Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Ruritanian Succession, Part 1

Well, now, how will this work? According to the 'history' we have, Flavia is the last reigning monarch of Ruritania - at least, the last we know about, up to the end of 'Rupert of Hentzau'*. I'm not counting Haythorne's 'The Strelsau Dimension' (1981), Simon Hawke's 'The Zenda Vendetta (Time Wars 4)' (1985) or Spurling's 'After Zenda' (1995), partly because I've never read any of them, and partly (at least in Hawke's and Spurling's cases), because it's not 'our' Ruritania, being variously in the Balkans and Carpathians. Haythorne gets Ruritania in more or less the right place it seems. Maybe worth picking that one up from somewhere.

WIP shot of random Artizan Texas Ranger (painted as generic cowboy) with Westwind Tsarina, Tsar and Zendarian Vampire Hunter; aka, in this context, Queen Flavia, her potential cousin Albert (of Molvania? Of Graustark? Of Strackenz?) and Kolonel von Sanf-und-Schinkel

There's a non-canonical Holmes & Watson story called 'The Seven Percent Solution' by Nicholas Meyers (1974). This sets the action of 'Zenda' in 1891. An additional possibility is a book that I've only just discovered called 'Sherlock Holmes and the Hentzau Affair' by David Stuart Davies(2007). Curioser and curioser...

And there's always 'Royal Flash' by George MacDonald Fraser of course.

Anyway, at the moment there's little we know about the Ruritanian monarchy after the death of Rudolf V (who is, as we now know, Rudolf Rassendyll). Flavia continues to rule; some time later 'Rupert of Hentzau' is published. Finding the gap in time between 'Prisoner' and 1898 (publication of 'Rupert of Hentzau') is something of a matter of taste.

Fritz von Tarlenheim relates the story to his son, of whom there is no hint in the novel: we are left with the impression that the events of 'Prisoner of Zenda' take place some 14 years or more before the time of writing 'Rupert of Hentzau'. If, as we may suspect, publication of Fritz's memoir was swift, we may believe it was written around 1897; if Fritz's son had not been born at the time (as seems reasonable), the events of 'Hentzau' would be around 1886 at the latest (though of course, they could have been several years earlier). The latest date for 'Zenda' is thus c1883. The only times that they must post-date are the building of the railway line from Dresden to Strelsau (around 1840 - actually, having checked this, the first part of the line from Dresden to Prague was opened in 1848), 1848 (when riots burn down the White Palace in Strelsau) and 1852 (the Second Empire in France; Rassendyll has an 'Imperial' beard of a style fashionable in France after this period).

So at some point after 1852, and before 1883, the events of 'Zenda' take place. After that is where it gets tricky.

*However, both PG Wodehouse and Evelyn Waugh refer to an 'ex-King of Ruritania' who works as a doorman at Barribault's Hotel. As Waugh is also a source for the Royal Corps of Halberdiers (of which more to come) and the Loamshire Regiment, as well as other fictional regiments; and Wodehouse is the source for things that definitely exist in the 1920s yet to come, their credentials check out. So we know that there must have been another ruler of Ruritania after 1898. Either a new husband for Flavia (seems unlikely, frankly) or some distant cousin, perhaps? What about some relative descended from Osra's brother (Henry? The one who left anyway), or perhaps from the House of Graustark even?


  1. You can only see two of the models in the picture unless you click on it!

    1. Thanks Lyracian - I seem to be having a problem with my picture sizing at the moment; I'm trying to fix it... hopefully today. They'll get smaller, but hopefully they'll be perfectly formed...

    2. Right - think I've fixed the picture-sizing problem on this post. If you spot any more, please do sing out!