In today’s post, I’m showcasing some images from a photo-shoot with a historical theme.
I’ve had a lifelong interest in history. World War 2 has fascinated me since I was a child, but I’m also interested in the Medieval period. So when Tegan and I got together to shoot, we put together a concept based upon several of history’s famous, or rather infamous households.
These images are conceptual by nature and are by no means intended to be historically accurate in any way, shape or form.
Just thought I’d clear that up, straight off the bat!
Beauchamp – Warwick
Guy Beauchamp (c. 1272 – 12 August 1315), pronounced ‘beecham’, was the 10th Earl of Warwick. He was an English magnate, and one of the main opponents of King Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston. Edward and Piers certainly took to one another, though how close their friendship was, is a matter of speculation. After all, Edward went on to have four children with his wife, Isabella. Many at the time thought Edward and Piers were in a sexual relationship.
Gaveston was exiled three times at the hands of the English nobility. He had been a relative upstart in the English aristocracy and made himself unpopular among the established nobility by his arrogance and his undue influence on the king. He gave mocking nicknames to the leading men of the realm, and called Warwick (Beauchamp) the “Black Dog of Arden”.
Sooner or later, something had to give. Gaveston agreed to surrender himself (on the understanding that his safety would be guaranteed), to the Earl of Pembroke at Scarborough Castle.
On 10 June 1312, while Pembroke was away, Beauchamp forcibly carried away Gaveston to Warwick Castle. Here, in the presence of Warwick, Lancaster and other magnates, Gaveston was sentenced to death at an improvised court. On 19 June he was taken to a place called Blacklow Hill—on Lancaster’s lands—and decapitated.
According to the Annales Londonienses chronicle, four shoemakers brought the corpse back to Warwick (Beauchamp), but he refused to accept it, and ordered them to take it back to where they found it. Gaveston’s body was eventually taken to Oxford by some Dominican friars, and in 1315, King Edward finally had it buried at Kings Langley.
The legacy of Piers Gaveston inspired the ‘Piers Gaveston Society’.
An Oxford University dining club founded in 1977, joined by 12 select undergraduates each year.
Their Latin motto “(Sane) non memini ne audisse unum alterum ita dilixisse” which translates roughly as “Truly, none remember hearing of a man enjoying another so much”
They hold a grand party each summer, once described as a ‘very well organised orgy,’ whose decadence has supposedly ranged from mass drug-taking to live sex shows.
So, a fairly colourful historical contribution coming out of Warwick, and Guy Beauchamp was but one of the line of Earls!
Medici – Florence
The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking.
The Medici family’s support of the arts and humanities made Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance.
The Medici produced two queens.
During their time in power, two of the women in the Medici family became a royal by marriage. Catherine de’Medici became the Queen consort to the French king of the time, King Henry II. More than fifty years later, Marie de’Medici became the Queen of France after marrying King Henry IV. In 1616, her son, King Louis VIII, banished her from court for two years.
The Medicis produced four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leo XI), and their genes have been mixed into many of Europe’s royal families. The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries.
Poitiers – Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was one of the most powerful and influential figures of the Middle Ages. Inheriting a vast estate at the age of 15 made her the most sought-after bride of her generation. She would eventually become the queen of France, the queen of England and lead a crusade to the Holy Land. She is also credited with establishing and preserving many of the courtly rituals of chivalry.
She is said to be responsible for the introduction of built-in fireplaces, first used when she renovated the palace of her first husband Louis in Paris. Shocked by the cold northern climate after her upbringing in southern France, Eleanor’s innovation spread quickly, transforming the domestic arrangements of the time.
Eleanor spent her last years as a nun at Fontevraud Abbey in France, and died in her eighties on 31 March 1204.
She outlived all but two of her 11 children: King John of England (1166-1216) and Queen Eleanor of Castile (c. 1161-1214).
Dandolo – Venice
Dandolo was a patrician family of the Republic of Venice, which produced four Doges of Venice. The progenitor of the family was a merchant named Domenico.
Their most famous son, Enrico Dandolo (c. 1107 – May 1205) was the 41st Doge of Venice from 1192 until his death. He is remembered for his avowed piety, longevity, and shrewdness, and is known for his role in the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople.
He was a dynamic leader, reorganising the Venetian currency and beginning the first codification of the republic’s laws.
Dandolo led the Fourth Crusade – an expedition intended to conquer Muslim Egypt – to Constantinople. His armies smashed the heart of the Christian Byzantine Empire.
His force became the first invading army to successfully breach the walls of Constantinople.
What makes all of this even more remarkable, is that Dandolo achieved all of these things when he was in his 90s. And he had been blind for more than two decades!
Venice is close to my heart. My family name ‘Katsaitis’ is the Greek variation of the Venetian name ‘Cazzaiti’.
Our ancestors left Venice in Medieval times, settling first in the modern-day region of Trabzon, before relocating to Kefalonia and Corfu, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.
Hopefully you enjoyed this little sortie into my historical households project? It certainly was fun to shoot.
This set has also recently featured in the ‘Editor’s Choice’ section of Streetfashion Magzzine if you are interested in taking a look.
As always, thanks for reading.
I’m a fine art portrait photographer based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. Specialising in creative and styled portraiture, fitness photography, headshots, family portraits and personal branding for you, for actors, for athletes and for business professionals alike.
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