Noble Blood

Author Dana Schwartz explores the stories of some of history’s most fascinating royals: the tyrants and the tragic, the murderers and the murdered, and everyone in between. Because when you’re wearing a crown, mistakes often mean blood. New episodes every two weeks, on Tuesdays.

Society & Culture
In the Shadow of the Great
Catherine the Great's son, Paul I, idolized his deceased father Peter III and resented his powerful mother. Unfortunately for him, when he finally became Tsar, he would learn that wielding power isn't as easy as it looks.
21 min
The First and Last Emperor of America
At the end of the 19th century, a man in San Francisco declared himself the Emperor of the United States. Was he mad? Possibly. But he also became a beloved fixture of a city, a unifying symbol, and a monarchical mascot. This is the story of Emperor Norton I.
29 min
From Poland with Love
The daughter of a Jewish heiress and Polish count went on to become one of the most infamous secret agents in British history. The story of Krystyna Skarbek reads like part-spy novel and part-political thriller.
30 min
The People's Princess (with Michael Hobbes and ...
Thanks to the popularity of the television series The Crown, a new generation has become captivated by Princess Diana—her life and her tragedy. She remains an enigmatic figure, undeniably captivating, for both her vulnerability and her power. To better understand her life, and her legacy, Dana speaks with Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes of the podcast 'You're Wrong About.'
77 min
The Three Husbands of Lucrezia Borgia
Her first lover was found dead in a river. Her second husband was strangled in his bed. Perhaps it's no surprise that in popular culture, Lucrezia Borgia has become a femme fatale, a black widow murderess who stepped over husbands in order to achieve her own ends. But the real Lucrezia is a figure far more complex and tragic than the stereotypes might lead you to believe. [Support Noble Blood on Patreon here: Noble Blood merch is available here:]
30 min
Queen Njinga's Cleverness
Queen Njinga ruled the united kingdoms of Ndongo and Matamba while facing off against the constant threat of Portuguese colonization. All it took was the cunning to know who to trust and when. [Support Noble Blood on Patreon here: Noble Blood merch is available here:]
28 min
All Germany Talking of It
In the winter of 1891, a group of 15 Prussian visited a hunting lodge in the woods for what was supposed to be an ice-skating party. Instead, it became an orgy. And then the anonymous letters began arriving. [Support Noble Blood on Patreon here: Noble Blood merch is available here:]
28 min
Juana La Loca
Depending on which stories you read, Juana of Castile is either a woman who went mad after the death of her husband, or a maligned figure who was manipulated by the men in her life so they could rule Spain in her place. Her life is a perfect example of the stories we like to tell about women who go mad. [Support Noble Blood via our Patreon here: Noble Blood merch is available here:]
26 min
The Devil and the Duchess de Praslin
The Duke and Duchess de Praslin were originally a love match. But two decades—and a beautiful, young governess—led to growing tensions and resentment. When the Duchess was found murdered in her bedchamber, the police had no choice but to arrest her powerful husband. (Unrelated: Noble Blood merch is here!
24 min
Piers Gaveston, the King's Favorite
The great love of King Edward II's life was a man named Piers Gaveston. As one contemporary wrote, “I do not remember to have heard that one man so loved another... and our king was incapable of moderate favor." But favoritism has its price. And love would cost both men their lives. Unrelated: Noble Blood merch is here!!!!
29 min
King George Washington I
One of the most enduring stories about the founding of the United States of America is that before George Washington accepted the position as President, he declined the position as King. But "enduring" doesn't necessarily mean true.
34 min
Charles the Beloved, the Mad, the Fool
While feverish and riding on a hot day, King Charles VI had a fit of madness, and murdered one of his own men. For the rest of his reign, he would be plagued by periods of insanity during which he often couldn't remember his own name. And without a clear regent, greedy factions attempting to rule in his place led to chaos for France.
27 min
The Beggar Princess of Bristol
On April 3, 1817, a strange woman in a turban and ruffled black dress appeared in a small village to the north of Bristol. She would claim to be a Princess from a distant island, and for a summer, she would dazzle and charm an entire town of Englishmen and women all too ready to enjoy a spectacle of the "exotic."
26 min
What Crown Prince Wilhelm Left Behind
Georg Friedrich, the great-great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II is embroiled in a legal battle with Germany, attempting to reclaim millions of euros worth of property that was taken from his family during the Soviet occupation of Germany. But the law that allows property reclamation has one major caveat: property is forfeited if your ancestors significantly contributed to the rise of the Nazi party. So exactly how significant was the role of the Kaiser's son, Crown Prince Wilhelm, in the Nazi party? Because the photos don't look great for him...
28 min
The Blood Sacrifice of the Tang Emperor
Yang Guifei is considered one of the four great beauties of China. But her role as imperial consort would have deadly consequences and spell the end of the Tang Dynasty.
27 min
Grand Princess Olga of Kiev Takes Her Revenge
In 945, Olga's husband, Igor I, was murdered by a subjugated tribe. Olga then became the de-facto ruler of Kievan-Rus, and she would let the Drevlians who killed her husband know that mercy was not one of her strong suits.
23 min
How Tycho Brahe Saw the Stars
Tycho Brahe was the heir to several lines of Danish nobility. Rather than spend his life as a bureaucrat, he devoted himself to astronomy and collected the data that would lead to a new era of discovery. He also had no nose, a pet elk, a dwarf, and a mysterious death. Just your typical scientist stuff.
35 min
The Távora Executions
In the words of Omar Little, "When you come at the king, you best not miss." A possible bungled assassination attempt on the King of Portugal in 1758 gave his prime minister the excuse he needed to unleash a bloody reign of terror on the nation's nobles.
23 min
The Red Paint on Leopold II
Leopold II, King of the Belgians, was a man obsessed with the profits that came with colonization. Using smokescreens of charities and shell corporations, he claimed a private landholding 76x larger than his own nation, and unleashed decades of horror on the land's inhabitants.
43 min
Queen Caroline Matilda's Personal Doctor
King George III's "criminal sister" was sent to marry the King of Denmark when she was a teenager. Her husband wanted very little to do with her, and so her attention wandered over to a charismatic doctor. That doctor slowly gathered power until he became all but an autocrat. But power, and love, are both risky gambles.
32 min
In 2001, a woman named Ghislaine de Védrines befriended a charming man named Thierry Tilly. The rest of her close-knit aristocratic family soon became close with him as well. For Noble Blood's one year anniversary, Dana is joined by her research assistant, Hannah Johnston to discuss the mysterious and bizarre brainwashing of the wealthy de Védrines family.
71 min
The Bloody Queen of Madagascar
Stories from history are not kind to Queen Ranavalona of the Kingdom of Imerina. They call her bloodthirsty, mad, a "female Caligula." People were killed under her rule—lots of them, and cruelly. But "madness" doesn't tell the whole story. Ranavalona was a canny political leader, protecting her kingdom from the insurrection of imperialism for her entire 33-year reign... at any cost.
27 min
The Crown Prince and His Lover Dead
The Archduke Rudolf, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, retreated to his hunting lodge in Mayerling with his teenage lover in 1889 to enact a gristly suicide pact in an event both stranger and more tragic than it appears at first blush.
39 min
Katherine Parr was Henry VIII's sixth wife.
33 min
Beheaded II
Catherine Howard was Henry VIII's fifth wife.
32 min