Sunday, May 13, 2012

Current European Queens

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom

Queen Margrethe of Denmark

Queen Sonja of Norway

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Queen Paola of Belgium

Queen Silvia of Sweden

Queen Anne-Marie of Greece

Queen Sophia of Spain

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Landing of Princess Alexandra of Denmark at Gravesend

A poem to celebrate the arrival of Princess Alexandra of Denmark in Britain, as the future bride of Edward, Prince of Wales. It was written by Lord Alfred Tennyson in 1863.

A Welcome to Alexandra

Sea-kings' daughter from over the sea,
Saxon and Norman and Dane are we,
But all of us Danes in our welcome of thee,
Welcome her, thunders of fort and of fleet!
Welcome her, thundering cheer of the street!
Welcome her, all things youthful and sweet,
Scatter the blossom under her feet!
Break, happy land, into earlier flowers!
Make music, O bird, in the new-budded bowers!
Blazon your mottos of blessing and prayer!
Welcome her, welcome her, all that is ours!
Warble, O bugle, and trumpet, blare!
Flags, flutter out upon turrets and towers!
Flames, on the windy headland flare!
Utter your jubilee, steeple and spire!
Clash, ye bells, in the merry March air!
Flash, ye cities, in rivers of fire!
Rush to the roof, sudden rocket, and higher
Melt into stars for the land's desire!
Roll and rejoice, jubilant voice,
Roll as a ground-swell dash'd on the strand,
Roar as the sea when he welcomes the land,
And welcome her, welcome the land's desire,
The sea-kings' daughter as happy as fair,
Blissful bride of a blissful heir,
Bride of the heir of the kings of the sea--
O joy to the people and joy to the throne,
Come to us, love us, and make us your own:
For Saxon or Dane or Norman we,
Teuton or Celt, or whatever we be,
We are each all Dane in our welcome of thee,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gertrude of Meran, Queen of Hungary

Queen Gertrude and King Andrew II
of Hungary.
Gertrude of Andechs-Meran was the mother of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. She was born in Andechs sometime in 1185, the second daughter of Berthold IV, Count of Andechs and Agnes of Wettin. Like her sisters, Gertrude was also a famous beauty. Her father wanted all her daughters to make important political marriages for the benefit of their small country. Thus, Gertrude's younger sister Agnes married the King of France, and Gertrude herself was married off to Andrew II, King of Hungary.

It was a politically significant marriage, and Gertrude relished her role as Queen. She exerted much political influence over her husband, and he trusted her explicitly, as evidence of him making her regent during his absence. She proved to be an effective regent. Dietrich of Apolda wrote that Gertrude, during the King's absence, conducted the affairs of the kingdom "like a man". She was reported to be quite popular with the Hungarian people, but this popularity never extended to the Hungarian nobles. Gertrude distributed lands as "gifts" for her relatives while her husband was away, and this earned her the anger and hatred of the nobles.

So while King Andrew was campaigning in Galicia, the nobles hatched a plot to murder the queen. While on a hunt with her brother Bethold and several guests in the Pilis Mountain, Gertrude was killed, her body said to be torn into pieces. Berthold and the other guests barely escaped with their lives. The brutal act left an indelible impression on Gertrude's eldest son, Bela, who had probably seen her mother's murder firsthand.

Bela wanted to see all the conspirators executed but his father only executed the group's leader. The other members of the group were pardoned and left unpunished, and this fueled Bela's growing antipathy towards his father. When he became King of Hungary in 1235, one of his first act after his accession was to avenge his mother's murder.

Gertrude's tomb is in Pilisszentkereszt Abbey in Hungary.

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