History Rhymes
Nineteenth-century History
Kings of Bavaria: King Ludwig III
King Ludwig III

King Ludwig III
Source: WürzburgWiki

A long, tragic series of events brought King Ludwig III to the Bavarian throne. He was the monarch who was never destined to become king and yet ended up wearing the crown against all odds. He did not inherit it, but instead took it from his mentally ill cousin after the Bavarian Parliament amended the constitution allowing him to do so. Ludwig would also be the last of the Bavarian kings and his short reign, marked by World War I, would, in fact, usher in the end of his family’s 738-year rule over Bavaria.

Ludwig Luitpold Josef Maria Aloys Alfried was born on January 7, 1845 in Munich to Prince (later Prince Regent) Luitpold and Archduchess Auguste Ferdinande of Austria. Like his cousin, Ludwig, he was named after his grandfather, King Ludwig I, who also became his godfather. When Ludwig was born, the odds of him ascending the throne were very slim. His uncle, Maximilian, was the crown prince and any sons he would have (later Ludwig and Otto) would inherit the throne before him. Of course his own father also stood before him in the line of succession.

Not destined to become king, the Prince spent the first part of his childhood in the Electoral Rooms in the Munich Residence before his family moved to Leuchtenberg Palace. At the age of sixteen, he joined the Bavarian military when his uncle, who was by then King Maximilian II, gave him a commission as a lieutenant in the 6th Jägerbattalion. In 1864, Ludwig began studying philosophy, law, history and economics at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, but quit a year later in 1865.

When the Austro-Prussian War broke out in 1866, Ludwig participated as a first lieutenant on the side of Bavaria and the Austrian Empire. During the war, he was shot in the thigh at the Battle of Helmstedt which contributed to the fact that he was generally adverse to the military — a bitter fact considering that his reign is primarily associated with Bavaria’s participation in the First World War.

Ludwig married Maria Theresia, Archduchess of Austria-Este and Princess of Modena on February 20, 1868 in Vienna, Austria. The marriage turned out to be very happy and resulted in thirteen children, the oldest of which was Prince Rupprecht who would fight for his claim to the Bavarian throne long after the end of the monarchy.

A Young Ludwig

A Young Ludwig
Source: Wikipedia

The Archduchess brought a significant fortune with her into the marriage, enabling Ludwig to purchase the Leutstetten Estate near the city of Starnberg south of Munich. There he could pursue his life-long interest in agriculture, eventually transforming the estate into a model of success. In fact, he was named the Honorary President of the Central Committee of the Bavarian Agricultural Society in 1868 and many people called him Millibauer (High German: Milchbauer; English: dairy farmer).

On June 9, 1886, the Prince’s cousin, King Ludwig II, was declared unfit to reign, deposed, and his father, Luitpold, was made regent a day later. Suddenly, Ludwig found himself sucked into the center of power as the heir to the regency. His other cousin, who was now King Otto I, had already been declared insane and unfit to reign. His father’s regency lasted for 26 years until his death on December 12, 1912, when Ludwig inherited the regency.

Ludwig’s regency did not last long. Almost immediately, many parts of Bavarian society began calling for him to be named king in his own right since it was clear that Otto would never be fit to reign. The Bavarian Parliament was not in session at that time and it took almost a year for them to amend the constitution which would allow Ludwig to depose Otto and ascend the throne.

Parliament added a clause to the Bavarian constitution on November 4, 1913 that specified that if a regency lasted at least ten years due to the king being incapacitated, the regent could assume the kingship himself with the ratification of Parliament. The next day, Ludwig proclaimed the end of the regency and, upon ratification by Parliament, became King Ludwig III. He took his oath on November 8, 1913.

Even as king, Ludwig continued to walk around Munich without much thought as to where he was going and would frequently meet with bourgeois friends. He continued to cultivate his interest in agriculture which cartoonists made endless fun of, although it never seemed to bother Ludwig.

Less than a year later, Europe was plunged into chaos by the outbreak of World War I. To most royal contemporaries, the war seemed at first to be like any of the other inter-European wars that had taken place for centuries and Ludwig was no different. The King immediately dispatched a message to Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin assuring Bavaria’s support on the side of the German Empire, but several days later he made it known that should the German Empire be victorious, he expected more territory for Bavaria, including the province of Alsace.

As the war dragged on, the King became increasingly unpopular. Many accused him of blindly following Prussia into the war and were unhappy with Bavaria’s role in it. On January 28, 1918, there was a general protest against the war all over Bavaria — the first to occur.

King Ludwig III of Bavaria

An Older King Ludwig III
Source: Wikipedia

As the war came to an end, the German Revolution of 1918-1919 broke out throughout all of the German Empire, including Bavaria. On November 12, 1918, King Ludwig issued the Anif declaration (Anifer Erklärung) from Anif Palace in Austria where he had fled to on November 7th. The document released all those who had sworn an oath of loyalty to him, including soldiers, government officials and civil servants from their vows.

The King did not abdicate, however, the new republican government under Kurt Eisner interpreted it as such and declared Ludwig and his family deposed, officially ending the monarchy in Bavaria and, with it, the 738-year history of Wittelsbach rule. He was the first of all German monarchs to lose his throne in the aftermath of the war.

Ludwig returned to Bavaria shortly afterwards where his wife, Maria Theresia, died on February 3, 1919 at Wildenwart Castle in Chiemgau. Shortly thereafter, Eisner was assassinated and, fearing that he might become the target of a counter-assassination, Ludwig fled to Hungary, later moving to Liechtenstein and Switzerland. He returned to Bavaria in April 1920 when he felt that the immediate danger had passed where he lived at Wildenwart Castle. In September 1921, Ludwig took a trip to his Castle Nádasdy in Sárvár, Hungary.

On October 18, 1921, King Ludwig III, the last king of Bavaria and last ruler of the House of Wittelsbach died. His body was brought back to Munich on November 5, 1921 and, despite fears of a movement to restore the monarchy, a state funeral was held with an estimated 100,000 spectators. He was buried in the Frauenkirche in the center of Munich.

Ludwig III’s five-year, serendipitous reign was short, but with World War I and the abolishment of the monarchy, probably the most eventful of any other Bavarian monarch’s. It is difficult to judge his capability as king since the war overshadows any smaller achievements he may have accomplished.

In spite of the fact that it took a long chain of events over the course of many years and an amendment to the Bavarian constitution for Ludwig to be able to ascend the throne, fate saw it fit to make him king. The bitter irony is that it was marked by military conflict to which he was so adverse and in the aftermath, he was forced to witness his family’s long rule over Bavaria come crashing down.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the kings of Bavaria. See the rest of the series either on the Kings of Bavaria project page or in the category of the same name.

Kings of Bavaria: King Otto I
King Otto I

King Otto I
Source: Wikipedia

King Otto I was the king who never reigned. His story was a tragic one that to this day remains unique in the history of Bavaria. He became king upon his older brother’s death, but as he had already been declared insane and mentally unfit to rule, his uncle took over his royal duties as prince regent. Otto made no significant contribution to Bavaria and spent most of his time imprisoned in various palaces in and around Munich.

