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The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made It Into the Twenty-First Century by Peter Conradi. Tells the story of seven European reigning dynasties: the personalities, the history, their role in politics and society, the way they are financed, their relationship with the media and the (minimal) threat they face from republicanism.
Royalty Who Wait: The 21 Heads of Formerly Royal Houses of Europe by Olga S. Opfell. A reference book published in 2001.
Aristocracy and the Modern World by Ellis Wasson. The first comprehensive study of the traditional European ruling class during the 19th and 20th centuries. Topics include wealth, family, recreation, gender, local authority and national power.
Princely Treasures by Geza Von Habsburg-Lothringen. European royal treasures from the medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, including ceramics, paintings, sculptures, and silver.
Symbols of Power in Art by Paola Rapelli. Examines not only regal paraphernalia such as crowns, scepters, thrones, and orbs, but also the painted portraits, sculptures, tapestries, carved ivories, jewelry, coins, armor, and photographs created to display power.
The Royal Families of Europe by Geoffrey Hindley is about modern royal families, both reigning and deposed. Published in 2001.
Sex With Kings: 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman. A history of royal mistresses. You can read my review of the book here.
Sex With the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics by Eleanor Herman. How did queens find happiness? Many had love affairs. This book discusses Anne Boleyn, Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, Princess Diana, and other royal women.
Royal Romances: Titillating Tales of Passion and Power in the Palaces of Europe by Leslie Carroll. Includes the love stories of Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon, Catherine the Great and Grigory Potemkin, Marie Antoinette and Count Axel von Fersen, and today's Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny, and Desire by Leslie Carroll. A "funny, raucous, and delightfully dirty" 900-year history of European royal marriages.
Inglorious Royal Marriages: A Demi-Millennium of Unholy Mismatrimony by Leslie Carroll. Outrageous real-life stories of royal marriages gone wrong, including Margaret Tudor and Mary I, who were desperately in love with unfaithful husbands; two Medici princesses who were murdered by their husbands; and Charles II's sister Minette, whose husband wore more makeup than she did.
Royal Love Stories by Gill Paul. The tales behind the real-life romances of Europe's kings and queens.
Dissolving Royal Marriages: A Documentary History, 860-1600 edited by David d'Avray. Drawing from original translations of key source documents, the book sheds new light on elite divorces and annulments. Topics include Eleanor of Aquitaine, King John of England, Plaisance of Cyprus, Alfonso III of Portugal, Margaret Tudor of Scotland, and Henri IV of France.
Royal Pains: A Rogues' Gallery of Brats, Brutes, and Bad Seeds by Leslie Carroll. Looks at some of European history's boldest, baddest, and bawdiest royals.
Royal Babylon: The Alarming History of European Royalty by Karl Shaw. Presents European royals as "a collection of madmen, philanderers, sexual misfits, sociopaths, and tragic emotional cripples."
Royal Blunders by Geoffrey Regan. Learn about the Hapsburg emperor who ate himself to death, the medieval French monarch who was utterly convinced that he was made of glass, and more.
Murder and Monarchy: Regicide in European History, 1300-1800 edited by Robert von Friedeburg. Fifteen leading scholars examine case studies of physical assaults on kings and on members of royal families.
Royal Murders: Hatred, Revenge, and the Seizing of Power by Dulcie M. Ashdown discusses murders of and by European royals over the past 1,000 years.
Royal Maladies: Inherited Diseases in the Royal Houses of Europe by Alan R. Rushton, M.D., Ph.D. A study of the hereditary diseases hemophilia and porphyria in the personal and political lives of the European royal families.
Queen Victoria's Gene by D. M. Potts and W. T. W. Potts. About the hemophilia gene Queen Victoria passed down to her descendants and how it affected modern European history.
Premodern Rulers and Postmodern Viewers: Gender, Sex, and Power in Popular Culture edited by Janice North, Karl C. Alvestad, and Elena Woodacre. How the lives of European monarchs have been mythologized on-screen to appeal to today's audiences.
