Women's History Conclusion
So to conclude Women’s History Month I will do a recap of the documentaries about historical women that were featured in March as well as previous documentaries I have done over the past few years about women in history.
France's Greatest Royal Painter: The Rise of Madam LeBrun - YouTube (51:20)
Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun was France’s last great portrait painter. She was a child prodigy and was taught by her father. Elisabeth started painting professionally at fourteen years old. She soon became part of the court of Marie Antoinette. She painted over 660 portraits. However, due to her ties to the French court, she is forced to flee into exile. For thirteen years, she traveled around a variety of European courts. She will be met with a great deal of acclaim in the European Courts. *Highly recommended for an art class as well as a history class. Recommended for independent study students.*
Women Who Made History: Queen Luise - YouTube (50:57)
She was the most dangerous woman in all of Europe. Princess Luise was a queen from a humble background. She and her sister married Prussian princes. Princess Luise would eventually become Queen Luise. Queen Luise of Prussia encouraged the Prussians to go to war with Napoleon. This is a German documentary with English subtitles. *Highly recommend for independent study students learning about a person in history. Would show to a high school history class.*
Germans: Frederick and the Empress: YouTube
This is a German-produced English-language documentary about Frederick the Great and Empress Maria Theresa. They were the rulers of two German empires. When Maria Theresa became Empress, Frederick the Great invaded parts of her domain. She fought back against the Prussians. This documentary tells the story of the rulers who fought for supremacy. *Highly recommended for a high school history classroom. Highly recommended for research purposes.*
Women Who Made History - Catherine the Great - YouTube (48:32)
Catherine was born Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst. She was chosen to become the bride of the next heir to the Russian Throne: Peter. It was a journey of several months thousands of miles. It was the chance of a lifetime for Sophie and her family. She had to prove herself worthy to be Peter’s bride. When she arrived in Russia, she made a clean break from her past and became fully Russian. How would Catherine adjust to life in Russia? *Recommended for a college history class and college independent study students.*
Women Who Made History - Joan of Arc - YouTube (50:27)
Joan of Arc liberated France. She challenged soldiers, generals, and the church. It was May of 1429 and Joan was leading her soldiers against the English holding a fortress. If the French took control of the fort, the Orleans would be free. The English had been on French soil for decades and now the French were rising against them to take control of France again. Joan of Arc was leading those French soldiers to victory. *Highly recommended for a history classroom and for independent study students.*
The Only Empress of China - YouTube
Wu Zetian is one of the most controversial rulers of China. She was a concubine who rose to become Empress of China. She was the only woman who ruled China. She led China for 50 years. The Chinese officials under her were scathing in their criticism. However, historians and archeologists are uncovering evidence that challenges that assertion. *Recommend for middle school and high school classrooms. Highly recommend for independent study students or use for clips.*
Diva Mummy - YouTube
While ordinary people fought in battles, the aristocrats celebrated and grew wealthy. There was a Han aristocrat named Lady Dai. Lady Dai would not ordinarily make history. However, when her tomb was opened the discovery sent shockwaves through the archeological community. Her mummy was the best-preserved mummy in the world. She was known as the perfect mummy. Her lifelike mummy leaves the Egyptian efforts in the dust. *Recommend for teacher and student research purposes. Highly recommended for a history and science classroom.*
Queen Victoria: A Monarch Unveiled: Episode 1 (58:51) Episode 2 (58:52)
A.N. Wilson explores the life of Queen Victoria through the letters that survived over two episodes. The first episode shows what her childhood and married life were like. The second episode shows her as a widow. He paints a portrait of a monarch who laughed frequently, engaged in politics, and enjoyed life. Wilson’s portrayal of Queen Victoria shatters the myth of the widow in black. It is a fascinating look at the life of Queen Victoria through her surviving journals. *Highly recommended for a high school history class and independent study students.*
Mata Hari: The Beautiful Spy - YouTube (52:15)
She is charged with high treason. She was a female pay. Her name was Mata Hari. She was an exotic dancer who moved around high society. Then World War I happened and she was charged with treason because of her contacts with the upper echelons of society. What is the truth about Mata Hari? Who was she really? Will she finally reveal her secrets after one hundred years? *Recommended for research purposes and not for a classroom setting.*
Florence Foster Jenkins - YouTube (1:27:40)
Florence Foster Jenkins was known as the world’s worse opera singer and this is her story. This story is narrated from the perspective of a journalist who interviewed her. Florence Foster Jenkins was a flamboyant woman who loved to sing. She planned on performing at Carnegie Hall so the journalist wanted to interview her. Historians and music lovers talk about Florence Foster Jenkins’ life and singing career. *Recommended for research.*
*Egypt's Lost Queens: YouTube (58:52)
