen years older than the King Henri II, Diane de Poitiers shaped the culture and mystery of the French court in the early sixteen century.

“Diane de Poitiers – The King’s Mistress”

How she became the most powerful and influential woman in France at the time.

“Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici: Rivals for the King’s Love”

Catherine was Queen and did all she could to win the love of her husband from Diane de Poitiers even resorting to witchcraft.

“Francois I and the Chateaux of the Loire”
 
“Catherine de Medici, Machiavellian Queen and Regent”
 
“The Power behind the Throne”
 
“Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother and Regent to Three Kings of France”
 
“The Revenge of Catherine de Medici”

As long as her husband the king lived, she could never make a move against his mistress Diane de Poitiers.  His tragic death gave her the power and the opportunity to revenge herself and assume her rightful place as Queen Regent.
 

“Catherine de Medici – mother of Three French Kings”
 
“Henri IV - Protestant and Catholic Turmoil in France”

The first Bourbon king of France inherited the chaos created by the terrible wars of religion under the last of the Valois.
 

“The Private Life of Henri IV, King of France and Navarre”

One of the most attractive kings to ever sit on the throne of France, Henri IV indulged in a most varied private life.

“The Influence of China in the Arts of mid 18th Century Europe”

China became not only an inspiration but an obsession in a number of European courts in mid 18th Century Europe.  The influence of China on all the arts was promoted by many international personalities - Catherine the Great, Marie-Antoinette to mention just two of them


Italy 16th Century

“The Rennaissance Courtesans of Venice”

Only courtesans posed for the great portraits of classical heroines of Renaissance times and the most beautiful were in Venice, known as the brothel of the world.


England 17th Century

“Nell Gwyn - Favourite of Charles II of England”

Born in the gutter, Nell Gwyn rose to become a loved commedienne on the London stage until she captured the heart of England’s best loved king. However, she was not alone.

“Charles II and the Restoration Court in England”

A young king surrounded by a young court at last able to enjoy life after years of hardship in exile.  Life was bawdy and full of risks, but rewards were great in every field of endeavour.

“Machiavellian Monarch: Life and Politics in Charles II’s England”

A restored monarch dependent for funds on Parliament, secretly negotiating with Louis XIV of France, and warring with the Dutch, Charles II managed to become the best loved king England ever had.

“Nell Gwyn and her Rivals in Love for Charles II”

Known affectionately as ‘the Protestant whore’ of Charles II, Nell fought tenaciously to keep the king’s love for herself and her sons, through her wit and honesty.  Only at Nell’s house could the king be sure there were no spies.

“Charles II: The King and The People”

His father had lost his head, Charles II was going to see he kept his.  With charm and good sense as well as courage especially during the Great Fire and The Plague, Charles II became the best loved king England ever had.

“The Sport of Kings: The Early Days of the Thoroughbred during the Reign of Charles II”

Horse racing took on a new dimension under Charles II with the start of Newmarket as a course for racing.  Bloodstock was refined and the thoroughbred became official, exported to the New World by the younger sons of the English aristocracy.


France 17th Century

“Louis XIV: The Substance and the Show”

In creating Versailles, Louis XIV was able to keep his nobles so occupied with frivolity and powerless privilege that they had no time to plot rebellion.

“The Sun King, Louis XIV”

Life and Politics of 17th Century France

“Louis XIV and the Arts of 17th Century France”

Versailles became a showpiece of art and architecture in France which the kings and princes of Europe rushed to imitate.


France 18th Century

“The Arts of mid-18th Century France”
“Life at the Court of Louis XV”

Rousseau and Les Philosophes were changing the thinking of the mid-eighteenth century not only in politics and literature, but also in everyday life, theatre, fashion, gardens, and the Court led society.

“La Douceur de Vivre”

Life in France 50 years prior to the Revolution.

“Madame de Pompadour and the Sévrès Factory”

In order to amuse the King, his mistress moved the loss making royal factory of Vincennes to Sévrès  near her beautiful house Bellevue and under her tasteful eye.

“Madame de Pompadour – Mistress of Taste”

She was the most cultured and clever woman of her time, influencing the arts and decorative arts until they reached a perfection not known before or since.


Italy 18th Century

“Italy and the Grand Tour”

With peace in Europe, the young English scions of the nobility were sent to Italy for two or three years to complete their classical education with their tutor.  It was not all work and no play. 

“Venice and the Grand Tour”

More focus on Venice, the Serene Republic.


Russia 18th Century

“The Rise to Power of Catherine the Great”

Born an obscure German princess, this dynamic, ambitious woman became one of the great monarchs of her time, writing laws, acquiring huge territories and entire collections of art.  She won wars and hearts with equal ease. 

“Catherine the Great: Love, War and Work”

She rose early each day and accomplished more than anyone who worked for her, though, as she herself said, she could not live a day without love. Prince Orlov and Prince Potemkin have retained their position in her legend.

“Catherine and her Architect Cameron”

Cameron built and decorated Catherine’s greatest palaces, inventing a new personal for himself as did the empress in this fascinating country.

“Catherine the Great and the Arts in 18C Russia”

Europe 19th Century

“Lola Montez: Her Life and Times”

Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets’ ran the song, and it    was true.  With her beauty and charm she won the hearts of most of the crowned heads of Europe until in 1848, the Year of Revolutions, she lost King Ludwig of Bavaria his throne.

“Lola Montez and the King of Bavaria”

Lola could do anything with the king but the king had trouble doing anything with Lola who caused riots among the students fraternities and society.

“Lola Montez - the Great Adventuress”

Once expelled from Bavaria, and with her reputation in tatters throughout Europe, Lola left for the New World, America and Australia and continued in her original though ultimately destructive way.


France 19th Century

“The Eagle and the Dove – Napoleon and Marie Walewska”

The conqueror of the West fell in love with this simple Polish countess who gave him a son and proved he could sire a dynasty. Once Napoleon divorced Josephine, his star began to wane.

“The Empress Josephine at Malmaison”

They bought the house together and here Napoleon and Josephine shared their greatest triumphs.  Here she created her famous gardens and zoo of rare animals.  Here Napoleon divorced her.

“Napoleon and Josephine – Love in the Shadow of Revolution”