sad royal childhoods

3 Reformation Women: Katharina, Marguerite & Jeanne

Katharina von Bora, Marguerite d’Angoulême and Jeanne d’Albret all left their mark on the Reformation, but all in different ways. Each of them has a unique part in the battle over religious affiliation in 16th-century Europe.

Charles VI of France: The Mad King

France’s mad king Charles VI reigned in the middle of the Hundred Years War between England and France. While his early reign hinted at greatness, things soon spiraled downward.

Lady Jane Grey, the Nine-day Queen

For a very short time between Edward VI and Mary I, Lady Jane was, at least nominally, Queen of England and Ireland, but whether she had any right to the title is still the subject of dispute.

Sophia Duleep Singh, Part 1: Princess In Exile

A princess of the Sikh empire, Sophia Duleep Singh grew up in Great Britain, and was Queen Victoria's god daughter. But her childhood was not exactly a charmed one, and her family, caught between two worlds, experienced great upheaval and tragedy.

Christina of Sweden

Christina was a smart, learned woman, but not a particularly good ruler. Her entire life was marked by being kind of a contradictory, restless character - starting basically from the moment she was born. Read the show notes here.

King Eric XIV of Sweden

A handsome playboy who once courted Queen Elizabeth I, Eric started his time as king with focus and ambition. But his paranoia led him to alienate the aristocracy, fall into violent rages and stab a captive noble to death. Read the show notes here.

Crown Prince Sado of Korea

Crown Prince Sado of Korea -- sometimes called Korea's "Coffin King" -- has been described as insane, depraved and sadistic, but when you examine his short life, it's more complicated than a list of acts of savagery (though there are plenty of those).

Sei Shonagon and the Heian Court

Thanks to the pillow book of lady-in-waiting Sei Shonagon, we have a first-person account of court life in Heian Japan. It's part diary, part commonplace book, part essay collection, and thoroughly fascinating.

Emperor Rudolf II of Austria

He was an art patron. He loved science. He spoke many languages. He was also known for a dark temper and instability, and his poor decisions as a ruler are credited with leading to the Thirty years War.

The Princess who Swallowed a Glass Piano

Princess Alexandra Amelie of Bavaria was part of the House of Wittelsbach. The princess was frail, and she exhibited unusual behavior. She told her parents that she had swallowed a glass piano as a child, and was afraid that she would shatter.