Izabela the Valiant

Izabela the Valiant: The Story of an Indomitable Polish Princess

History & Politics, European History
Hardback Published on: 20/06/2024
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Synopsis

Trawling through a vast family archive and arcane sources in half a dozen languages, Adam Zamoyski has revealed the dramatic life of his great-great-great grandmother, an uneducated, vulnerable girl cast into a man’s world.

Her aristocratic position enmeshed her in high politics and close encounters with Frederick the Great, Benjamin Franklin, Rousseau, Joseph II, Marie-Antoinette and Tsar Alexander I, and earned her the enmity of Catherine the Great. She lived through revolution and no less than five wars, in which her cherished homes were devastated, her possessions looted and her children scattered. Caught up in tempestuous love affairs which led her to nervous breakdown and the brink of suicide, exploited by her lovers, she remained undaunted and liberated herself through education. And, unusually for her time, she became a caring mother devoted to her children.

She learned much by travelling extensively around Europe at a time of political and ideological change, and her observations, particularly on Georgian Britain, are remarkable. She gradually won the admiration of learned men and intellectual honours. She pioneered schooling for children of the poor and developed her own educational methods. Fascinated by the power of objects to kindle memories and arouse emotions, she was an avid collector of anything with a sensuous association and built two unique museums to act as teaching aids.

This is a story of triumph over adversity and betrayal. It was not achieved by her looks: ‘I have never been beautiful, but I have sometimes been pretty,’ she wrote. It was achieved by force of character and resilience.

  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • ISBN: 9780008521684
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Weight: 520g
  • Dimensions: 240 x 159 x 30 mm

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