Europe: A History by Norman Davies. The first major history of Europe to give equal weight to both East and West, from the Ice Age to the Atomic Age.
Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations by Norman Davies. An account of 14 European kingdoms -- their rise, maturity, and eventual disappearance. Includes Aragon, Etruria, and the Kingdom of the Two Burgundies.
The Penguin History of Europe by J. M. Roberts. The tale of the European continent, from its Neolithic origins and early civilizations of the Aegean to the 21st century.
The Oxford Illustrated History of Prehistoric Europe by Barry Cunliffe. A comprehensive account of prehistoric Europe from the coming of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire.
European History for Dummies by Dr. Seán Lang. The disasters, triumphs, power struggles and politics that have shaped Europe from the Stone Age to the 21st century.
The European Nobilities: Western and Southern Europe edited by Hamish Scott. A collection of essays about nobility in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The European Nobilities: Northern, Central and Eastern Europe edited by Hamish Scott. More essays.
The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe by Michael Pye. Saints and spies, pirates and philosophers, artists and intellectuals criss-crossed the North Sea during the Dark Ages.
Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 by Sara McDougall. Well into the late 12th century, ideas of what made a child a legitimate heir depended upon the social status and lineage of both parents, not their marital status. Includes genealogical charts of the House of Jerusalem and Iberian royal houses.
Royal and Elite Households in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: More Than Just a Castle edited by Theresa Earenfight. Topics include the nuclear and extended royal family, their household attendants, noblemen and noblewomen as courtiers, and physicians.
Rebel Barons: Resisting Royal Power in Medieval Culture by Luke Sunderland. Epic poems, prose, and chronicles reflected aristocratic concerns about tyranny and were models of violent opposition to sovereigns.
The Book of Emperors: A Translation of the Middle High German Kaiserchronik edited and translated by Henry A. Myers. The Kaiserchronik (c.1152-1165) is a verse chronicle of the exploits of the Roman, Byzantine, Carolingian, and Holy Roman kings and rulers, from the establishment of Rome to the start of the Second Crusade.
The King's Body: Sacred Rituals of Power in Medieval and Early Modern Europe by Sergio Bertelli, translated by R. Burr Litchfield. Looks at kingship in the Middle Ages, when the distinction between the political and the religious did not exist.
Kings and Warriors in Early North-West Europe edited by Jan Erik Rekdaland Charles Doherty. Essays examine how medieval Norse, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon writers highlighted the role of the warrior in relation to kings and society.
Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses by Gabor Klaniczay is about dynastic cults in medieval central Europe.
The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval Europe by George Holmes. An account of life in medieval Europe between the fall of the Roman Empire and the coming of the Renaissance.
Atlas of Medieval Europe edited by Angus MacKay and David Ditchburn. Covers the period from the fall of the Roman Empire through the beginnings of the Renaissance.
Renaissance & Early Modern
Princes and Princely Culture 1450-1650 by Martin Gosman. Thirteen essays on European princes of the medieval and Renaissance eras.
The Renaissance Monarchies, 1469-1558 by Catherine Mulgan. Discusses Ferdinand and Isabella, their grandson Charles V, and Francis I.
Monarchs of the Renaissance by Philip J. Potter. The lives and reigns of 42 European kings and queens.
Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions That Forged Modern Europe by John Julius Norwich. About 16th century rulers of England, France, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire who changed European history.
Unexpected Heirs in Early Modern Europe: Potential Kings and Queens edited by Valerie Schutte. There were many surprising accessions in the early modern period, including Mary I of England and Henry III of France. This book evaluates their lives and the repercussions of their reigns.
Monarchy Transformed: Princes and Their Elites in Early Modern Western Europe edited by Robert von Friedeburg and John Morrill. Argues that the new monarchies that emerged during the 'long 17th century' were not states in a modern sense, but princely dynasties.
