Looking for biographies (and maybe fiction) depicting loyalty to royalty
March 29, 2016 3:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in the historical fact that there were individuals (and families) who were fiercely loyal to a royal family and served them. In terms of suggestions from most to least ideal, I'm interested in (1) biographies that depict this loyalty, (2) fictional depictions of this loyalty, and (3) individuals who this describes. And to be a bit more clear on the situation I'm interested in: (1) the individual served the royal family in some significant capacity and perhaps ideally had a personal relationship with the royal family (they weren't just peasants who admired the royal family from afar), and (2) the individual was ideologically supportive if not passionate about the royal family and the monarch (they weren't just performing their duties to make a living). Thanks!
posted by Dalby to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
There were a great many people who served Napoleon who felt this way about him, before and after his coronation. Roustam, his most faithful servant, slept across his door on campaign, and several other generals and marshals also showed extreme loyalty.

Roustam wrote a book. That may be a good place to start.

Marchand was Napoleon's valet. He also wrote a book.

Sadly, I am unaware of any individual or family that showed this kind of loyalty to Napoleon II or farther down the line.
posted by Colonel Sun at 3:59 PM on March 29, 2016

Are you looking for historical fiction, or is science fiction good, too? I ask because Dune, particularly with regards to the deeply loyal retainers of the Atreides family, depicts this sort of phenomenon.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:00 PM on March 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Queen Victoria and John Brown?
posted by calgirl at 4:13 PM on March 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think Wolf Hall may be disqualified by your point 2.2, but hits all previous points, as historic fiction.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 4:15 PM on March 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

This popped up on the blue recently - Hilary Mantel's review of a biography of Henry VIII's close friend and supporter Charles Brandon.
posted by corvine at 4:24 PM on March 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Anna Vyrubova was a close confidante of the last Tsarina. She wrote several books.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:50 PM on March 29, 2016

Your question brought to my mind The Remains of the Day, a novel told from the perspective of a British butler in the early 20th century who served a lord with questionable political allegiances. It doesn't tick all you boxes (he's serving an aristocrat, not a monarch), but it provides an amazingly sensitive exploration of the psyche of a servant with complete loyalty to his master.
posted by reren at 5:04 PM on March 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

King Lear.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:04 PM on March 29, 2016

Came to recommend Wolf Hall.

Dumas wrote a series of novels starting with Marguerite de Valois that follow retainers to a daughter of Catherine de Medici - fascinating and full of double crosses. He also wrote The Three Musketeers and its sequels of course.
posted by leslies at 5:27 PM on March 29, 2016

Rasputin might meet your criteria:
Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (Russian: Григорий Ефимович Распутин; IPA: [ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲɪj jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ rɐˈsputʲɪn];[1] 21 January [O.S. 9 January] 1869 – 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916[2]) was a Russian peasant, mystical faith healer, and trusted friend of the family of Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia. He became an influential figure in Saint Petersburg, especially after August 1915, when Nicholas took command of the army fighting in World War I.
posted by jamjam at 6:12 PM on March 29, 2016

Sir Francis Walsingham.

This is one of my favorites.
posted by invisible ink at 6:24 PM on March 29, 2016

The Duchess of Duke Street, preferably the book, not the show derived from it.
posted by clew at 6:42 PM on March 29, 2016

Rose Tremaine's historical novels Restoration and its sequel Merivel both investigate this phenomenon in relation to Charles II.

On Queen Victoria and John Brown, the film Mrs. Brown is pretty much entirely inaccurate, although it's what you're looking for (a good biography of Queen Victoria, such as the one by Elizabeth Longford, will be better).

Depending on how far back you want to go, Mary Renault's Alexander trilogy (Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, Funeral Games).

I don't have specific recs, but the families who followed James II into exile after the Glorious Revolution might be interesting cases.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:07 PM on March 29, 2016

Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, is your man. The last full biography was by Hugh Trevor-Roper, so probably a bit dated, but readable.
posted by praemunire at 1:52 AM on March 30, 2016

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham is a fictional account of Charmion, one of Cleopatra servants who fits your description.
posted by soelo at 8:34 AM on March 30, 2016

I was just listening to the second episode of the History of England podcast and he mentioned subject of the king who, when the king was being attacked, threw himself in front of the sword and saved the king's life. He said something about how this kind of intense personal loyalty was a common thread throughout the history of England, and we would be hearing about it again over the course of the podcast. So you might find more examples throughout the (now very long) podcast series.
posted by kristi at 9:42 AM on April 1, 2016

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