Professor Joanne Fletcher explores four of Egypt's forgotten queens. Their stories were hidden over the years and now Fletcher brings them into the light, including one Queen that you've never heard of: Arsinoe. She tells the story from the perspective of a mother, a consort, a diplomat, and a politician. Fletcher travels to the places where these women lived and shows what they did for Egypt. *Highly recommended for both a middle school and high school classroom.*
Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer: YouTube (58:51)
Neil Oliver takes a different perspective on Cleopatra: the ruthless political leader. He takes the perspective that she was a killer and her victim was her family. Cleopatra wanted to be a friend of Rome while her family did not want to be a friend. Her decision to be a friend of Rome had serious consequences for her siblings. This is a combination of documentary and period drama. *Recommended for a teacher's or student's research purposes.*
Hatshepsut: Secrets of Egypt's Lost Pharaoh: YouTube (1:41:26)
While the archeologists look for Hatshepsut's mummy, other historians and archeologists explore the life of the Queen and why the Pharaoh was erased from history. She ruled Egypt during the Golden Age. She ruled as a king. Then she was erased from history. Why was Hatshepsut erased from history? Who erased her? Where did her mummy go? *Recommended to use clips in a middle school classroom and to show in a high school. Recommend for students to use for research purposes.*
Nefertari: The Life of an Egyptian Queen - YouTube (1:00:00)
Nefertari: The Life of an Egyptian Queen, she was known as one of the most beautiful queens in the world. Her name even means “Beauty of the Beauties.” She was the favorite wife of Ramses II. She came from a noble family. She was educated and a clever woman. Eventually, Ramses II would name her a goddess and had a temple built in her honor. So, who was this extraordinary woman? This is an independently produced documentary by an Egyptian enthusiast. *Not recommended for the classroom, use ONLY for research.*
Women Who Made History - Cleopatra YouTube (49:02)
Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt. However, her brother disputed her claim to the throne. A fight broke out between the siblings. Rome invaded Egypt to settle the dispute between Cleopatra and her brother. Julius Caesar wanted influence in Egypt, so he would invade to get it. Cleopatra recognized he would be an ally to her in regaining her throne. Who would win in the fight for Egypt? Would Cleopatra’s brother rule or would Cleopatra? *Recommended to use for clips and not show the full documentary in class.*
*England's Forgotten Queen: Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey: Episode 1 (58:36) Episode 2 (58:49) Episode 3 (58:44)
Helen Castor explores the life and death of Lady Jane Grey, the nine-days queen of England. She was the first woman to be proclaimed Queen of England and one of the more controversial characters in Tudor History. She goes into each day of her reign and the activities that happened on that day. It is a fascinating look into the life and death of Jane Grey. It breathes new life into that story. *Recommend for research purposes for high school history.*
The Origins of Bloody Mary - YouTube (48:21)
David Starkey explores the story of Queen Mary I from her childhood, the struggles with her father, and how she survived to become Queen. She was the first woman who fought and won the throne in England. He goes into details on how she ruled England and concludes with her death. As the first woman crowned Queen, she faced questions over who she should marry and what rights she had to rule. *Recommend for research purposes for high school history.*
Elizabeth I - Episode 1 (49:28) Episode 2 (49:35) Episode 3 (Video Not Available) Episode 4 (49:23)
David Starkey narrates the story of Elizabeth, from her growing up years, her time under the reign of Mary I, the start of her reign as well as her avoiding the issue of marriage. After her father’s death, she grew up in the household of Catherine Parr. He covers the rebellions, the religious settlement, as well as the Spanish Armada. This is an excellent documentary on Elizabeth I. *Highly recommended for a high school history class and an independent study student.*
Elizabeth I - Episode 1 (44:39) Episode 2 (44:36) Episode 3 (44:20)
Suzannah Lipscomb and Dan Jones narrate this docu-drama on Elizabeth I from her growing up in Catherine Parr's household to her arrest to her become Queen. Then they cover the events of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Elizabeth was surrounded by enemies from the beginning of her birth. Her enemies tried to take her life and her throne. Elizabeth had to learn to play politics quickly. It is a new look at Queen Elizabeth. *Highly recommended for a high school history class and an independent study student.*
Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors: YouTube (58:45)
Lucy explores the houses that inspired Jane Austen and her writing. She starts with Austen’s childhood home and concludes with the home she died in. Worsley goes to the places that had an impact on Austen’s writing and life. She even spends the night in a house that Austen lived in. It is a fascinating look at Jane Austen, her life, and the impact of her writing. *Highly recommended for both a history classroom and an English classroom.*
Florence Foster Jenkins
Florence Foster Jenkins was flamboyant. Her recordings still outsell contemporary singers. She was a native New Yorker. She founded a musical club. She wanted to be a famous singer. She was going to give a recital at Carnegie Hall in 1942. However, she was the world’s worse opera singer. The run time for this documentary is 1:27:40. Florence Foster Jenkins is played by opera superstar Joyce DiDonato. Other actors played the part of the journalist who interviewed her, her pianist, her common-law-husband, and other people in her life. Additionally, this documentary also includes original recordings of Florence Foster Jenkins.