Kings, Nobles and Commoners: States and Societies in Early Modern Europe by Jeremy Black. Tackles questions vital for understanding of early modern Europe. What was the nature of the state? Did Protestantism lead to progress and Catholicism to absolutism?
Early Modern Europe: An Oxford History by Euan Cameron. From the Renaissance and the Reformation to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
Perceiving Power in Early Modern Europe edited by Francis So. This collection discusses forms of kingship such as client-kingship, monarchy, queen consort and regnant queenship.
The 18th & 19th Centuries
Life in the Georgian Court by Catherine Curzon. Peep behind the shutters of the opulent courts of 18th century Europe at royal scandals, tragedies, and romance.
Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848 by Adam Zamoyski. After the French Revolution, monarchs and their courtiers lived in constant fear of rebellion.
The 'Sailor Prince' in the Age of Empire: Creating a Monarchical Brand in Nineteenth-Century Europe by Miriam Magdalena Schneider. Traces the careers and travels of Prince Alfred of Britain, Prince Heinrich of Prussia, Prince Valdemar of Denmark, and Prince Georgios of Greece.
Sons and Heirs: Succession and Political Culture in Nineteenth-Century Europe edited by Frank Lorenz Müller and Heidi Mehrkens. Focuses on the role of royal heirs, including their education and accommodation, their ability to overcome succession crises, the consequences of the death of an heir, and their roles during the First World War.
Royal Heirs and the Uses of Soft Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe edited by Frank Muller and Heidi Mehrkens. Studies exploring the role played by royal heirs in Britain, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Sweden, Norway and Prussia.
The Princely Court by Malcolm Vale is about medieval courts and culture in North-West Europe, 1270-1380.
The Age of the Favourite, edited by J.H. Elliott and Laurence Brockliss, is about European royal favorites in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Politics of Female Households: Ladies-in-Waiting Across Early Modern Europe edited by Nadine Akkerman and Birgit Houben. Essays about the ways in which women influenced the politics and culture of their times.
Monarchy and Religion: The Transformation of Royal Culture in Eighteenth-Century Europe edited by Michael Schaich. Essays investigate the role of clergymen, religious observances, and religious images and ceremonies at British, French, Russian, and German royal courts.
Childhood at Court, 1819-1914 by John Van Der Kiste. What was childhood like for European princes and princesses in the Victorian and Edwardian periods? Here their education, recreation, and general upbringing is discussed.
Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting by Carolyn Harris. How European royal parents dealt with raising their children, from keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi.
Dressed to Rule: Royal and Court Costume From Louis XIV to Elizabeth II by Philip Mansel. Explores how rulers have sought to control their image through their appearance. Individual styles of dress throw light on the personalities of particular monarchs, their court system, and their ambitions.
Royal Taste: Food, Power and Status at the European Courts After 1789 edited by Danielle De Vooght. Contributors consider the way royals and aristocrats wined and dined. Topics include the role of sherry at the court of Queen Victoria, the use of the truffle as a promotional gift at the Savoy court, and the influence of Europe on banqueting at the Ottoman palace.
Eating With Emperors: 150 Years of Dining With Emperors, Kings, Queens... and the Occasional Maharajah by Jake Smith. Based on menu cards from the tables of world leaders, this book offers recipes along with anecdotes about Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Prince Rainier III, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria-Hungary, Emperor Wilhelm II, Queen Victoria, and other European royals.
The Prince and the Law, 1200-1600 by Kenneth Pennington is about sovereignty and rights in the western legal tradition.
Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages: Studies by Fritz Kern, translated by S. B. Chrimes. The history of the idea of Western monarchy, law, and constitution from the fifth century to the early 14th century.
Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the State in Europe 1300-1800 by Hillay Zmora. A survey of the relationship between the monarchy and the state in early modern Europe.