Otto Wilhelm Luitpold Adalbert Waldemar was born on April 27, 1848 and was the second son of King Maximilian II Joseph and Marie of Prussia. Most of his childhood was spent with his brother, the future King Ludwig II, and their tutors at Hohenschwangau Castle near Füssen in southern Bavaria. Both were estranged from their parents who spent hardly any time with them and were very strict. Their mother, for example, always made sure that Ludwig wore blue clothing while Otto was made to wear red, despite rarely seeing them.

At the age of fifteen, Otto began his brief career in the Bavarian army in 1863 where he was appointed sub-lieutenant on his birthday of the same year. As was typical with royalty, he moved up through the ranks quickly. Less than a full year later, on March 1, 1864, he was admitted to the Cadet Corps and a couple of months later, on May 26, 1864, was promoted to full lieutenant. Otto was then promoted to captain on his eighteenth birthday on April 27, 1866 when he began active military service in the Royal Bavarian Infantry Guards. In this role, the Prince participated in both the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and later as colonel in the fateful Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871.

When King Maximilian II died on March 10, 1864, Otto’s brother, Ludwig, inherited the crown making Otto next-in-line to the throne. As such, his responsibilities increased. The apex of his royal career was representing his brother together with his Uncle Luitpold at the proclamation of Prussian King Wilhelm I to German Emperor at the Palace of Versailles, which Ludwig refused to attend. Both brothers were disgusted by the formation of the German Empire as well as their ambitious Prussian relatives. This fact did not escape the Prussian government. Otto lambasted the ceremony in a letter to Ludwig: “Oh Ludwig, I cannot describe to you the endless pain and hurt I felt during the ceremony […] Everything was so cold, so proud, so lustrous, so flaunty and ostentatious and heartless and empty.”1

A Young Otto

A Young Otto
Source: Wikipedia

Otto and Ludwig remained close and performed many of the royal duties together, such as visiting Wartburg Castle in 1867. Although his brother was reclusive and introverted, Otto was outgoing and extroverted until the Franco-Prussian War after which the dark clouds of mental illness began to form. He became depressed and anxious and began to seek solitude, avoiding contact with other people altogether. Reports on his decline were regularly sent to Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

In 1872 — less than a year after the end of the Franco-Prussian War, Otto was officially declared mentally ill. He would spend the majority of the rest of his life locked away in various palaces. At first, he was moved to the southern pavilion of Nymphenburg Palace in Munich in 1873, then later removed to Schleissheim Palace north of Munich. In 1883, three years before his brother’s displacement and death as well as his own ascension to the throne of Bavaria, he was moved to Fürstenried Palace just south of Munich where he spent the remainder of his life imprisoned.

Not only did Otto retreat from all public life, he also had outbursts of strange behavior that were embarrassing for the royal family. The most famous example occurred in 1875, during Corpus Christi Mass in the Frauenkirche in Munich. He ran into the middle of the service wearing hunting clothes and, dropping to his knees, begged the celebrant, Archbishop Gregor von Scherr, for forgiveness for his sins. Churchmen had to lead him away.

Dr. Bernhard von Gudden, head of the Munich Asylum, was commissioned to treat Otto. This is the same psychiatrist who, several years later, would diagnose Otto’s brother, Ludwig, as mentally ill without so much as an examination. Dr. von Gudden made no effort to treat the Prince, prescribing several drugs instead to pacify him. Several contemporaries speculated that this treatment was part of a plan by Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck to prevent both Otto and Ludwig from ruling Bavaria. Both were known to be anti-Prussia and to loathe the new German Empire whereas their uncle, Prince (later Prince Regent) Luitpold, and Dr. von Gudden were both pro-Prussia and for the German Empire.

Ludwig died on June 13, 1886 and Otto became king of Bavaria. Though he was officially king, his mental state prevented him from performing any of his royal duties and so a regency began with his Uncle Luitpold ruling in his place. In the same year, the senior royal medical officer diagnosed Otto as schizophrenic.

Body of King Otto I of Bavaria

Body of King Otto I
Source: Wikipedia

Luitpold remained prince regent until his own death in 1912, when his son, Ludwig — Otto’s cousin, took over the regency. At this time, it was obvious that Otto was never going to be able to reign and many parts of Bavarian society began calling for Ludwig to become king in his own right. On November 4, 1913, the Bavarian constitution was amended by Parliament to include a clause specifying that if a regency lasted for ten years with no reasonable expectation that the king would ever be capable of reigning again, the Parliament and the regent could depose him and the regent could become king.

Exactly that happened the next day. Ludwig proclaimed himself King Ludwig III and Parliament confirmed it a day later on November 6, 1913, ending Otto’s kingship. King Otto was, however, allowed to keep his title and honors for the remainder of his life.

Otto only lived another three years when he died unexpectedly on October 11, 1916 of a volvulus (an obstruction of the bowel). His remains were buried in the crypt of the Michaelskirche in Munich and, as was Bavarian custom, his heart was placed in a silver urn and sent to the Gnadenkapelle in Altötting with those of his brother, father and grandfather.

As the king who never reigned, King Otto I is a figure in Bavarian history that is easily forgotten. He lived in the shadows of those who were kings before him: his father and his brother (arguably the most famous of all Bavarian kings) as well as those who were kings for him: his uncle and his cousin. He never made any significant contribution to Bavarian history and spent most of his years locked away, alone with his demons.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the kings of Bavaria. See the rest of the series either on the Kings of Bavaria project page or in the category of the same name.

The Rise of Democracy in England
Houses of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century

Houses of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century
Source: C_KHA

Democracy is a term, which is universally understood today to be a style of government in which the everyday person has a say. Today’s idea of democracy, however, has taken centuries to develop and no other country has such a unique history with democracy as that of England. From the first Norman kings in the eleventh century CE, to today’s complex relationship between the English people, the monarchy and the Parliament, the process by which the English have come to govern themselves in modern times is quite a tale unto itself. England’s unique style of democracy is the by-product of centuries of development in which the struggle for authority and power between the monarchy, the aristocracy, Parliament and eventually the middle class play a significant role.

When William I formally received the crown of England on Christmas Day in 1066, he probably had no idea that he would be the founder of an era of English, and later British, history that would last a thousand years into the present day. Traditionally looked upon as the founder of the modern British monarchy, William of Normandy won control of England after defeating the Anglo-Saxon king and ruler of England, Harold II, on 14 October 1066 at the Battle of Hastings.1 By this time, England had been united under a single king for just over one hundred years. When William I established himself as king, he brought with him ideas and practises of governing from the continent hitherto unknown in the British Isles. One such concept was the idea of feudalism. A minor form of feudalism already existed in England prior to William’s conquest of England, but it was nothing like the formal system that existed in continental Europe which was introduced to England when William became king.2 The introduction of feudalism gave the new monarchy an air of legitimacy in that England’s established nobility was replaced with Norman nobility who already owed liege to William.3 He used this situation to establish himself as king and to subjugate the English people under his absolute control. For two more centuries, the power of the king would go largely unchecked, practically giving the king free reign to rule as he saw fit.

