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.

History
Society & Culture
1
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
2
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
3
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
4
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
5
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: https://www.patreon.com/noblebloodtales. Noble Blood merch is available here: https://store.dftba.com/collections/noble-blood]
30 min
6
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: https://www.patreon.com/noblebloodtales. Noble Blood merch is available here: https://store.dftba.com/collections/noble-blood]
28 min
7
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: https://www.patreon.com/noblebloodtales. Noble Blood merch is available here: https://store.dftba.com/collections/noble-blood]
28 min
8
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: https://www.patreon.com/noblebloodtales. Noble Blood merch is available here: https://store.dftba.com/collections/noble-blood]
26 min
9
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! https://store.dftba.com/collections/noble-blood)
24 min
10
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!!!! https://store.dftba.com/collections/noble-blood
29 min
11
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
12
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
13
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
14
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
15
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
16
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
17
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
18
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
19
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
20
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
21
ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: The Tilly Cult
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
22
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
23
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
24
Survived
Katherine Parr was Henry VIII's sixth wife.
33 min
25
Beheaded II
Catherine Howard was Henry VIII's fifth wife.
32 min
26
Divorced II
Anne of Cleves was Henry VIII's fourth wife.
31 min
27
Died
Jane Seymour was Henry VIII's third wife.
25 min
28
Beheaded
Anne of Boleyn was Henry VIII's second wife.
28 min
29
Divorced
Catherine of Aragon was Henry VIII's first wife.
25 min
30
The Witch-Hunter King
During a post-wedding detour in Denmark, James VI of Scotland learned of the evils of witches, and he brought his anti-witch fervor with him when he returned to Scotland.
22 min
31
The Ghosts that Haunted the Female Emperor
In 7th-century China, Wu Zetian went from low-tiered concubine to Empress and then, finally, to Emperor in her own right. Her legacy is murky and strange, and her rise to power is trickled with blood.
21 min
32
Catherine the Great and her Husband the Mediocre
Catherine the Great, Russia's most famous Empress, wasn't born in Russia—she was a minor German princess engaged to the future Emperor. But less than a year after her husband ascended to the Russian throne, Catherine overthrew him in a coup with the help of her lover in one of the most extraordinary political maneuvers in history.
26 min
33
Today We Leave for Mexico
She was born Charlotte of Belgium, before fate re-named her Carlota of Mexico. She and her husband were high-minded, idealistic imperialists, ready to forge their destiny on a new continent. But they were woefully unprepared for the reality that awaited them outside their palace walls.
20 min
34
The Swan King Went Mad
Only days after he was deposed, King Ludwig II of Bavaria died in an apparent suicide. But was it murder? Or was it just the final act of a king who had gone mad with love and with passion, born into the wrong century?
24 min
35
The Neck and the Necklace
"The Queen's death must be dated from the Diamond Necklace Trial." The nation turned against Queen Marie Antoinette when she became an unwitting pawn in the most ambitious catfish in history.
25 min
36
The Ice Queen
Bitterly lonely and abandoned by her family, Anna Ivanovna grew to hate love. And when she became the unlikely Empress of Russia she used her power to build an ice palace that was both a spectacle and a torture chamber.
22 min
37
The Wedding Ended in Blood
The wedding between Margot of Valois and Henry of Navarre was meant to end religious fighting in France. It didn't.
24 min
38
Let Him Be Hanged There for a Lamb
Lord Byron has become synonymous with the romantic, creative hero. But it may have been Lady Caroline Lamb, his most famous lover, who truly embodied the spirit of the age. Their romance led to blood, tears, fire, and pubic hair. Poets, am I right?
34 min
39
The Marquise and Her Poisons
The Marquise de Brinvilliers is a subject of operas and stories, a larger-than-life villainess who murdered her family with poison and almost got away with it. Almost.
31 min
40
The Butler, in the Bedroom, with a Sabre
In the middle of the night on an otherwise quiet spring evening, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, was attacked in his bedchamber by an assailant wielding a sword.
26 min
41
The Maybe Queen Arbella
Arbella Stuart was a pawn her entire life—a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth I and a valuable marriage prospect to be dangled before foreign princes.
19 min
42
What Eye Has Wept for George IV?
When King George IV died, his obituary in The Times read: “There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow-creatures than this deceased king." But even George IV once fell in love.
23 min
43
Until We Meet Again
The same day Queen Liliuokalani proposed a new constitution for Hawaii that would restore power to the monarchy and grant native Hawaiians the right to vote in elections, a group of white businessmen met at a law office in Honolulu, and hatched a plan that would change the course of nations.
22 min
44
Ever Dearest Cousin Nicky
King George V and Tsar Nicholas II were first cousins who looked so much alike that people often jokingly called them twins.
24 min
45
The Butcher Baronet
An Australian man comes to England claiming to be a long-lost heir thought dead in a shipwreck.
27 min
46
The Desperate Young King Charles II
By the time he was 17, Charles II was a prince in exile. But Charles was willing to sacrifice whatever (and whoever) it took to win his crown back.
30 min
47
The Second Death of Marie Antoinette
A woman who became synonymous with indulgence spent her final months with almost no personal possessions, separated from her children, awaiting her imminent death.
23 min
48
Noble Blood - Official Trailer
Noble Blood - a new history podcast from executive producer Aaron Mahnke and iHeart Podcasts.
1 min