Royal and Republican Sovereignty in Early Modern Europe edited by Robert Oresko, G. C. Gibbs, H. M. Scott. Illustrated collection of essays by leading scholars on the theme of sovereignty and political power in 17th- and 18th-century Europe.
The Royal Remains: The People's Two Bodies and the Endgames of Sovereignty by Eric L. Santner. In early modern Europe, the king's body was literally sovereign. This book demonstrates the ways in which democratic societies have continued practices associated with kingship in distorted forms.
The Zenith of European Monarchy and Its Elites: The Politics of Culture, 1650-1750 by Nicholas Henshall. By the mid-17th century, several European monarchies were collapsing. This book shows how monarchs tried to work with, rather than against, their elites.
Monarchy and Exile: The Politics of Legitimacy From Marie de Medicis to Wilhelm II edited by Philip Mansel and Torsten Riotte. Detailed studies of 15 exiled royal figures from the 16th to 20th century, including the Jacobite court and the exiled kings of Hanover.
A Clash of Thrones: The Power-Crazed Medieval Kings, Popes and Emperors of Europe by Andrew Rawson. An account of 450 years of treachery, triumph, and disaster, starting with the Great Schism in 1054 and ending with the discovery of the New World in 1492.
Peaceful Kings: Peace, Power and the Early Medieval Political Imagination by Paul Kershaw. The relationship between kingship and peace was explored in writing across Europe in the early Middle Ages.
Visual Power and Fame in Rene d'Anjou, Geoffrey Chaucer, and the Black Prince by SunHee Kim Gertz. How Naples king René d'Anjou (1409-1480) and England's Edward the Black Prince (1330-1376) communicated with audiences in order to secure fame.
The Power of Kings: Monarchy and Religion in Europe, 1589-1715 by Paul Kleber Monod.
Premodern Rulership and Contemporary Political Power: The King's Body Never Dies edited by Karolina Mroziewicz and Aleksander Sroczynski. In the medieval period, the monarch was seen as the embodiment of his kingdom, the body politic. This book offers 13 case studies from premodern and contemporary Europe on how bodies politic were, and continue to be, constructed and challenged.
The Myth of Absolutism: Change & Continuity in Early Modern European Monarchy by Nicholas Henshall. Examines the various definitions of "absolute monarchy" and the amount of real power monarchs wielded.
Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empires edited by Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery. This collection of essays explores the connections between monarchy and colonialism, with case studies drawn from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
The Congress of Vienna and Its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy After Napoleon by Mark Jarrett. In September 1814, the rulers of Europe descended upon Vienna to reconstruct Europe after two decades of revolution and war, leading to a bold experiment in international cooperation known as the Congress System.
The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics After Napoleon by Brian E. Vick. Considers both the pageantry of the royals and elites who gathered after Napoleon's defeat and the landmark diplomatic agreements they brokered.
The Impossible Bourbons: Europe's Most Ambitious Dynasty by Oliver Thomson. Traces the rise of the family that won the the crowns first of France, then Spain and finally Naples and Sicily, including the Spanish Bourbons right up to the present day King Juan Carlos.
Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europe by Thomas M. Eccardt. An illustrated look at the history, culture and inner workings of Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
Daughter of Venice: Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance by Holly S. Hurlburt. Catherine Cornaro, a Venetian noblewoman, married King James II of Cyprus. After his death, she became regent and then monarch. This study considers the strategies of her reign until her forced abdication in 1489.
The Murder of Charles the Good by Galbert of Bruges, translated by James Bruce Ross. Charles the Good, count of Flanders, was the son of Denmark's King Canute IV. This is an account of his murder in 1127 and its profound effects on medieval Flemish society and the balance of power in Europe.
I, Jacqueline by Hilda Lewis. Novel about Jacqueline of Hainaut, thrice married, thrice imprisoned; the extraordinary 15th-century life of a woman who endured the power politics of England, Burgundy, and France.