By the thirteenth century, however, the power, which the monarch could wield, began to wane under pressures from the English nobility. The unfortunate reign of King John (1199-1216) resulted in signing of the Magna Carta, a charter guaranteeing certain rights to the English nobility, in 1215. King John was not very adept at warfare and, as such, lost much of what had belonged to the English monarchy in France since the time of William I. His futile warfare in France was funded by heavy taxation on English barons. By 1215, the English barons had had enough of the heavy tax burdens and forced King John to sign a document that listed their demands if they were to provide the king with further funding. Their list of demands was laid out for the king in the Magna Carta, which became one of the most important documents in English history. While some of it was only relevant to thirteenth century England, many parts of the document still apply to today’s society. Such pieces guaranteed “justice of the court” for everyone and prohibited the king from taking property without compensation or consent, to name a few4. Although the Magna Carta did not mean as much to contemporaries as it did to later generations, it was the foundation upon which subsequent bills guaranteeing rights and civil liberties to the common man in England would be built.

While other implementations of the Magna Carta would be introduced in the subsequent decades and centuries after King John’s reign, no other century played such an important role in the development of human rights in England as did the seventeenth century in terms of the number of important pieces of human rights legislature enacted by the English government. Seventeenth century England would see the greatest social upheaval in English history since the time of the Romans: the English civil wars. Several years of civil war would result in the creation and adoption of several new bills guaranteeing rights to the individual. The execution of King Charles I on 30 January 1649 marked the end of the Second Civil War (1647-1649), as well as the end of the English monarchy. Under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, the English Parliament abolished the monarchy, leaving England, for the first time in centuries, without a monarch. During the ensuing reign of Parliament, not much was done for civil liberties for the common man, however, upon the reestablishment of the monarchy with the return of Charles II to England as king in 16605, it was clear that the civil wars had had an impact on the role and limitations of the monarch in England.

The period after the reign of King Charles II is known as The Glorious Revolution and was a prime environment for the culturing of human rights and limitations on the English monarchy. The Bill of Rights was made into law in 1689. This important bill made the monarchy conditional on the will of Parliament, it denied the crown the ability to suspend laws without parliamentary authorisation, it prohibited the levying of taxes and maintenance of a standing army during peacetime and it gave members of parliament complete freedom of speech, among many other things.6 The Triennial Act of 1694 guaranteed that general elections would be held for Parliament every three years and the Toleration Act of 1689 granted religious tolerance to Protestants. Together, many of the acts enacted by the English government during this time formed the basis for England’s modern-day constitution and constitutions in other western democracies such as the United States.7 If the seventeenth century saw an escalation of interest in human rights, the following century would challenge the ideals formed during that time.

Parliament in session ca. 17th-18th Century

Parliament in session ca. 17th-18th Century
Source: www.parliament.uk

Eighteenth century England was a period marked with an abrupt change of thinking when compared to that of the previous century in which the government and aristocracy’s struggle to maintain their place in the English hierarchical society would induce a surge of radical, democratic thought. No one during this time embodies this struggle so much as King George III (1760-1820). The beginning of his reign saw the transformation of England from nothing more than a European power to a world power with the defeat of France at the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763. King George’s place as monarch of the most powerful nation on Earth suddenly meant that he was the most powerful person in the world. As such, he felt compelled to attempt to restrict the rights of his subjects. The king gathered to him a secret group of people, known as the “King’s Friends,” which used bribes to degrade the English constitution.8 He encouraged Parliament to encroach on the rights of individuals in his kingdom to the point that Parliament, especially the House of Commons, “was beginning to exercise control upon the people, whereas ‘it was designed as a control for the people’”. King George’s policy of civil rights infringement provoked radicalism towards democracy.9 In 1780, a band of reformers, led by Charles James Fox, founded the Society for Constitutional Information.10 The society published pamphlets in which they proposed a programme that demanded annual parliaments, universal suffrage, equal voting districts, abolition of the requirement of being a landowner to become a member of Parliament, payment for members of Parliament and the ability to vote by ballot for parliamentary elections. Although quickly forced to disband, the impact that the society had on England was quite strong. The movement was revived 58 years later in 1838. Factors outside of England, such as the French Revolution, also contributed to the rise of democratic thinking.

When the people of France revolted against their long established monarchy, the impact of the revolution rippled across the English Channel and caused much unrest amongst the English people. The public at large suddenly became more interested in politics than they had been previously and began to demand reform in the English government. Political clubs began to form all across the nation. Clubs such as The Birmingham Club attacked the electoral system and claimed that “seats for the House of Commons were sold as openly as stalls for cattle at a fair”.11 Despite the newly generated interest in politics by the people of England, the French Revolution caused any prospects for democracy in Britain to suddenly grow dark as politicians and the king began to sternly crack down on the people to prevent such a revolt from happening in England. Fortunately for the English government, however, when Napoleon became emperor of France in 1804, it disgusted most English people and caused them to lose any interest they once may have had in revolution.12 The early nineteenth century not only saw Napoleon’s ascension as French emperor, but also wrought enormous changes in the social structure of English society.

Changes brought about to England in the early nineteenth century redefined the English people’s role in society as well as England’s role in the world, ultimately contributing to the rise of a free economy and a shift towards new democratic thinking. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Waterloo, England suddenly found itself as the dominant military force in Europe having defeated the other major military power of France. After the conclusion of the war, the English government began to withdraw from monitoring and interfering with local markets and the economy, allowing the free market economy to prosper, as its focus shifted to managing its vast empire. Food traders were now virtually entirely independent from government intervention and apprenticeships among the various trades were no longer controlled.13 The new free market economy allowed industry to make a phenomenal leap in progress. England’s Gross Domestic Product rose from £19,258,000 in 1792 to £105,698,000 by 1814 and exports of England’s primary industry – goods made of cotton – tripled between 1801 and 1814. Growing industry in England contributed directly to the growing wealth and influence of the lower classes. Before this time, it would have been impossible in English society for any member of the lower class to gain relatively similar status and influence of that of the hereditary gentry. The new class created for these lower class industrial entrepreneurs was what is now called the middle class.

New members of the middle class possessed unheard of influence on the ancient English aristocracy and as such, intended to have their political voices heard. The wealth of the upper echelon had become dependent on the wealth of the middle class as a large number of ordinary people began to consume products created by companies initially owned and ran by the land-owning upper class. England’s cotton goods industry, for example, produced clothing for the masses and therefore depended on the ability of the middle class to purchase their products. As prominent business figures rose in the middle classes, there was a shift in the source of income for all classes. The aristocracy became dependent on rent of buildings and land; the middle class, or bourgeoisie, depended on profit made from product sales; and the working class, or proletariat, became dependent on the wages earned at places such as factories.14 By the 1820s, the power and influence of the middle class had become so prominent that Earl Grey – who, a decade later, became Prime Minister – branded the middle class as becoming “’the real and efficient mass of public opinion without whom the power of the gentry is nothing’”.15 As the working and middle classes gained more influence, their tolerance for the government’s high taxation and slow responses to domestic disasters quickly waned.