The story of Florence Foster Jenkins kicks off with her being interviewed by a journalist. She talks about establishing the Verdi Musical club because she was such a fan of Verdi’s music. Historians are puzzled by Florence Foster Jenkins. Some see her as a farce. She was a woman who thought she was an excellent opera singer. However, the recordings show that she was not an excellent singer. She bragged about her singing ability; however, the reality was very different. She was a woman who had a strong belief in herself. She believed herself to be the world’s best soprano.
Cosme McMoon, who was her pianist talks about Florence’s technique during their sessions together. He reflects on her performances and talks about the audience’s reaction to her singing. The audience did not want to hurt her feelings so instead of laughing, they burst into applause. He even talks about the flamboyant costumes and ridiculous dances she did while practicing.
St. Clair Bayfield, her common-law talks about how she wanted to make people happy. He thought the ridicule was ridiculous because she wanted to make people happy. St. Clair was a handsome man but was dominated by Florence Foster Jenkins. He worked his fingers to the bone helping her out. He was a man who loaned his professionalism to her career. St. Clair was also an archivist for Florence Foster Jenkins. He kept many scrapbooks of her.
Kathleen Bayfield, St. Clair Bayfield’s later wife speaks about how she found Florence Foster Jenkins ridiculous. She felt that Florence wasted the best years of St. Clair’s life.
Who was the real Florence Foster Jenkins? She was born to wealthy parents in Pennsylvania. From her childhood, she wanted to sing and her parents objected to the sound of her voice. She did not sing in the presence of her parents. One historian points to the neighborhood she grew up in as to why she had the confidence to do what she did. She went to the best church and went the best all-female school. She was a spoiled child indeed. She leaves town, leaving everything behind. Her father tried to control her using the inheritance. She would marry the mysterious Frank Jenkins. Who was John Thornton Jenkins, nobody knows?
She never mentioned her first husband after they separated. She kept his name and added it to her maiden name. They never had children together. There were rumors that he gave her syphilis. Historians were unsure if that diagnosis was true. Some argue that Kathleen hated Florence and made up the story. Others contend that the disease was too specific to not be a lie. After this marriage, she fled to New York to recreate herself as this opera diva. When her father died, she was well provided for. Her mother was generous with the funds. She also took singing lessons again with the understanding that she would not sing in public.
With the money, she supported a variety of clubs and founded the Verdi Club. She was looking to enter the higher classes of society. She would sing during Verdi Club meetings and would give her concerts at a variety of hotels over the years. Each affair grew bigger and bigger every year. She had grand plans and she was going to see them through. So what would happen at the recital at Carnegie Hall? How would the audience react? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out.
I have respect for Joyce going back and forth between singing badly and singing fantastically. It probably took a lot of work and practice in order to sing badly. This would be a documentary for the fun and frivolous day in history class.
“Eva” explores Eva Mozes Kor a survivor of the Mengle Twin Experiment. Eva was sent to Birkenau as a child and in 1984 she and her twin sister visited the camp. She went with a tape recorder to recall her experience. When entering the camp, her mother and father were taken from her and her twin. She would never see her mother again. Eva promised her mother that she would tell the story of what happened to them. The run time for Eva is 56:09.
On September 1, 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. Hitler rose to power and eventually blame the people who brought Germany down and eventually would blame the Jews. He vowed to get rid of every Jew in Germany. Eva was born in Portz, Romania and they were the only Jewish family in town. She was in a family of six, with a mother and father, an older sister, her twin, and a brother. The nice thing about being a twin was that she was never lonely. Eva grew up on a farm that had a large orchard and she was always in the trees.
Hungary invaded Romania and things started to change. The first movie she saw was a movie that showed how to catch and kill a Jew. School days became difficult. The children and the teachers called her and her siblings Dirty Jews. The children would spit and hit them and the teacher did nothing to protect them. The teacher threw coals at a corner and made Eva and her twin sister sit in them.
The first concretion camp opened was Dachau and those camps would multiple. Six camps would become death camps. However, the six death camps were still too small for Birkenau was construction. The Mozes family was taken from their village in Portz. Nobody said anything nor stopped them from being taken. They were hauled into a wagon and sent to Auschwitz. The Mozes family were the first to step onto the freshly hardened concrete.
Nazi officers noticed Eva and her twin Miriam and cried out “Twins, Twins, Twins!” Their mother confirmed that they were twins and the girls were taken away. Eva remembers her mother’s arms outstretched. It was the last time she saw her mother. Eva and Miriam were sent to separate barracks for experimentation. These experiments were performed on Jews to help perfect the perfect Nazi races.
