By Rosalynd Pflaum

Out of the pages of ecu background comes a narrative as colourful and torrid as any sleek fiction—the never-been-told-before-told account of the lives of the grand duchess of Courland and her daughters Wilhelmina and Dorothea. By impression and Desire is the tale of ways those autonomous, clever ladies assisted in shaping the process historical past within the basically approach open to them—in the boudoirs of Paris, Vienna, Saint Petersburg and Berlin.

Catherine the good used to be in energy while in 1779 the gorgeous, eighteen-year-old Anna-Dorothea von Medem, daughter of 1 of the richest and such a lot cosmopolitan households of Courland (now Latvia), was once selected to be the spouse Courland’s Grand Duke Peter. whilst Anna proved extra well known and politically astute than her husband, Peter took her out of the country the place the grand duchess’s effect, and her record of male admirers, grew.

In Paris the grand duchess, whose romantic escapades had lengthy titillated significant eu court docket circles, turned the mistress of Talleyrand, Napoleon’s international minister, whom she aided in an undercover crusade to unseat Napoleon. amorous affairs entangling the duchess and her daughters looked to be the way in which of the Courland ladies. For, like their mom, the Courland daughters have been liberated, shiny, attractive, and adept at dealing with men.

Metternich, the Austrian chancellor who shared with Talleyrand the excellence of being one of many maximum statesmen of the day, took Wilhelmina as his mistress. And whereas the Congress of Vienna struggled to deliver order to a Europe in chaos, Talleyrand and Metternich sought solace and recommendation within the bedrooms of the Courland ladies. many years later, Dorothea used to be to scouse borrow the affections of Talleyrand, who used to be thirty-nine years his senior, supplanting her mom as Talleyrand’s mistress and conserving that function until eventually his loss of life in 1938.

Rosalynd Pflaum used to be encouraged to write down this attention-grabbing historical past whilst she used to be given a quantity of letters among Metternich and Wilhelmina. those letters, came across through Dr. Maria Ullrichova at the back of a man-made wall in a Cistercian Abbey, proved worthy. Drawing in this newly exposed correspondence, at the wide Talleyrand correspondence already on hand, and on a variety of inner most records, Pflaum has recreated those women’s striking lives.

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