In the early nineteenth century, the English government began to tax the working and middle classes heavily and, despite this, did nothing to solve some of the most prominent domestic crises of the time, which caused unrest among the lower classes. England had accrued an enormous national debt from its wars in the eighteenth century and early in the nineteenth century. The national debt was estimated to be around £861,000,000 with an annual interest rate of £32,600,000.16 To pay for this debt, the government imposed a tax of 30 shillings a head on the working class, who could barely afford food. Industrialism had brought about a mass migration to England’s cities, which were unable to keep up with the influx of new workers. Limited housing and cramped quarters cultured disease and misery among the working class in the cities. Parliament did nothing to relieve the situation, despite the desperation of it.17 Disgruntled workers began to congregate and discuss parliamentary reformation, even though the workers’ right to organise and demonstrate was directly controlled by Parliament. Workers began to no longer accept the authority of the traditional aristocracy or even of businessmen and began to question the old ways of governing. William Cobbett, a contemporary political pamphleteer and journalist, predicted in his October 5, 1816 publication, “Political Register,” that the national debt and the condition of the working class would eventually lead to much needed Parliamentary reform and a means by which the common people could express their political opinions.

Immediate reform came in the form of two act of Parliament. The first of which was the Reform Act of 1832, which increased the number of seats in the House of Commons for the large industrial cities, gave more individuals among the middle class the legal right to vote18 and gave the middle class more political power than ever before. A second reform came for the working class and the paupers in the form of the New Poor Laws Amendment Act of 1834. This act reorganized local parishes into unions governed by the national Poor Law Commissioners.19 Each union had a workhouse, or sometimes called a poorhouse, to which the destitute were sent to live. This act remained the most effective means for the government to deal with the poorest people of England until the first system of welfare was introduced in 1946.

The nineteenth century saw the establishment of democracy as an institution that was made a permanent part of English government and the following century saw its transformation into an intricate system through which all social classes have a voice to some extent in the way they are governed. Despite years of opposition by the monarchy and despite attempts by the gentry to make sure Parliament is run by the upper classes of society, democracy has flourished in England, paving the way for England and its people to govern themselves into the future.


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Bolitho, Hector. The Reign of Queen Victoria. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1948.

British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate 1638-60. “King Charles the First 1600-1649.” http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/charles1.htm (accessed 4 October 2008).

Checkland, S. G.. The Rise of Industrial Society in England: 1815-1885. New York: St Martin’s Press. 1964.

Encyclopædia Britannica Online. “Bill of Rights (British history).” http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/503538/Bill-of-Rights (accessed 4 October 2008).

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Encyclopædia Britannica Online. “Society for Constitutional Information.”
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Gooch, R.K.. The Government of England. New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc, 1937.

Hibbert, Christopher. Queen Victoria in her Letters and Journals. Middlesex: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1984.

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Owston, Timothy J.. “The New Poor Law – 1834 – Britain.” http://freespace.virgin.net/owston.tj/newpoor.htm (accessed 7 December 2008).

Putney, Albert H.. Popular Law Library Vol1 Introduction To The Study Of Law Legal History. Cree Publishing Company, 1908.

Rose, J. Holland. The Rise and Growth of Democracy in Great Britain. Chicago: Herbert S. Stone & Company, 1897.

The Official Web Site of the British Monarchy. “History of the Monarchy > The Anglo Saxon Kings.” http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page14.asp (accessed 23 September 2008).

The Official Web Site of the British Monarchy. “History of the Monarchy > The Normans.” http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page17.asp (accessed 23 September 2008).

Traill, H. D.. Central Government. London: Macmillan and Co., 1892.

UK Parliament. “Parliament: The political institution.” http://www.parliament.uk/about/history/institution.cfm (accessed 4 October 2008).

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Williams, Kate. Interviewed by Rob Attar. BBC History magazine – October 2008 – Part 2. BBC History Magazine Podcast, October 10, 2008.

Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain: Conclusion
Terraced House with Floor Plan

Terraced House with Floor Plan
Source: The Great Wen

Fin-de-Siècle Britain saw many new styles and innovations in the architecture of houses. Some of these new designs were visual whilst others were more practical. A mishmash of styles were created by a number of different architects in an attempt to redefine British architecture, but they would effectively only give the period a sense of chaos. Throughout it all, however, there were common trends which emerged such as the use of new technologies to make homes more affordable and to raise living standards.

Technologies such as electricity and better plumbing were new to the period and gave houses a new set of features which their predecessors never had. Electrical lighting became a standard for upper-middle class houses as early as the Late Victorian period, but had become common for the rest of the middle class by the Edwardian era. Indoor plumbing gave rise to the use of bathrooms and stationary bathtubs as well as indoor water closets. Other technologies directly affected the home, but were not a part of it.

The ability to mass produce wallpaper, glass, rounded wooden balustrades and other decorative items meant that homes became more decorative than they had in the past. The average person could now afford to wallpaper every room in the house to their liking whilst windows became more ornate with the ability to cheaply produce geometric patterns in the glass as well as stained-glass windows. Staircases in the average middle class home could now be much fancier with carved balustrades and decorative railings. All of these were used to the owner’s advantage to show off the family’s social and financial standing in the community. Of course all of these Fin-de-Siècle trends had their exceptions. Not all buildings were built following them, but enough were to be able to define the era’s architecture by them.

Architecture in the Fin-de-Siécle found itself in a similar situation to just about everything in the period. It was at a crossroads between the old and the new as technology continued to develop at an ever-increasing, exponential rate which would see the twentieth century advance like never before. Houses reflected this mixture between the old and the new in that many elements and values of the home remained from the High Victorian era, but obvious signs of change had already begun to take place in every aspect. The Fin-de-Siècle house, therefore, is a very important milestone in the evolution of British housing.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain. See the rest of the series either on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page or in the category of the same name.

The full bibliography is located on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page.

Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain: The Interior in Fin-de-Siècle Britain
Edwardian Interior

Edwardian Interior

Middle class families, like their upper-class peers, took the interior of their houses very seriously. It was the primary means with which they could put their financial and social status on display for the world to see. As such, interior design was arguably the quickest developing part of the house which continually morphed into different styles. Naturally trends in decoration still did occur.