Eva and Miriam were measured every day and then compared to each other and then compared to charts. Every other day they were taken to the blood lab. Here they would take blood from the twins and inject them with something. Eva never knew what she was given. After one injection, Eva got a fever. Mengele thought she would not survive, but she defied the odds. Throughout the war, she was experimented on. The end came, in January 1945 the Russians had come.
Eva remembers liberation day. The Russian soldiers were wrapped in white. The most important thing to Eva was that they did not look like Nazis. The Russian were shocked by what they found. Eva wanted to see her home again. It took her nine months to return home. She hoped that there would be someone in the home, but there was nobody. Eva and her sister Miriam were taken in by their aunt where they lived under Communist rule.
In 1950, Eva and Miriam went to Israel to start a new life again. Ten years later, Eva would take another voyage with her husband and they would arrive in America. However, Auschwitz loomed large over her life. It was here, that she had a new mission: she wanted to bring Joseph Mengele to justice. Living in the United States proved to be a challenge for Eva. Auschwitz loomed large over her world and nobody could understand her. It was only until the Docudrama Holocaust was broadcast in the United States. Eva talked about her experiences at school as a result of the docudrama.
As a result, Eva went on a crusade. She wanted to find out what happened to her. She wanted to find out what happened to her sister. She wanted to find out what happened to the other Mengele twins.
To continue to learn more about Eva watch the rest of this documentary. I would highly recommend showing this documentary to a history class.
Good afternoon, this is the story of Nancy Wake. This is told through a docudrama and her biographers. She was a journalist, spy, and revolutionary. She was a woman who was born lucky. The run time for this documentary is 1:07:47.
Nancy Wake was the Allied Forces’ most daring spy. She was the Gestapo’s most wanted woman in World War II and was codenamed “The White Mouse.” She came from New Zealand and was a drop-dead gorgeous woman. She traveled to France and became a journalist. Nancy struck up many friendships with journalists who protected her as she reported. She enjoyed life in Paris and the Rivera. Nancy was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to get it.
Nancy Wake’s story kicks off in Paris, where she meets the man who would become the love of her life, Henri. She had left New Zealand, taught herself French, and became a journalist. She would travel to Austria and Berlin to get the story of Adolph Hitler. She wanted to get the story firsthand and she felt sick to her stomach with what she witnessed. What she saw with Nazism, reviled her. Then she goes to Austria and sees how the Jews are being treated.
Eventually, she returned to France and married Henri. The next section of this docudrama talks about that marriage to Henri. Henri’s father did not approve of the marriage. The pair made the best of her father’s disapproval. Her marriage to Henri catapulted her into a higher social status. She could have milk baths and had a household staff of five people. Life was good for Nancy in France, at least until Germany invaded France.
Nancy threw herself into the war effort and started driving ambulances. She had the means to support the war, but she wanted more action. Driving ambulances provided that action for her. Eventually, France surrendered to the Germans. Only one man refused to consent to surrender and he fled to England. General Charles de Gaulle gave a rousing speech against the Nazi occupiers. Nancy soon became involved with the French Resistance. Slowly but surely, she became more involved in the French Resistance. Henri did not like her becoming involved with the French Resistance. He worried about her safety and he did not want to lose her.
She was not fearful of being caught. She was a beautiful woman who could be a distraction for the German soldiers. She never thought about the consequences of her actions. She helped soldiers escape from France. She felt that every soldier smuggled out was a thorn in the flesh to Hitler. The French Resistance had a high degree of organization.
There were times that she was the Nazis came close to catching her. However every time she was corner she escaped. Her instincts were going off. Henri encouraged her to escape, but she did not want to escape without him. He insisted and she went to left France. Escaping France was a challenge and it took her three months to leave France. She eventually made her way to England. Once in England, she started training for Special Operations. The training proved to be a challenge and Nancy came through training well. She would go back to France after she was trained.
Once back in France she would sabotage German forces and their French Allies. She parachuted into France as part of Special Operations and met up with the French Resistance. The first order of business was to get in touch with the radio operator. The radio operator was late. The second order of business was getting in touch with the resistance leader: Gaspar. Gaspar would come to her. Eventually, she would meet up with Gaspar. What would happen during this first meeting? How would these efforts at sabotage help with the D-Day Invasion? What would happen to Henri after she left? How would the Nazis take their revenge against the Resistance fighters? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
This is a cool documentary about the French Resistance and Nancy Wake. Even though it is a long docudrama this would be one drama I would consider showing to a history class during the World War II section.
Mata Hari - The Beautiful Spy
She is charged with high treason. She was a female pay. Her name was Mata Hari. She was an exotic dancer who moved around high society. Then World War I happened and she was charged with treason because of her contacts with the upper echelons of society. What is the truth about Mata Hari? Who was she really? Will she finally reveal her secrets after one hundred years? The run time for this documentary is 52:14.
Paris, 1917, and World War I have been ravaging Europe for three years. A woman is brought before a magistrate in Paris. She is surprised to have been arrested and thought she could wriggle away from her situation. France and Germany were fighting hard but neither side could win. Public opinion was tired of the fighting. With thousands of deaths per day and no end in sight, the public thought there were spies in their midst.
