Painted Veil is an introduction to princesses, duchesses, empresses, queens and other great ladies of history who seemed to have lived charmed lives but the reality was often vastly different. Women of noble families were regarded as little more than chattel to their families and were often married to form powerful alliances with little regard for their personal happiness.
The information given is not intended to be comprehensive, so if you are interested in a particular lady or era, I’d recommend more research on the internet or in your local library. The ladies are also presented with their titles or rankings before marriage, unless they are renowned by another name, and are cross-referenced via their respective noble houses of birth and then marriage.
I’ve also added a mix of fiction and non-fiction books to the profiles where possible, although I’ve tried to stick to more recent publications as they are likely to have the most up-to-date research. Since some figures, like Queen Victoria, appear in a large number of historical books, I’ve opted to show those of a more autobiographical nature as I’m more interested in who they were as people.
The name of this site comes from a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley called Lift Not The Painted Veil which warns us not to look beyond the illusion of life we have created for ourselves as we will be disappointed by what we find. I thought it was appropriate for these ladies since many of them led vastly different lives than you would imagine.
Please note this site is concentrating on European royal families for the time being, although I may expand at some point.