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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Sovereigns of Europe by 1867

Sovereigns of Europe
date: cca. 1867
posted on Facebook by Mr. Alexandru Ursu-Bukowina
no copyright infringement intended

top row, from left to right:
King Christian IX of Denmark, King William I of Prussia (Emperor of Germany from 1871), Emperor Napoleon III of France, Czar Alexander II of Russia, Sultan Abdülaziz of Turkey.

second row top to bottom, from left to right:
King Charles XV of Sweden and Norway, Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, Pope Pius IX, King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, Queen Isabella II of Spain, Prince Johann II of Lichtenstein.

third row top to bottom, from left to right:
King Luis I of Portugal, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, King Leopold II of Belgium, Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden.

bottom row, from left to right:
King Charles I of Württemberg, King George I of Greece, Prince Charles I of Romania (King of Romania from 1881), King William III of the Netherlands (also Grand Duke of Luxembourg).

Nowadays the European heads of state or of government meet every now and then, and each time a group photo is de rigeur. It wasn't like that in the past, so the image above was constructed by grouping the photographs of those twenty sovereigns who had never been in the same place together.

I saw the image on Facebook, posted by a friend who dated it cca. 1900. As for the author of the image, the mention was F. (photographer) Sala and Co, and I couldn't find any reference to it.

From the start I couldn't agree with the date: in 1900 Pope was Leo XIII, while the personage from the middle of the image was not resembling at all with him, rather with Pius X (who became Pope in 1903). This would have moved the date of the image a couple of years after 1900, which was in turn contradicted by the image of Queen Victoria (near the Pope). As Victoria had passed away in 1901, I was forced to admit that either the Pope was not Pius X, or the queen was not Victoria.

Then I noted the text at the bottom. The key to the puzzle was there, only the characters were extremely hard to be read. You had to decipher a little bit and then to guess the whole word. The text was in French, and all names followed the French rule (though most of the sovereigns gathered in the image were Germans): so Johann was Jean, Wilhelm was Guillaume and so on,  which was not making things easier. Another complication: since then some of the countries mentioned in the text have eased to exist as independent states - the case with Baden and Württemberg, for instance.  Well, little by little I was able to decipher all names.

The first surprise: the Pope was Pius IX. Thus, neither Leo XIII, nor Pius X: that was moving the date of the image far before 1900: Pius IX had passed away in 1878!

One of the two women was indeed Queen Victoria, whose reign had been between 1837 - 1901. The other one was Isabella II, Queen of Spain between 1833 - 1868 (when she was forced into exile; formally she abdicated in 1870). This way the date of the image was to be moved before 1868.

Isabella II in her exile to Paris
no copyright infringement intended

All other monarchs from the image had the end of their reign after 1868, some of them had even very long reigns, well into the 20th century. The longest were the reigns of Victoria (1837 - 1901), and Johann II of Lichtenstein (1858 - 1929). Actually the prince of Lichtenstein gave me the hardest problems of identification, as the photo within the collective image had been taken in the 1860's, when he was young, and perfectly shaved. A very different image as the much better known photo taken in 1908. Eventually I was able to find his younger image:

Johann II of Lichtenstein
image from the 1860's
no copyright infringement intended

In order to determine a more precise interval for the image date, I looked at the beginning of the reign for each personage: the closest to 1868 was Prince Charles I of Romania, who started his long reign in 1866 (in 1881 he would become King of the country).

Prince Charles I of Romania
no copyright infringement intended

Thus the image grouping the European sovereigns has been made not earlier than 1866, not later than1868.

(A Life in Books)


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