In enters Mata Hari, who enjoyed life in Paris, as well as the company of high-ranking officials. She obscures her past, so no one really knew where she came from. She is an exotic dancer. Was she a woman capable of treason? Did she really commit treason?
Phillippe Collins, the great-grandson of the prosecutor, talks about meeting her and his grandfather. Mata Hari was born in the Netherlands as Margaretha Zelle and was the daughter of a shop owner. Her father grew rich, but he was also a born liar. He exaggerated his origins. There was one thing he did: he completely spoiled his daughter. He made sure that she was dressed in silks. Suddenly her father lost his money and her mother passed away. She is left with an uncle and an aunt. She was a beauty and eventually, she married. He was an officer from the Dutch East Indies and twenty years older.
They traveled to the Dutch East Indies and had two children. She tried to become the traditional wife and mother. In the Dutch East Indies, she discovered a different sort of life. She was a young wife and had to deal with a harsh husband. He was a jealous husband and often abusive to her. He loved the women as well and ended up infecting Mata Hari with syphilis. There is some suggestion that this syphilis killed her young son. Mata Hari retreats to the Netherlands with her daughter to separate from her husband. Her husband wanted his daughter back and challenged the custody. Eventually, Mata Hari lost custody of her daughter. She would never see her daughter again.
Mata Hari then fled to Paris to reinvent herself. She would take elements from her own life and weave them into a new persona. She wanted to live out some other life. Eventually, she became an exotic dancer. She played on the interest in the Orient. She lived the life of a wealthy woman due to her patrons from high society. She allowed herself to be a kept woman. She adored men in uniform and openly met her lovers in society.
Eventually, she grew older and it became harder and harder to maintain her extravagant lifestyle. Things started going wrong for her. In 1914, she traveled to Berlin where she would put on a show. She had written her own ballet and so it was going to be her big comeback. However, World War I broke out. So, her show was canceled. Mata Hari was trapped in Germany; her money was frozen by the German government. She eventually makes her way back to Holland with the help of a benefactor in Berlin where she worked as a fashion model.
What she did not know was that she was under surveillance by the British Government. She was in Germany when the war broke out, so was she a spy for the German government? There were rumors that various governments were using female spies. Mata Hari with her contacts would have been an ideal candidate to be a spy. Was she really a spy? Was she a spy for the Germans or was she spy for the French? What would happen to her when she was arrested? Tune into the rest of this episode to find the rest of Mata Hari’s story.
This is an interesting look at Mata Hari, there was a movie about her but I never really looked into her life. Then this documentary popped up and I decided to learn more. This documentary would be good for research purposes and not for a classroom setting.
Good morning, we will conclude our tour of Queen Victoria: A Monarch Unveiled with a look at the last years of her life. History tells us that Queen Victoria withdrew from public life after the death of Prince Albert, however, her letters reveal her as an active political player behind the scenes. At the end of her life, she was known as the “Widow of Windsor.” A.N. Wilson reveals more about Queen Victoria in this final episode. The run time for this documentary is 58:38.
Although a widow and in deep mourning, Queen Victoria was free. She had been under the thumb of her mother and her husband. After their deaths, she had the freedom to explore her interests. After Albert’s death, she fled from London, thus beginning her life alone. Prince Albert had a great deal of control over Victoria and often she resented him for it. He told her how to act and how to get dressed. After Prince Albert’s death, he became a demigod in her eyes, despite her resentment.
Queen Victoria took her first steps to freedom on a trip to Coburg. She stayed in the palace where Prince Albert was raised. A.N. Wilson visits Coburg and meets with the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family. The prince talks about Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. He talks about how Queen Victoria was still attached to her German roots. In one of the few public appearances after Prince Albert’s death, she dedicated a monument to him in Germany. She made frequent trips to Coburg. It was the only place where she could be a wife and not the Queen.
During these trips, she was politically active. The German states were a loose confederation. The Prussian King wanted to bully those individual states into joining the larger Prussian Kingdom and becoming militarized. Queen Victoria met with Emperor Franz Joseph, to negotiate for a peaceful Europe. One historian points out that despite the widowhood front, Queen Victoria was active in the diplomatic back channels. The British politicians complained about the weepy widow, not realizing how active she was behind the scene.
She was active because there was infighting with her family. Prince Bertie had married a Danish princess, while his sisters married German princes. This would have caused trouble at home, so Queen Victoria looked for a peaceful solution. However, Queen Victoria was sad that Bertie had married a Dane and not a good German.