Public rooms in the house were always by far the most stylish and highly decorated. One of the sure signs of a room’s public intention is the ceiling rose. This was an ornate decorative piece which was attached to the ceiling in the centre of the room. They usually contained floral patterns, although they were normally painted to match the ceiling.40 The primary light — a gas lamp at the beginning of the Fin-de-Siècle, but quite often powered by electricity by the Edwardian period — hung down from the centre of the ceiling rose. Another sign of a public room was its cornices. Also called covings, these trim pieces decorated the upper corners of the room where the walls met the ceiling. In upper-middle class homes, these could be very ornately carved pieces with patterns such as leaves.41 The ceiling rose and the cornice were only a couple of many holdovers from the High Victorian period. Private rooms were more often fairly simplistic and lacked many of the decorative features of the public rooms. A common feature shared among all rooms, however, was the fireplace.

Located along one wall or, in many Edwardian houses, in a corner of the room, the fireplace was arguably one of the most important aspects of any room. Furniture was usually placed in the vicinity of the fireplace which was practical for Britain’s long winters. It became a symbol of sociability and family unity. Whilst these were also Victorian values which had been inherited, they remained very important throughout the Fin-de-Siècle as well. Decorative pieces made out of wood were attached to the wall immediately surrounding the fireplace and together were called the chimneypiece.42 As with other aspects of a room, chimneypieces were highly ornate in public rooms, often containing carved floral designs or simple patterns. They remained more practical in private rooms with less carvings. The mantelpiece, located directly above the fireplace, served as a shelf on which to set a clock and knick-knacks for prominent display. Like their Victorian predecessors, fireplaces also had an overmantel which usually consisted of nothing but a mirror to give the room a larger appearance. Unlike in the Victorian era, however, it generally did not matter how large and fancy the mirror was as far less importance was placed on it. This was due to the fact that plate glass had become cheap enough that even the poorest of the middle class could afford large mirrors.43 Another piece of decoration which became more affordable during the Fin-de-Siècle was wallpaper.

In Late Victorian and Edwardian houses, walls were primarily covered in wallpaper and relief paper rather than painted. This was true of the houses belonging to the upper-middle class as early as the High Victorian era, but by the Fin-de-Siècle, wallpaper had become cheap enough that the lower-middle class could also afford it. Cheaply produced rolls of wallpaper printed in factories had become available mid-century and were very fashionable by the end of the century.44 These were simpler in design and used much lighter colours than before as both were easier to print. Relief paper was also popular and was generally used to cover the dadoes — the lower part of the wall where a wainscot would be located. This type of paper had three-dimensional patterns which were pressed into the paper to make them pop out. Other innovations in materials also allowed for other parts of the house to be more decorative than before.

Flooring is a prime example of something which became more elaborate during the Fin-de-Siècle. The rising popularity of a new material called linoleum allowed the middle class to have ornate patterns covering their floors.45 Linoleum could be cheaply mass produced and could be made with a very large variety of designs which is how it gained such popularity. An advertisement for it from the early twentieth century shows several, very different designs and boasts of the ‘ever increasing popularity’ whilst claiming that the company has ‘an enormous stock suitable for Halls, Offices, Libraries, Books, Yachts, Churches, Bedrooms, and Nurseries’.46 Cheaper building materials, however, were just a single type of innovation of the Late Victorian and Edwardian periods.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain. See the rest of the series either on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page or in the category of the same name.

The full bibliography is located on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page.

Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain: Floor Plans and the Layouts of Houses
Town House in Charles Street, London

Town House in Charles Street, London
Source: Edwardian Promenade

The floor plans of Late Victorian and Edwardian houses began to reflect the continually increasing standards of living and the rise of new domestic technologies throughout the periods. Whilst working-class houses and the homes of the wealthy did not change much in terms of style or size, houses targeted at the middle class generally became larger. One interesting development during the Edwardian period was the inclusion of the service rooms — kitchen, water closet, coal stores, etc — into the actual layout of the house itself.32 Victorian houses tended to have rear extensions attached to the back of the house which contained these rooms and effectively separated them from the main living quarters. The main purpose for this was to make the rear garden a more lively and presentable place where home owners could entertain guests without the service rooms intruding on the occasion.

Other service rooms were relatively new comers to moderate-sized houses. The most obvious example is the domestic bathroom. By the Edwardian period, bathrooms had become standard in houses.33 Bathrooms were not, however, as are seen today as toilets were still located in a separate room called the water closet.34 Although many houses had contained some sort of indoor water closet as early as the High Victorian era, most were either built in later by the owner of the house or they were only to be found in the much larger homes of the wealthy. Bathing still generally took place in bedrooms or dressing rooms. Indeed, the idea of having a separate room exclusively for bathing was quite new itself, even in wealthier homes. Bathrooms first became widespread after centralised plumbing and water heating systems became popular. Whilst boilers were also used in High Victorian homes, they were generally only useful in the room in which they were located which was most often the kitchen. It wasn’t until the Late Victorian period when plumbing throughout the entire house allowed hot water from the boiler in the kitchen to be redirected to a different part of the house that having the tub situated in a fixed location made any sense. Before, hot water had been taken from the kitchen up to a tub in a bedroom or dressing room by pitchers rendering the location of the tub was entirely irrelevant. By the Edwardian era bathrooms had become an essential part of the house and were even included in many new working class homes.35 Whilst this was a significant addition to the working class house, larger houses underwent even larger changes during this period.

The floor plans of larger houses designed for the upper-middle class changed quite significantly during the Fin-de-Siècle. Whereas in the High Victorian era, the front hall would usually have been quite narrow and restricted due to the general narrowness of the houses, Late Victorian and especially Edwardian houses tended to be wider, allowing for much larger central halls to impress guests as they first entered the building.36 This was especially true for detached houses. Located in the main hall was the house’s primary staircase. Ornamented with elegantly carved wooden trimmings, they were a often a source of pride for the home owner and therefore its central location played a vital role in presenting the owner’s home to guests.37 As in most layouts for High Victorian homes, public rooms tended to be located on the ground floor towards the front of the house. These were rooms such as the dining room and the parlour. More private rooms or rooms which were out of necessity supposed to be quieter such as the library and the drawing room were usually located towards the rear of the house. Service rooms such as the kitchen and scullery were also normally placed at the rear so that they were out of sight.38 Rooms on the first floor were primarily bedrooms, bathrooms and other private rooms, although some larger but narrow houses carried over the tradition from Regency and Early Victorian homes with the dining room and/or drawing room being located on the first floor. Smaller houses, however, did not change nearly as much as their larger counterparts.

Throughout the Fin-de-Siècle smaller houses aimed at the middle class tended to carry on the layout traditions first established in the Early Victorian era. These were mostly terraced or semi-detached houses which were larger than their working class equivalents. The predominant changes were the addition of bathrooms and indoor water closets as well as the inclusion other service rooms into the house proper. Service rooms were still located toward the rear of the house, however. Due to the narrowness of these houses, the rooms were located one behind the other meaning that only one room could have been located in the front. As in larger houses, however, the most important public room would have been located at the front of the house. This would generally have been either the parlour or the dining room.39 Whereas the front door in working class houses would have opened directly into the front room, even narrow middle class houses would have had an entrance hallway with a decorative main staircase. This was a very important distinction between the two types of houses and was often one of the only distinguishing factors aside from pure size differences. Interiors in general were used in setting those apart who were socially and financially better off.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain. See the rest of the series either on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page or in the category of the same name.

