The History of Hofvonstein

---updated 1/2/02---

Hofvonstein is a tiny kingdom nestled between Austria and Germany along what is now the border of the Czech Republic. Formerly a duchy, it became a kingdom in 1601 when the Emperor awarded the royal title to the Old Duke in reward for his services.



Duke of Hofburg born. He is known to succeeding generations simply as "The Old Duke."


Eric von Stürmburg born.


Ekaterina, wife of the Old Duke, born.


Old Duke and Ekaterina wed.


Francis, eldest son of the Old Duke, born.


Karl Magnus, Count von Ludwidhof, second son of the Old Duke, born.


Johann, Count von Waldstein, third son of the Old Duke, born.


Elisabeth, daughter of the Old Duke, born.


Katherine, wife of Francis I, born.


Ekaterina, wife of the Old Duke, dies in childbirth. The child, stillborn, was actually the child of Eric von Stürmburg.


Elisabeth weds Eric von Stürmburg against her will. Her mother had told her about their liaison.


Leopold, son of Johann von Waldstein, born.

Henrik, son of Elisabeth and Eric von Stürmburg, born.


Nadia von Strazny born.


Maria, first wife of Leopold I von Waldstein, born.


Margaret of York born.


Francis II, son of Francis, born.


Leopold II, son of Leopold I and Maria, born. Maria dies in childbirth.


1601: Dynasty's Dawn


L to R: The von Stürmburgs, Henrik (Mike Funt), Elisabeth (Caroline Carr), and Eric (Dan Coleman); the von Waldsteins, Johann (Scott Stroud) and Leopold (Josh Hill) (kneeling); the von Hofburgs, young Francis II (Grayson Lyles) and Katherine (Julie Price); and behind them, Nadia von Strázny (Angie Copeland) and Karl Magnus von Ludwighof (Dale Lyles).

For those who care about these things: the Old Duke had four children, Francis (deceased), Karl Magnus, Johann, and Elisabeth. When he and his heir Francis were struck by the plague, the resulting battle over the regency of young Francis set off a dynastic struggle that lasted until the Communist takeover in 1923.

The Old Duke and his oldest son Francis die of the smallpox.

In the ensuing power struggle over the regency of young Francis, Johann von Waldstein is killed while dueling with his older brother Karl Magnus von Ludwighof. His death is actually due to the poisoned scratch he received from his son Leopold during the melée.

Francis II, heir to the new throne, disappears, and his mother Catherine is poisoned. Francis hides in the palace and escapes to his lands, where he hides in a monastery.

Eric von Stürmburg is strangled by Elisabeth and Nadia von Strazny.

Leopold claims the throne of Hofvonstein as its first king, bypassing the disgraced Karl Magnus and setting off a 300-year vendetta.

Nadia, a peasant impostor sent by the deceased Nadia's father in order to claim the dowry, marries Leopold rather than Henrik.

hof1601-1.jpg Francis II (Grayson Lyles) and his mother Katherine von Hofburg (Julie Price) introduce themselves to the audience.
Nadia von Strázny explains the Duke of Hofburg's family tree to Jerry Somolik, who arrived at Hofburg Palace saying he planned to sue NCTC over this photo. We thought we was as proud of it as we were. Go figure. hof1601-2.jpg
hof1601-3.jpg The cast leads guests in the pavane.
Johann von Waldstein (Scott Stroud) entices young Francis with visions of glory and fun, fun, fun! hof1601-4.jpg
hof1601-5.jpg Young Francis in a pensive mood.
Nadia von Strázny and Leopold von Waldstein (Josh Hill) look on in shock at something. Probably a body of some kind.
hof1601-7.jpg Whatever Erik von Stürmburg (Dan Coleman) has said, Karl Magnus von Ludwighof (Dale Lyles) is not amused by it.
Elisabeth von Stürmburg (Caroline Carr) explains her monstrous marital situation to the other ladies gathered.
hof1601-9.jpg Katherine listens coldly to Johann's vile propositions.
Karl Magnus finds it difficult to understand Henrik von Stürmburg's (Mike Funt) passion for Katherine. Perhaps he's been reading too much English poetry? Francis lurks in the background.

In the solutions round, Karl Magnus demonstrates one team's supposition that he smothered young Francis. They were wrong.
Nadia and Elisabeth show how they strangled Erik with Nadia's girdle cord, a fact noted by every team, since the ladies did it in full view of the entire company.


Karl Magnus, on a journey through England to get away from the situation in Hofvonstein, meets Margaret of York. They are wed, and when she arrives in Hofvonstein, she immediately sets her plan into action. She finds a peasant boy delirious with fever, takes him from his parents with assurances she will care for him, turns him over to a monastery and tells his parents he's died. She has the boy raised in secret, believing he is Francis II.