Back at home, Queen Victoria looked for another father figure in her life. This led to an attachment to John Brown. John Brown was Prince Albert’s Highland Servant. She valued John Brown’s friendship and A.N. Wilson concludes that if she did not have that friendship she would have gone “stark raving mad.” John Brown understood Queen Victoria well and saw her as a “wee bairn.” He would devote his life to her and did not have an agenda for Queen Victoria. He also had complete disregard for court etiquette. Queen Victoria loved his disregard and his frankness. They laughed together and he carried her around. John Brown was a walking encyclopedia for Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria enjoyed Highlands. She even wrote a book about her life in the Highlands. It became an instant best seller. The book chronicled her outdoor life and her love of frivolity. She wrote about the Highland Games. It was shocking that the Queen would write such a book. Her children were not pleased with the book nor with her relationship with John Brown. Queen Victoria wrote to Vicky complaining that she had not heard back from Vicky about her little book. However, Queen Victoria’s relationship with John Brown was causing scandal. The American press mocked the relationship. Queen Victoria was going to write a second book about her life with John Brown. One poor page had to tell the Queen that publishing the book was not a good idea.
What was the nature of her relationship with John Brown? Were they married? Did they have an affair? What did Queen Victoria write about the other people in her life? Why did she loathe her Prime Minister Gladstone? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more!
This would be another good documentary to put in your documentary arsenal for the school year and it would be a good source for a student writing a paper on Queen Victoria.
Good morning, I was reviewing my documentary list and my previous blogs and discovered that I never did a documentary on Queen Victoria. That changes today as I will do both episodes of Queen Victoria: A Monarch Unveiled with A.N. Wilson. A.N. Wilson examines what remains of her diaries. He had been exploring Queen Victoria’s life over the years and admits that she felt like a friend. The first episode of this documentary discusses her childhood. The run time is 58:34.
Queen Victoria was a prolific diarist and she had documented everything from childhood until adulthood. Writing in her diary was always something she made time for and these diaries are kept in the royal archives in Windsor Castle. It is clear from the record that the pen was Queen Victoria’s constant companion. However, at the time of her death, her daughter Princess Beatrice took a wicked pen to everything and edited the diary. Additionally, quite a few of Queen Victoria’s writings were also destroyed. What remains of those writings show a picture of a woman who ruled the world.
A.N. Wilson meets up with the Royal Archivists and examines Queen Victoria’s diaries. If her works were bound together, they would fill up to seven hundred volumes. She wrote over seven million words in her life. Her words are found in archives around the world. She was a woman who was never afraid to speak her mind. A.N. Wilson felt like Queen Victoria would not have wanted her diaries edited, however, the Royal Archivist disagrees. He points out that Queen Victoria wrote in the heat of the moment. So if these diaries were to be published, many things would be misunderstood and offend people. The diaries were meant for Queen Victoria herself. Queen Victoria asked Princess Beatrice to edit the diaries for public posterity. What remains of the diaries stokes our imaginations.
Queen Victoria’s diaries start with her childhood. The diaries show that Queen Victoria had an unhappy childhood. Her relationship with her mother was the foundation of Queen Victoria’s future relationships. One would believe that the death of Prince Albert had a huge impact on Queen Victoria. A.N. Wilson believes that it was the relationship between the Duchess of Kent and Queen Victoria that had a bigger impact.
When Victoria became queen, she shunned her mother. However as Queen Victoria grew older and when her mother died, she had second thoughts. Going through the Duchess of Kent’s things, Queen Victoria discovered letters that her mother had written to her. It slowly dawned on Queen Victoria that her mother deeply loved her. So she had the letters bound together in a book. Queen Victoria had convinced herself that she had an unhappy childhood, but these letters showed that her childhood was happy. So what would have made Victoria come to this conclusion?
Queen Victoria grew up in Kensington Palace. Her mother, the Duchess of Kent had been widowed and fell into the machinations of Sir John Conroy. Perhaps it was Sir John Conroy and his bullying tactics that shaped Queen Victoria’s view of her mother. Sir John Conroy and the Duchess of Kent developed a system to control Victoria. The Duchess of Kent was vulnerable, she was isolated from the English Court and had had no choice but to rely on Sir John Conroy. By controlling the Duchess, he hoped that he could control Victoria. He hoped that Victoria would become Queen young and therefore become the power behind the throne.
Queen Victoria was isolated from other children and her uncles. Her companions were dolls and her dog Dash. She was allowed to go to the theater, opera, and plays. Queen Victoria went to the opera three times a week. Eventually, Sir John Conroy would organize tours of the country. For the first time in her life, Queen Victoria was exposed to the world beyond Kensington Palace. She wrote about the tours in her journal. These were read by her mother. During these tours, she had to memorize the important people she met and would recite who she met back to her mother. Later in life, Queen Victoria would hate appearing in public. During one tour she came to hate Sir John Conroy and loathe her mother.
What else do these diaries reveal about Queen Victoria? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more!
This documentary would fall into the fun and frivolous category in terms of showing a documentary in a history class. If a student is doing a biography on Queen Victoria then this would be a good resource to start with. Additionally, if you have an independent study student, then you could recommend this documentary as well.