The full bibliography is located on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page.

19th Century News Tips

As part of my efforts to reinvent History Rhymes, I would like to not only publish articles about various topics in nineteenth-century American and European history, but also write about the latest news and research in the field. Of course as a single person, this is a difficult task to keep up with.

That is why I am asking for your help. If you have any news tips or would like to point to a source of nineteenth-century news, please contact me about it.

If it is a piece of news, then please also include the source so that I can reference it and follow up.

Thank you!

— Alex

Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain: Trends in the Design of Domestic Façades
Edwardian Façades

Edwardian Façades in London
Source: Wikipedia

Façades in Fin-de-Siècle Britain changed quite significantly. Early in the period they were very similar to their High Victorian counterparts, but through the designs of architects such as Morris, Webb and Shaw, they began to transform. By the Edwardian era, however, they had become enough different that they could easily be identified as specifically belonging to the period. The façades of houses from the Fin-de-Siècle can be divided into two periods which each have their own characteristics: Late Victorian and Edwardian.

Late Victorian façades were, as would be expected, an odd combination of their High Victorian predecessors and their Edwardian successors. A key element which Late Victorian houses retained was the way in which brick and stone was used in the façade. A single type of brick or stone was still primarily used to build or surface the entirety of the walls of the house. Quoins of a different style — corners that were made to look different from the rest of the façade — were also quite common with Norman Shaw setting an example for other architects by making extensive use of them. Another common characteristic of Late Victorian façades was the use of sharp angles and steep slopes inherited from the Gothic Revival movement.26 These were especially prevalent in the brickwork above windows and in the way the roof was shaped. Windows also tended to be simple glass or ‘sash windows’ with the use of stained glass and windows with geometric patterns first becoming popular in the Edwardian era.

Façades of Edwardian period shared many characteristics with those from the Late Victorian era, but there were some significant differences which made them stand apart from their earlier counterparts. When looking at an Edwardian house, one of the most striking differences is the common use of bricks and stucco together. Whilst Victorian façades stuck primarily to bricks and stones, Edwardian houses began to make use of a combination of the two building styles.27 Very often the ground floor would be bricked whilst the first floor was faced with white stucco. Another innovation in this period was the total omission of bricks or stone in favour of a façade completely created in — generally white — stucco. Mock-Tudor style houses with the prominent use of timber first began to appear in Late Victorian Britain, but the style became particularly popular in the Edwardian period with many moderate-sized homes taking advantage of this type of façade. Some houses even had an odd combination of mock-Tudor and red brick façades which are very unique to this time period.28

One innovation of this period was the use of ‘pebbledash’ façades. These were façades that were covered with small pebbles and shingle mixed with concrete and usually left unpainted.29 Brickwork arches above windows in Edwardian houses were also ‘softened’ to be not as sharp and steep as their Gothic predecessors. The windows themselves were very often made of stained glass, but when they were not, many of them had geometric patterns. Small squares or rectangles were common,30 but unique diamond-like shapes were also very popular.31 Another interesting new development during the Edwardian period was the use of decorative terracotta panels directly inserted into the outside walls. These generally contained patterns such as swirls, floral designs, or other round patterns which would be used to break the monotony of the rectangular bricks. Very much like the façades, the layout of Fin-de-Siècle houses began to deviate from their High Victorian counterparts until they became something quite different altogether.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain. See the rest of the series either on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page or in the category of the same name.

The full bibliography is located on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page.

The Caudillo and the Führer: Franco’s Spain and Hitler’s Germany
Franco and Hitler

Franco and Hitler
Source: NPR

Early in the twentieth century, a new and unique system of government emerged in Europe which would replace most of the age-old monarchies and eventually lead the continent into the modern era of democracy. Fascism, a form of extreme right-wing, nationalistic government controlled by a powerful dictator, rose in Europe from the ashes of the First World War. Germany and Spain were two of the predominant countries where fascism was nurtured and bought to life by vicious, yet charismatic men: Adolf Hitler with his National Socialist (Nazi) Party in Germany and Francisco Franco with his Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista (FET y de las JONS) party in Spain. Both fascist dictators controlled repressive regimes which resulted in the deaths of millions of people. Although they were similar when it came down to their political practices and their view of capitalism and of communism, they were quite different in many respects regarding how the dictators came to and exercised power, their views of and stances in the Second World War and their relationships with other powers.

It is well known that Hitler and his Nazi party eventually came to power through legal means in Germany, however, it is probably less well known how Franco came to power in Spain only a few years after Hitler’s seizure of power. It was on November 9, 1923 that Hitler’s first attempt at seizing power proved to be unsuccessful. The Beer Hall Putsch, or Hitlerputsch as it is known in German, was his first attempt to violently overthrow the unstable Weimar government by first overthrowing the Bavarian government in Munich. His so-called revolution was a total failure with Bavarian police easily able to prevent it.1 For his efforts, Hitler was tried for high treason and sentenced to five years of prison. He only ever served eight months of his sentence, however.2 After his time in prison, Hitler reestablished the Nazi party which had essentially been broken up after the Putsch, according to his own views. Part of this new organization included the idea that the best way to seize power would be through a constitutionally legal means. They ironically ran for elections in September 1930 and won by a “landslide” victory.3 In 1932, Hitler unsuccessfully ran for president against Paul von Hindenburg and in 1933, won the chancellorship from which position he was able to consolidate his power. Other than the Beer Hall Putsch, the Nazi take over of the government was relatively non-violent when compared to that of Franco’s seizure of power.

As with Hitler, Franco used a period of instability in the incumbent government to take control of the country, however, unlike the situation in Germany, Franco’s rebellion led to years of Civil War in Spain. On July 17, 1936, the uprising, which had been in the planning stages for quite sometime, began when, upon the orders of General Franco, the military began to rebel in garrisons throughout Spain.4 The eventual result was the destruction of the Spanish Republic and the placement of Franco as absolute head of state. Both Hitler and Franco came to power by different means, however, they were both inarguably the center of power in their regimes which is reflected by how their governments exercised that power.

A key difference between the way Franco ran Spain and the way Hitler controlled Germany includes the way in which they were able to motivate their populations to rally around a certain cause. Without Hitler and his flamboyant personality, even with another dictator in his place, the Holocaust, for example, may not have happened to the same extent that it did. He managed to motivate and mobilize a down-trodden post-World War I Germany into a very proud, nationalistic force which possessed unrealistic goals of thousand-year empires. A possible explanation for this ‘Nazi-fanaticism’ could be explained by taking the cult of people that followed Hitler’s personality, which formed well before he had even taken power, into consideration.5 Franco, on the other hand, never really had such a cult. The National Socialist Party had over 850,000 members before it came to power, whereas the FET y de las JONS Party only had about ten thousand.6 It was not until his coup was successful after the Civil War that people really began to rally around him, although never to the same extent as Hitler. Whereas Nazism was almost bordering on “political religion,”7 Franco’s FET y de las JONS Party had nowhere near the fanatic enthusiasm. Another key factor to consider in the ability of the dictators to influence and motivate their populace is the condition of the pre-fascist governments of both Spain and Germany. Despite the defeat of Germany in the First World War, at the time Hitler took power Germany was a modern state with well-lubricated systems for accomplishing political agendas. The Spanish republic which preceded Franco’s coup was, on the other hand, far less developed both economically and socially making Franco’s regime far less efficient than Hitler’s.8 Another reason that should be examined when differentiating the two dictators and their regimes is their political goals.

