Great Houses of Europe

Great Houses of Europe

Great Houses of Europe

Great Houses of Europe

Excerpt

'The nobility, this exclusive and exacting class', so runs the opening phrase of a recent book on castles and mansions published in one of the lands behind the Iron Curtain, and it then goes on to illustrate and describe more than eighty houses in the thirteen provinces of the country in question which was part of the former Hapsburg Empire. It is a grudging tribute, as would be that of critics of a like mind, haters of both Church and State in the old meaning of those terms, who must yet acknowledge Chartres and Versailles as the most splendid and enduring monuments of France.

But it be wrong to allow credit, or lay blame, according to point of view, only upon the class of persons indicated in such deprecating words. For, over and over again, their ranks were swelled and their blood renewed and vitalized by families of middle class or much humbler origin. Rather it could be said that the Great Houses represent the aspirations, if not the achievement, of all classes of the community. As such, they are the fine flower of western civilization, and of more tangible reward than our churches with their constant reminder of the tomb.

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