Good morning we are continuing our way through the women who made history and today we are going to explore Empress Josephine. The run time for this documentary is 52:17.
Empress Josephine was Napoleon Bonaparte’s, great love. During the Time of the French Revolution, everyone knows Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de Le Pagerie. History would know her as Josephine. The Reign of Terror has just ended and she had just barely escaped the guillotine. She would meet a Corsican general who was just beginning his career. This general was six years younger than her but he fell madly in love with her. The pair would eventually marry and would write world history.
Josephine came from a noble background, even though she had connections with a variety of people including the revolutionaries. She loved clothes and jewelry and would love to spend money. She had been married before and had two children. She would marry Napoleon after a few months. Did she need a protector or was she a schemer? Napoleon loved the military and Josephine loved luxury. From the outsider, they seemed to be an unlikely pair to change the course of history.
The story of Josephine begins on the island of Martinique. She grew up on a sugar plantation, but never really talked about her childhood or life on the island. Her family belonged to the low nobility. At the age of 16, she sails to France to marry Alexandre de Beauharnais. His family was part of the ancient aristocracy. Josephine hoped that she would find herself in the lap of luxury. Alexandre was not a good husband to Josephine and he constantly neglects her. He also has a variety of mistresses. He eventually becomes convinced that Josephine cheated on him and throws her out of the house. Josephine fights back and returns home. She decides that she needs to rely on herself. Society turns its back on Josephine and so she is never received at court in Versailles.
Then the French Revolution happened. Josephine and her family are swept up in the Revolution. Her husband is guillotined during the Reign of Terror. Josephine, even though she had connections among both revolutionaries and royalists, was looked at with suspicion. She was eventually arrested and imprisoned. When the Reign of Terror ended, she was freed.
Josephine would become known as an “it girl.” She hosted parties for the elite. She made many friends and she benefits from the opportunities after the Reign of Terror. Through her friendships, she was able to recover her husband’s fortunes and take her place in French High Society. Even though she was in her thirties, she was still a beautiful woman. She enjoyed a life of luxury and power in Paris. The press kept an eye on her.
It was at that time, that Napoleon arrived in Paris. He was a capable military man the ruling class wanted to use him in their fighting. At twenty-six years old, he put-downs an uprising and he is named Colonel in Chief of the State Army. He meets Josephine. He is a small man and Josephine is the toast of high society. They were an unlikely pairing. Napoleon was in love; however, Josephine’s feelings are unclear. Although there is evidence that she was the driving force behind the marriage. Five months after they meet, they marry much to their friends’ surprise. Even historians today cannot understand why they rushed into marriage. After they marry, Napoleon rushes off to war in Italy. Josephine would remain behind in Italy.
What was it about Josephine that allowed her to make her mark on history? How would she feel about Napoleon’s rise to the Imperial Throne? Who is the real Josephine? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more.
The introduction to Josephine’s story was very long and bounced between the timeline of Josephine’s story. I felt confused at times watching the introduction. It was also a long introduction to the documentary. I think I would have made the introduction shorter and then went into her childhood, first marriage, and how she navigated the French Revolution. This would be a good documentary for research purposes on Josephine or Napoleon and if you have a student working on a paper about them then you can point them to this documentary.
Good morning, today we are going to explore the life of Madame Le Brun, France’s greatest royal painter. She was the friend of the rich and powerful. The run time for this documentary is 51:20.
Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun was France’s last great portrait painter. She was a child prodigy and was taught by her father. Elisabeth started painting professionally at fourteen years old. She soon became part of the court of Marie Antoinette. She painted over 660 portraits. However, due to her ties to the French court, she is forced to flee into exile. For thirteen years, she traveled around a variety of European courts. She will be met with a great deal of acclaim in the European Courts.
Her story begins with her birth. Elisabeth was born in Paris a few months before Marie Antoinette. She was sent out to the county to a trusted wet nurse. She grew up in Normandy and her father came to claim her when she was six years old. She remembers that it was hard to say goodbye to her foster family. Eventually, she grew used to the comings and goings of her family.
Her father was an artist who painted portraits. He had a large clientele. Elizabeth had an interest in portrait painting. Her father allowed her to develop her talent. Her father adored her and would allow her into his studio. She would draw in his studio under his watchful eye. Elisabeth is then sent to a boarding school. She was educated in the convent. At 11 she leaves the convent and starts training in painting. Through her father, she gained a lot of contacts in the art world. Her father suddenly fell ill and passed away.
At the age of 12, Elisabeth starts working and her talent becomes noticed. Portraits of her mother and her brother were the talk of Paris. Eventually, her mother remarried to a man Elisabeth and her brother hated. Her stepfather would take Elisabeth’s income, feeling that the money belonged to him so he uses the money for himself. Elisabeth continued to build up her client list and her fees increased. Men enjoyed looking at her, so she developed a way to keep the men’s eyes off herself. She would have their gaze up and then tell them she was working on the eyes.