When Nazi Germany is brought to mind, it is often directly associated with the Holocaust and the extermination of other ‘undesirables’ as well as the Second World War; when Franco’s regime is thought about, it is often associated with imperialistic views and bringing about a renaissance of the Spanish Empire. Why these are the associations made when these two regimes are thought about is due to their ultimate political agendas. As he wrote about in his book, Mein Kampf, Hitler’s ultimate goals were an ethnic cleansing of Europe and the establishment of an empire that would last a thousand years. He also looked at Germany as being the last line of defense for Western Europe against Russian bolshevism.9 Franco’s external ambitions were more towards the reestablishment of the lost Spanish Empire and the rehabilitation of Spain’s reputation and image in the international scene. This can clearly be seen by his demands on Hitler for Spain’s old colonies in Northern Africa in return for entering World War II on the side of the Axis powers.

No one would argue Hitler’s involvement in World War II, however, Franco was far less involved. That is known for sure, however, depending on which source is consulted, opinions vary as to whether he was not involved simply because Spain’s economy and military were not up to the task or because Franco did not really want to enter into the war. George Hills argues in his book, Franco: The Man and His Nation, that Franco continually — and artfully — evaded Hitler’s demand that he enter the war on the side of the Axis powers because he was convinced that Britain could never possibly be defeated.10 Franco’s stance on Britain made Hitler feel “like a Jew.”11 Hills also mentions that Franco’s generals and staff were both divided on the issue of being pro-Allies or pro-Axis and that he did not want to create a chasm in his delicate new government.12 This, according to Hills, infuriated Hitler on numerous occasions because Hitler wanted Franco to come into the war on the side of the Axis powers to close off the Gibraltar Strait to deny the Allies access to the Mediterranean Sea. Contradictory to Hills’ arguments, Paul Preston, in his book Franco: A Biography, says that Franco was confident of a quick defeat of Britain and that Spain was excited to help, but Germany was not thrilled about the idea.13 Preston goes even so far as to say that Hitler did not want Spain to become involved in the war.14 Carlton J. H. Hayes, American ambassador to Spain from 1942 until 1945, took the middle ground when he wrote in his memoirs that “Spain did not wish an Axis victory but it most ardently wished the defeat of Russia” and Russian Communism.15 Both of the books by Hills and Preston seem to be backed by good sources, however, time may play a key role here. Hills wrote his book in 1967, whereas Preston composed his in 1994.

One issue, however, that neither author denies is that Hitler and Franco met for the first time Hendaye on October 23, 1940 where they discussed the war. The meeting was to take place at 14:00, however, Franco’s train arrived late to the meeting. Hills argues that Franco did it intentionally because he wanted to put Hitler at a “psychological disadvantage from the start.”16 Again, Preston disagrees. He claims that a number of factors, including an attempted assassination, delayed Franco’s arrival at the station in Hendaye.17 When discussing this topic, this is really the only point of contention between the two authors. They both agree that Spain entering the war was discussed and that both leaders came away from the meeting unsatisfied. A general agreement was made that Germany would send much needed military and food supplies to Spain and that Spain would enter the war on Germany’s side at a later, unspecified date.18 Hitler wanted Spain to enter the war or at least to side with the Axis powers, but Franco remained non-committal and just made unrealistic demands on the Germans — such as France’s former colonies in North Africa and massive amounts of food — in exchange for entering the war. It is debatable whether such extravagant demands were made as an excuse not to enter the war or simply because Spain actually needed some of them such as the massive amounts of food since its population was on the brink of starvation. It is this factor that setup relations between Spain and Britain and the United States which used food shipments to help convince Spain to stay neutral.

The relationship between Spain and the Allied powers — particularly with Britain and the United States — was, needless to say, far better than that with Germany with whom the Allied powers were at war. Again, the sources differ as to whether this was because Franco had a fascination with the imperial ambitions of Britain (Hills), or because Franco feared the United States coming into the war on the Allied side (Preston), or because the American government, through the American red cross, and the British government were both sending food stuffs and other limited aid to Spain.19 In return, Franco sent Britain raw materials which were not useful for him.20 Hitler, on the other hand, being in control of a government adamantly at war with Britain and the United States, had little or no relationship with the Allied powers other than that which is inherently derived from war. This point, among other conflicts, caused friction between the two dictators. Their relationships with the Soviet Union, however, painted quite a different picture.

Both men were extraordinarily anti-communist and Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 fully met with Franco’s approval. During the Spanish Civil War, the Soviet government had sent aid in return for the republican government shipping “its entire gold reserve to Moscow for ‘safekeeping.’”21 This, very naturally, did not please Franco because not only did the Soviet government help his enemies, but after the Civil War, refused to return the gold leaving the new Spanish government broke and in dire straits. Of course this set the stage for sour relations between Francoist Spain and the Soviet Union for years to come. After the Second World War, the Soviet Union would bar entry for Spain into the United Nations with Joseph Stalin ironically calling Franco a “totalitarian and aggressor.”22 As the war began, Hitler concluded a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, but, as can be seen by Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, he did not intend to abide by it permanently. The situation for both dictators was different, however, with Benito Mussolini’s Italy.

While there was constant strife between Germany and Spain about their relations with the Allies and there was agreement that both countries despised the communist Soviet Union, the relationship between Germany, Spain and Italy was a much better situation. This is, however, unsurprising considering all three of the countries were ruled by fascist dictators. Hitler and Mussolini — both of whom were the key players in the Axis powers — were at war with the Allied powers while Spain seemed to be the ‘short leg of the fascist stool.’ Although Franco was a dictator in control of a fascist government, it was an unstable government which could contribute nothing to the agendas of either Hitler’s or Mussolini’s regimes. Despite this, Franco maintained a good relationship with Mussolini — and to some degree with Hitler as well — because of their common policies on governing and their views about the communist and capitalist enemy.