King Saint Stephen of Hungary by Gyorgy Gyorffy. King Stephen was the founder of Hungary and the first Arpad king.
Istvan II (1116-1131) by John Tuzson. Reassesses the bad reputation of the orphan Hungarian king Istvan II.
The G.I. Prince by Franz Hohenlohe is "a pleasant assortment of narrative vignettes about some of the special people and unusual circumstances" encountered by its author, a Hungarian prince.
Louis the Great, edited by Steven Bela Vardy, is a history of Louis I, 14th century king of Hungary and Poland.
The Holy Wars of King Wladislas and Sultan Murad: The Ottoman-Christian Conflict From 1438-1444 by John Jefferson. About the conflict between Wladyslaw III of Poland (Wladyslaw I of Hungary) and Sultan Murad II of the Ottoman Empire.
The Raven King: Matthias Corvinus and the Fate of His Lost Library by Marcus Tanner. After the death of 15th century Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, his library of two thousand volumes was dispersed across the world. This book tracks the destiny of the Raven King and his magnificent bequest.
Austria, Hungary, and the Habsburgs: Central Europe c.1683-1867 by R. J. W. Evans. Essays focusing on Austrian or Habsburg lands. A central issue is the evoltuion of the kingdom of Hungary, from its full acquisition by the Habsburgs to the emergence of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
The Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy 1867-1918 by Andras Gero. Analyzes the empire, the daily lives of its citizens, and the heritage it left behind.
Neither Woman Nor Jew: The Confluence of Prejudices in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the Turn of the Century by Andras Gero. The racialist, misogynist, and anti-Semitic ideas that influenced public discourse among the Austrian faction of the Dual Monarchy.
Emperor Francis Joseph, King of the Hungarians by Andras Gero. Examines relations between the Habsburg ruler of Hungary and his subjects, whose public adulation of their king camouflaged enmity that never disappeared.
Making a Great Ruler: Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania by Giedre Michunaite. How does a ruler become "the Great"? This study suggests that Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania (r.1392-1430) was the main engineer of his image as a great ruler.
Historical Dictionary of Lithuania by Saulius Suziedelis. Includes lists of Lithuanian rulers from 1251-1795, four maps, and a detailed chronology.
Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345 by S.C. Rowell. From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. This book examines how Lithuania expanded, defended itself against western European crusaders, and played a conspicuous part in European life.
The Queens Regnant of Navarre: Succession, Politics, and Partnership, 1274-1512 by Elena Woodacre. There were five reigning queens of Navarre during the Middle Ages. This book examines female succession, power-sharing between the queens and their male consorts, and the queens' connections to other female rulers, including Isabel of Castile and Giovanna II of Naples.
Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549): Mother of the Renaissance by Patricia Francis Cholakian and Rouben C. Cholakian. Biography. Sister to the king of France, queen of Navarre, gifted writer, religious reformer, and patron of the arts -- Marguerite was one of the most important figures of the French Renaissance.
The Pleasure of Discernment: Marguerite de Navarre as Theologian by Carol Thysell. Margaret of Navarre, sister of French king Francis I and the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a writer and the patron of Rabelais and other literary figures.
The Heptameron by Marguerite De Navarre. Believed to be the work of Margaret of Navarre, this book is located in the tradition of the Decameron: a collection of bawdy, romantic, and spiritual stories that offer a surprisingly immediate picture of life in sophisticated 16th century France.
The Humor of Marguerite De Navarre in the Heptameron: A Feminist Author Before Her Time by John Parkin. Marguerite's satiric short-story collection, the Heptameron, used stock medieval comic patterns.
The Gypsies by Angus Fraser. Opens with an investigation of gypsy origins in India, then traces gypsy migration from the early Middle Ages to the present, through the Middle East, Europe, and the world.
A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia by David M. Crowe. Draws from previously untapped East European, Russian, and traditional sources to explore the life, history, and culture of the Roma from the Middle Ages until the present.