Eventually, she would meet two women who would have an impact on her life. She met the Duchess of Chartres who was a patron of the arts and asked Elisabeth to paint her portrait. Elisabeth then met Queen Marie Antoinette.
Day by day, her client list grew, and her activities caught the attention of art officials. They forced her to become a member of an art guild. The Art Guild enthusiastically accepted her. She would eventually meet up with Jean Baptiste LeBrun, who would become her husband. Jean-Baptiste was a curator of various collections and was an art dealer. He was struck by the young woman and eventually Elisabeth would consent to the marriage. They were bound by their love of painting, ambition, and mutual attraction. However, they lived separate lives. He takes her on trips to Flanders and shows her the art of the Dutch Masters.
Elisabeth established a young ladies’ school to teach the ladies art. She could pass along her love of art to these students. The ladies copied the works of Elisabeth for exercise. After opening the school, she gave birth to a daughter. She enjoyed being a mother and loved that she was a recognized artist. Elizabeth was a beautiful and charming young woman and the models enjoyed her conversation. She wanted to reach the highest peaks of power and would eventually receive official entrance into the Palace of Versailles. Queen Marie Antoinette was looking for a portrait painter, and Elisabeth would fit the bill. How would this encounter change Elisabeth’s life? What sort of relationship would she have with Queen Marie Antoinette? What would be the impact of the French Revolution on Elisabeth’s life? Tune into the rest of this documentary to find out more.
This would be an excellent documentary to show to an art class as well as a history class. This was a well-done documentary on Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun.
Good morning, we are continuing our exploration of women in history and we are going to throw it back to a David Starkey documentary on Queen Mary I. She was otherwise known as “Bloody Mary.” This was the first documentary posted when Chronicle became a YouTube Channel. The run time for this documentary is 48:05.
Queen Mary’s story begins as she arrives in London to be crowned Queen. She had lived a turbulent life until this point. Londoners were in tears of joy when they saw her crowned. However, the joy was short-lived. Queen Mary was a queen driven by conviction and would send hundreds of her subjects to the scaffold. She would see that England would be restored to the Catholic Faith.
Starkey then goes into the story of Mary’s birth and christening. She was the only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, so she was an important child. Her density was to be a royal bride and to reign alongside her husband. At the age of two, she was promised to the Dauphin, the heir to the French throne. However, this was eventually set aside. She was promised a variety of suitors to make treaties with other countries. She was a princess and a potential heir to the throne. Marriage to her would have been a good prospect. She was a child who loved music, dancing, and games. Mary spoke Spanish and English. Henry was devoted to Mary. Catherine was equally devoted and gave her an education befitting her destiny.
Mary was treated as the second most important person in England, after her father. Catherine was fiercely ambitious for Mary. Catherine was educating Mary in Latin and was pleased when Mary changed to a professional tutor. Catherine wanted Mary to have good Latin and so prepared Mary to rule England in her own right. Mary was sent to Ludlow Castle to learn the business of ruling. By doing this, Henry regarded her as the future ruler of England. For three years, Princess Mary learned the business of governing while living in Ludlow Castle.
However, life as she knew it would change. Henry VIII had decided to divorce Catherine and marry another woman. For the next five years, Mary’s world was shattered. Eventually, Henry VIII was able to divorce Catherine to marry Anne Boleyn. When Mary was seventeen years, Henry married his mistress. Eventually, a sister, baby Elizabeth was born. Mary was sent to Hatfield House to be a servant to her sister. She was stripped of her titles as Royal Princess, declared a bastard, and abused by members of Anne’s household. Henry VIII disowned Mary and refused to let Mary see her mother.
Worse was to come: Henry VIII was undermining the faith Mary had grown up with. This treatment would have an effect on her and she was going to revenge on her treatment. Eventually, cracks started to show and Mary begged her cousin Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor for asylum. However, Anne was beheaded, so Mary looked to reconcile with her father. Henry would only reconcile with Mary on his terms. Mary would eventually be forced to submit to Henry’s wishes and acknowledged him as head of the church.
Peace would come to the household, eventually after the birth of Edward. She was even reinstated in the line of succession and she would be Queen after Edward. She was fond of Edward. However, when Henry died, Edward became King, and relations between the pair grew strained. Mary had suddenly become a devoted Catholic attending mass frequently. Edward was going after the Catholic faith and was trying to ban the Catholic Mass.
Mary begged Emperor Charles for asylum in Spain. In one of the most bizarre episodes in Mary’s life, Emperor Charles would provide her with sanctuary. Plans were made, even though advisors told her that she would forfeit the chance at the English throne if she fled. The night of the arranged escape, Mary was found in an agitated state. Would she flee England that night? Would Mary change her mind? Would she flee England? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out more.
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