Political enemies, or those considered to be enemies of the state or of the ideologies of the regimes, were in eliminated by both Hitler and Franco. In both regimes, this included communists, capitalists or anyone who was anti-fascist or simply against Hitler or Franco. While very similar, there are, however, some key differences. First of all, Hitler is well known for his role in the extermination of European Jews, but what is less well known is that Franco actually helped Jews escape from imprisonment or execution by the Nazis.23 Another major distinguishing factor is that Hitler made it a part of Nazi policy to ‘cleanse’ Germany and indeed Europe, whereas Franco used imprisonment or death as punishment strictly for his political enemies.24 That is not to say that Franco was more sympathetic or more humane than Hitler in anyway. Upon visiting Spain to prepare security for the meeting between Hitler and Franco in Hendaye, Heinrich Himmler, head of the German Schutzstaffel (SS), mentioned to Franco that even he was amazed about how many prisoners were taken and how many executions were performed by the Franco government after the Civil War.25 The prisons were almost bursting with people. Many of Franco’s political prisoners were also sentenced to sometimes fatal hard labor under the conditions of “redemption through work” and in fact much of post-Civil War Spain was rebuilt by these prisoners.26 This “redemption through work” policy has eerie parallels to the German concentration and death camps adorned with the words “Arbeit macht frei” (“work makes freedom”). According to Franco himself, in the six year period between 1939 and 1945, almost two-hundred thousand people were killed by the government with almost ten thousand people killed per one that was killed by Mussolini in Italy.27 These figures are certainly not comparable to the millions killed by the Nazi regime, however, they are not to be taken lightly either.

Neither Adolf Hitler nor Francisco Franco were men who should have been in power. Their regimes were brutal and their methods deadly. Together, they exterminated millions of people and were responsible for destruction on a massive scale caused by many years of war. Political enemies stood no chance under their rule with their merciless executions and hard labor programs. In these ways, both dictators were quite similar, but their irreconcilable differences of the details and execution of policy, their views of and stances in the Second World War and their differing relationships with other powers were often the cause of great friction between the two leaders. Hitler once said of his meeting with Franco in Hendaye that “rather than go through that again, I would prefer to have three or four teeth taken out.”28 This, however, was met with contradictory measures taken by Hitler such as awarding Franco das goldene Grosskreuz des deutschen Adlerordens, or the Golden Grand Cross of the Order of the German Eagle for his “decisive action in Tangier” and for his belligerence during World War II.29 It is difficult to determine exactly how the two leaders saw each other, but the general impression is that Franco looked up to Hitler while Hitler looked down on Franco. Both Hitler and Franco were men to be feared for sure because, while they were different in many regards, they were also quite similar.


Primary Sources
Hayes, Carlton J.H. Wartime Mission in Spain: 1942-1945. New York: The MacMillan
Company, 1945.

National Security Council. A Report to the National Security Council by the Secretary of State
on United States Policy Toward Spain.
Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1947.

Secondary Sources
Beaulac, Willard L. Franco: Silent Ally in World War II. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois
University Press, 1986.

Encyclopedia Britannica. “Spanish Civil War.” http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/

Hills, George. Franco: The Man and His Nation. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1967.
Kershaw, Ian. “Hitler and the Uniqueness of Nazism.” Journal of Contemporary History 39
(April, 2004): 239-254.

The History Place. “Hitler’s Rise to Power.” http://www2.dsu.nodak.edu/users/dmeier/
(accessed December 6, 2009).

Lipschitz, Chaim U. Franco, Spain, the Jews, and the Holocaust. New York: Ktav Publishing
House, Inc, 1984.

Navarro, Vincent. CommonDreams.org. “The Deafening Silence About Franco’s Genocide.”
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0908-32.htm (accessed December 2, 2009).

Preston, Paul. Franco: A Biography. New York: BasicBooks, 1994.

Rich Jr, S. Grover. “Franco Spain: A Reappraisal.” Political Science Quarterly 67 (September,
1952): 378-398.

Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain: Architectural Features of the Home
Edwardian Stained Glass

Edwardian Stained Glass
Source: The Victorian Web

As in all time periods, certain trends defined houses in Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. These were not only visual, but also in terms of how the houses were laid out as well as certain features which were new to the period. Early in the Fin-de-Siècle, the features of a house were not much different than they had been during the High Victorian era. It wasn’t really until the Edwardian period that significant changes appeared in the prominent features of houses which would set them apart from their counterparts of a half-century earlier.

One of the biggest distinguishing factors seen in Edwardian home was the use of stained-glass windows. These were used frequently to decorate and give colour to the house’s façade. In the Edwardian period, colourful floral patterns were very popular which were themselves then intersected by either smaller rectangles or diamond-shaped subsections.21 Whilst these were the most popular patterns, other, more complex stained-glass windows also appeared in larger homes which often, but not always, visually recreated a scene of some sort. Subjects could have ranged widely being anything from Biblical depictions similar to what is found in churches to visual representations of fairy tales or other stories.22 The influx of stained-glass windows could likely be attributed to advances in technology as well as rising living standards and income which made it much more affordable.

Another key feature of the late Fin-die-Siècle house can be seen on many High Victorian homes as well, but with a twist which makes it unique. A new generation of bay windows emerged during the Late Victorian and Edwardian periods. These were two-storey bay windows which would give a room on the first floor the benefit of more windows and therefore more light. It also gave the room slightly more space. These two-storey bay windows were sometimes called a ‘two-storey bow window’.23 The first-storey room which contained the bay window was quite frequently used as a bedroom and a popular use for the extra space was for the occupier’s dressing table and washbasin due to the extra light. By the Edwardian era, bay windows also began to contain more windows. Late Victorian bay windows generally consisted of a large, prominent front window with two narrower windows on either side of it which gave it a boxy look. Some Edwardian houses, on the other hand, had five windows of equal size: one square with front of the house with two on either side of it. This gave the bay windows much more of a circular look and helped reduce sharp edges in the design. Many detached Edwardian houses even featured two sets of bay windows on either side of the front door which was generally located in the centre of the house to give a symmetrical appearance — a complete turn-around from the early Fin-de-Siècle architecture with its chaotic ‘Queen Anne’ design principles. Semi-detached houses also had two columns of bay windows, but there was only one per side of the house. Spanning between the two columns of bay windows was a new feature to British houses: the front porch.

Edwardian houses were the first houses which began to include a front porch. This was generally only a small roof which stretched across the space between the two columns of bay windows and did not cover much more than would protect one or two people from the elements who were standing in front of the door. Regardless of how useful the front porch actually was in the practical sense, it was put to good use in terms of decoration. Adorning the underside of the porch’s roof were often very ornately carved trim pieces.24 Styles varied greatly, but there were many common tendencies which they shared such as thinly carved wooden beams which were set vertically and gave the appearance of a balustrade. The rise in popularity of these was due to advancements in wood-turning which made it easier and far more affordable to created cylindrical carvings.25 Even houses whose front doors were located off-centre had awnings which stretched out to cover the approach to the door. These were also not large, but they covered enough space to be just as effective or ineffective as their centred brethren. Similar in function to the porches were eaves. These were a prominent feature of the façade of Edwardian houses which were built for added protection against the rain.

This post is part of a multi-part series about the houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain. See the rest of the series either on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page or in the category of the same name.

The full bibliography is located on the Houses in Fin-de-Siècle Britain project page.