Ludwig, son of Karl Magnus and Margaret of York, born.


Wilhelm, second son of Karl Magnus and Margaret of York, born.


Leopold, son of King Leopold, dies. He is six years old.


Francis II, going by the name of Hans, enters Leopold's service as his manservant.

1611: Dynasty's Shadow

hof1611-10.jpg A very fuzzy picture of the cast: Mike Funt as Henrik von Stürmburg; Adrienne Cruce as Elisabeth von Stürmburg; Angie Copeland as Nadia von Strazny; Josh Hill as King Leopold (von Waldstein); Matthew Willingham as Hans; Jennifer Sodko as Margaret of York; Brady Butler as Francis II; and Dale Lyles as Karl Magnus von Ludwighof.

Notice the lack of period costumes: since we had just moved into the Theatre, everything was either boxed up or misplaced. We chose to go with contemporary evening attire.

Leopold holds a midsummer fête. He announces his wife Nadia's pregnancy, to the general consternation of all. She assures Karl Magnus that it is not his. She assures Henrik that it is his, since Leopold has been impotent for six years. No one realizes she has also been having illicit relations with Hans, the king's young manservant.

A young man claiming to be the long-lost Francis II von Hofburg, the heir to the throne, shows up, but Karl Magnus's English wife Margaret confesses to him that she found the peasant child and had him raised to believe he was Francis.

The impostor Francis is poisoned by Hans.

Leopold is shot through the head with an arrow by Henrik, who finally has his revenge for the death of his beloved Katherine.

Karl Magnus proclaims himself king, but when Hans asks him for employment, he turns the boy away. Hans mutters a particular phrase, and in a flash Karl Magnus recognizes the servant to be the actual Francis II, who had concealed himself after his mother's death and fled to safety. Karl Magnus stabs the prince, and once again ruins his reputation: Nadia's unborn child is proclaimed heir to the throne.

The overwhelming irony here is that Nadia's child is not Henrik's; it is Hans/Francis's child, and thus is the actual heir to the throne of Hofvonstein. The next 300 years of struggle over the crown are absolutely pointless.


Guests disperse after dancing the opening pavane with the cast.
Margaret of York chats amiably with guests about her scheme to pass off the peasant impostor as the long lost Francis von Hofburg.
hof1611-03.jpg Elisabeth von Stürmburg is not at all pleased with whatever it is her son Henrik has told her.
Karl Magnus attempts to explain the family tree to newcomers to Hofvonstein.
hof1611-05.jpg Grayson Lyles, the Francis II of Dynasty's Dawn: Hofvonstein 1601, takes a break at the bar.
The cast scores solutions: Jennifer Sodko, Matthew Willingham, Dale Lyles, and Mike Funt.
hof1611-07.jpg A perfectly lurid (and incorrect solution) involving some kind of illicit relationship between Karl Magnus and Hans.
Elisabeth is accused of putting an arrow through Leopold's head. Wrong.

Margaret is accused of putting an arrow through Leopold's... well, that was wrong as well.


Leopold II born.


Adette von Strazny born in Bohemia.

Liserl von Strazny born.


Henrik von Stürmburg marries Gertrune.


Elisabeth von Stürmburg dies.

Philip, son of Henrik and Gertrune von Stürmburg, born.


Maria von Stürmburg born.


Leopold II and Liserl von Strazny married.


Wilhelm von Ludwighof is made archbishop of Hofburg and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

Anne, daughter of Leopold II and Liserl, is born.


Carl I, son of Leopold II and Liserl, is born.

Karl Magnus von Ludwighof dies.


Adette arrives in Hofvonstein from Bohemia. Cardinal Wilhelm von Ludwighof is taken with her, and takes her.

1632: Faith of Our Fathers

hof1632-01.jpg Here they all are, the entire gang (L to R): Ludwig von Ludwighof (Wesley Whisenhunt), Margaret of York (Slynn McMinn), Cardinal Wilhelm von Ludwighof (Daniel Byrd), Adette von Strazny (Kelly Crosby), Nadia von Strazny (Angie Copeland), King Leopold II (Stan Gentry), Gertrune von Stürmburg (Jenifer Doran), and Henrik von Stürmburg (Dale Lyles).

Religious wars rage across the continent, and Cardinal Wilhelm von Ludwighof is convinced that Leopold II is a Protestant heretic. How convenient.

Wilhelm calls the nobility together for Conclave, at which they will decide on the evidence and whether to keep the Waldstein on the throne, or to replace him with Ludwig, the Ludwighof heir. Unfortunately, other issues surface as well.