We Are the Romani People by Ian F. Hancock. The author, who is himself a Romani, speaks directly to the gadze (non-Gypsy) reader about his people and their history since leaving India one thousand years ago.
Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca. Describes the four years the author spent with Gypsies from Albania to Poland, listening to their stories and deciphering their taboos.
A Concise History of Switzerland by Clive Church and Randolph Head. Traces the historical and cultural development of the country from the end of the Dark Ages to the modern era.
Ukraine: A History by Orest Subtelny. Looks at the region's history from ancient times to the modern day.
A History of the Ukraine by Paul Robert Magocsi. Traces some 3,000 years of political, economic, and cultural history of the Ukraine, up until the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991.
The Dynasty of Chernigov, 1146-1246 by Martin Dimnik. Examines the Ukrainian princedom of Chernigov, including succession and inheritance, marriage alliances, and princely relations with the church.
The Emperors: How Europe's Greatest Rulers Were Destroyed by World War I by Gareth Russell. Tells the story of the Austrian, German and Russian imperial families during the First World War, and the political and personal struggles that brought about their ruin.
George, Nicholas and Wilhelm by Miranda Carter. The publisher sent me a copy of this book to review. It examines the family ties and friendships between European royals, including out-of-touch Russian tsar Nicholas II and bombastic German kaiser Wilhelm II, before the First World War. Although Britain's King George V is mentioned in the title, the book focuses more on his grandmother, Queen Victoria, and his father, King Edward VII. The writer has an eye for colorful anecdotes that help bring history to life.
Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War by Robert K. Massie. Vividly describes turn-of-the-century European royal families and their role in the First World War.
Crowns in Conflict by Theo Aronson. The triumph and tragedy of European monarchy, 1910-1918.
Royalty and Diplomacy in Europe, 1890-1914 by Roderick R. McLean. Examines the role of royal families in European diplomacy before the outbreak of the First World War.
Between Two Emperors edited by John Van der Kiste. Between 1894 and 1914, German emperor William II and his cousin Tsar Nicholas II of Russia exchanged a series of telegrams and letters. These are now published for the first time in one volume.
Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War by Max Hastings. A history of the outbreak of World War I: the dramatic stretch from the breakdown of diplomacy to the battles -- the Marne, Ypres, Tannenberg -- that marked the frenzied first year.
A Mad Catastrophe by Geoffrey Wawro. The outbreak of World War I and the collapse of the Habsburg empire.
Imperial Requiem: Four Royal Women and the Fall of the Age of Empires by Justin C. Vovk. About Augusta Victoria, Germany's empress, whose commitment to her husband, Wilhelm II, made her an icon; Queen Mary, whose strength made her the soul of the British monarchy through some of its greatest crises; Alexandra, the tsarina who helped topple the Russian monarchy; and Zita, the resolute empress of Austria who captivated the world's attention.
Monarchs by Stewart Ross. About medieval European kings and queens. For children ages 12 and up.
The Raucous Royals: Test Your Royal Wits - Crack Codes, Solve Mysteries, and Deduce Which Royal Rumors Are True by Carlyn Beccia. Looks at rumors and how the truth can become twisted over time. For children ages 4 to 8.
Rulers of the Middle Ages by Rafael Tilton. About Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Genghis Khan, Frederick Barbarossa, Louis IX, Edward III, and Charles VII. For young adult readers.
Princes & Princesses: Art for Kids from Parkstone Press. Colorful jigsaw puzzles created from well-known paintings of princes and princesses. For children ages 4 to 8.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Fall of Eagles. In the late 19th century, three ruling houses dominated Europe: the Hapsburgs of Austria-Hungary, the Romanovs of Russia, and Hohenzollerns of Germany. Lack of social reform and the First World War caused the vultures of revolution to start circling. This 13-part epic BBC drama features an all-star cast including Patrick Stewart and John Rhys-Davies.