The History of the Royal Houses of Europe, 850-PresentA thousand years ago — so the legend goes — God offered the Hapsburgs a choice: “You can have Europe,” he told them, “or you can have chins. But you cannot have both.”
They made their decision, and they were happy with it.
When the time came to design their coat of arms, no one could accuse the Hohenzollerns of not knowing their own minds.
“Two Tom Bombadils, a weird-ass bird, and a bell that turns into a dress.”
The heraldist protested. “My Lords, I–”
“Two Tom Bombadils. A weird-ass bird. A bell that turns into a dress.”
So it remains to this very day.
It took four bishops, six men-at-arms, and a letter from the Pope just to get a hat on Charles V every morning.
This was of course nothing next to King Pharamond, who required constant hat supervision.
After Franz II, the Holy Roman Emperors took a quiet but determined interest in hats and wigs.
Some say World War One was brought on by the tendency of the Electors of Prussia, Brandenburg and Lower Silesia to neglect matters of state in order to meet at their summer estates along the Rhine and grow mustaches at one another.
No one was smaller than Louis I.
“Cheer up,” the Hapsburgs would say to one another in particularly low moments. “At least you’re not a Stuart.”
It could not be argued that the Grand Dukes of Muscovy were the cuddliest-looking of dynasties; every year the Pug Dog Lookalike contest was theirs.
No one ever laughed at the Third Hand of the House of Capet more than once.
“No, nothing on the left knee. I just want the lion heads on the right knee and both shoulders; I don’t want to look weird.”
Underneath their puffy jackets, most of the Kings of Hungary stood about two foot four and weighed between forty-five and forty-seven pounds. When startled or threatened, the average Hungarian royal could puff himself up to as much as three times his normal size.
“Is it like a hat, or a growth, or…” No one could ever bring himself to finish the question in front of Sigismund I.
Of course, servants were much smaller and more affordable then, and often rowed themselves into royal dining-halls on castle boats, offering their tiny services.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.