Margaret of York poisons wine by allowing her poisoned necklace to dip into it when she curtsies to Nadia von Strazny, then switches glasses with the Queen Mother. Nadia dies cursing her rival.

Henrik von Stürmburg, overwhelmed by his sins of the past, confesses all to Wilhelm, who tells him he must give all his possesions and lands to the Church. How convenient. His wife, Gertrune, is not buying it, though, and she slits his throat while he is at prayer in the chancel.

The Cardinal's mistress, Adette von Strazny, is pregnant. She has set her sights on young Ludwig, since with Nadia gone the young and foolish Leopold has no strong supporters, and it looks as if the Ludwighofs may get the throne after all. However, Ludwig is a strait-laced (and secret) Lutheran, so she needs to get rid of the evidence. Gertrune offers her ergot-contaminated rye to munch on, but the abortifacient also produces hallucinations, and Margaret, who despises the Bohemian slut, accuses her of being a witch. Leopold, who has little or no restraint, drags her into the chapel and runs her through before the altar.

hof1632-03.jpg Cardinal Wilhelm hears his elder cousin Henrik's confession, which includes such bombshells as his murder of Leopold I and his adulterous affair with Nadia. The Cardinal's absolution? Henrik gives up all his worldly goods and lands to the church and takes holy orders.
King Leopold II, the spoiled and petulant heir to the Waldstein throne. A worse monarch could perhaps not be imagined, if there were not still 300 years of Hofvonstein history to get through.
hof1632-05.jpg Margaret of York has it out with Leopold over his excessive taxation of her textile efforts in the southern (Ludwighof) territories.
Margaret counsels her quiet elder son Ludwig on how best to dethrone Leopold and take the crown himself.
hof1632-07.jpg Hofvonstein's fun couple, the lovely Bohemian Adette von Strazny and her lover, Cardinal Wilhelm von Ludwighof.
Nadia goads the hapless Henrik over his inability to accomplish anything meaningful with his life.
hof1632-09.jpg Adette attempts her wiles on audience member Charlie Wooters.
Leopold refuses to listen to Henrik's advice to offer public proof of his adherence to the true faith. He is even less amused to find that he is Henrik's bastard son with Nadia.
hof1632-11.jpg Margaret and son Wilhelm discuss strategy.
Wilhelm dismisses Gertrune with a blessing.
hof1632-13.jpg Margaret and Gertrune cut a deal over Henrik's inheritance.
Nadia perishes. If you were watching carefully, you saw Margaret curtsy deeply to the Queen Mother, dipping her poisoned necklace into a glass of wine, which she then switched with Nadia's.
hof1632-15.jpg Poor Henrik has his throat slit in the chancel by his own wife Gertrune, who was desperate that he die before his will became legal.
Leopold and audience members search the chancel for evidence.
hof1632-17.jpg The saintly archbishop of Hofburg, Cardinal Wilhelm. Notice his admiring mother behind him.
The secret passage from the chancel down into the chapel. You can imagine the horror and dread felt by the audience as they realized they probably had to go down this thing to find evidence. You cannot imagine the horror and dread felt by the cast when they arrived for Saturday's performance to find that the original staircase (part of the set for Little Hotel on the Side) had been struck by the director of Christmas Carol, who had not been warned that they were still using it.
hof1632-19.jpg Adette gets the itchies as the ergot-induced hallucinations kick in. Pregnant with Wilhelm's child, and aiming to marry the secretly Protestant Ludwig (assuming he was about to assume the throne), she obtained the abortifacient from Gertrune.
Alas for Adette, Margaret took that opportunity to accuse her of being a witch, and mad, impetuous Leopold slew the wretched girl.
hof1632-21.jpg The wretched girl, slain.
Grayson Lyles, court photographer, beside a wine spill. He thought this was clever.


Gertrune von Stürmburg dies. Philip leaves the University in Prague and returns home to manage the family estates. He and Leopold are wary of each other at first, but soon find a mutual attraction developing. Philip marries his cousin, Maria von Stürmburg.


Margaret of York dies. To Wilhelm's fury, Philip seems to have gained the ascendancy. Wilhelm is delighted, therefore, when he discovers through his spies that Philip has never consummated his marriage with Maria. Wilhelm and Maria begin an affair.


Friedrich, son of Philip and Maria von Stürmburg, is born. He is actually the bastard child of Wilhelm von Ludwighof.

1641: Sins of the Fathers

At Carl's 13th birthday celebration, he pushes to be named Crown Prince, but Leopold II (influenced by Philip von Stürmburg) adamantly refuses.

Liserl von Strazny discovers evidence that her daughter Anne has been sleeping with Ludwig von Ludwighof, not only 24 years her senior but the family's archenemy. Ludwig, recognizing Anne's spirit and brains, proposes marriage to her. She accepts. However, Liserl plans for her to marry the Elector of Brandenburg.

Philip plots to annul his marriage to Maria so that he can marry Anne, solidifying his influence over his lover Leopold.

Carl discovers a torrid letter from his father to Philip and casually blackmails his father into strangling his lover in Philip's study. Carl then poisons his father at dinner.

Wilhelm is appalled to find that Ludwig has moved ahead on his own without consulting him, and works to quell Ludwig's newfound sense of independence, to no avail.

To prevent her mother from announcing her engagement to the Elector of Brandenburg, Anne drowns Liserl.

Despite Ludwig and Wilhelm's best efforts to garner support in Conclave for Ludwig's right to the throne, the nobles of Hofvonstein elect Carl the next king.

hof1641-01.jpg King Leopold II (Stan Gentry) and his queen, Liserl von Strazny (Kelly Whisenhunt) chat with members of the Hofvonsteinian nobility before the festivities begin.
Maria von Stürmburg (Kelli Pyeatt), Ludwig von Ludwighof (Dale Lyles) and Cardinal Wilhelm von Ludwighof (Daniel Byrd) chat. Maria and the Cardinal are boyfriend and girlfriend.
hof1641-03.jpg Princess Anne (Rachel Garrett) leads a tour of Hofburg Palace.
Philip von Stürmburg (Scott Stroud) and Anne chat with various nobles. Philip decided to ditch his wife Maria and marry the princess, further cementing his influence over the king.
hof1641-05.jpg Leopold greets members of the nobility.
Maria chatting with guests.
hof1641-08.jpg The cast introduces themselves: Cardinal Wilhelm von Ludwighof (Daniel Byrd), Count Ludwig von Ludwighof (Dale Lyles), Maria von Stürmburg (Kelli Pyeatt), Philip von Stürmburg (Scott Stroud), Princess Anne von Waldstein (Rachel Garrett), Prince Carl von Waldstein (Grayson Lyles), and Queen Liserl von Strazny (Kelly Whisenhunt). Just out of sight on the right is King Leopold II.
Hofvonsteinian nobility gathered on the Grand Staircase for introductions and rules.
hof1641-09.jpg As the action begins, Ludwig informs Anne that her mother has found her love letter to him. He proposes marriage, sure to be a shocker to her parents: he's 20 years older than she is, and still insists he's the rightful heir to the throne.
Philip and the Cardinal confer on the Grand Staircase. Philip is asking for an annulment of his marriage to Maria, which shouldn't be a problem since he's never sletp with her. The photo is dim, but then Philip always did most of his best work in the dark.
hof1641-11.jpg A darkling photo of the late (but hardly lamented) Leopold II. Philip had already been strangled before dinner: young Prince Carl, with incontrovertible evidence that his father and Philip were lovers, forced Leopold to strangle his lover. Then Carl poisoned his father's meal.
Wilhelm is appalled to find that his formerly timid brother Ludwig is intent on going through with his marriage to Anne. Wilhelm is losing influence fast.
hof1641-13.jpg Carl (Grayson Lyles), now king presumptive, canvasses members of the nobility for their support in Conclave.
Liserl and Wilhelm plot to block Anne's marriage to Ludwig, but to no avail: Anne drowns Liserl in the lovely decorative hot tub before she can announce Anne's engagement to the Elector of Brandenburg.
hof1641-15.jpg Despite the best efforts of the Ludwighofs, the despicable little rodent Carl von Waldstein is confirmed King by the nobles of Hofvonstein in Conclave.


Anne and Carl are older, wiser, and deadlier than ever.



Still to come...



Georg II dies. Maximilian II ascends the throne.


Queen Mother Therese dies.
It is the 300th birthday of the Old Duke.


Leopold III born.


Sophia born.


Frederick von Stürmburg born.


Friedrich Meier born.


Karl Magnus von Ludwighof born.


Annaliese Meier born.


Catherine [von Stürmburg] born.


Leopold and Sophia are engaged.


Leopold and Sophia are married.


Poetess Emma born.


Franz (Leopold's manservant) born.


Maximilian born. Viktor and Ernst Braun born. Karl Magnus enters University, meets Friedrich Meier, and through him, eventually, Annaliese Meier. Karl Magnus and Friedrich join the revolutionary movement after reading Marx.


Anna Meier born. Annaliese Meier enters the Conservatory to begin voice training.


Karl Magnus finishes studies at University.


Karl Magnus enters the government service of Maximilian II. Annaliese Meier debuts at the Hofvonsteiner Opera. She and Karl Magnus become lovers. Archduke Carl Philip is born.


Elizaveta Vyshinskaya born.


Karl Magnus begins plotting with revolutionary group, including Friedrich Meier, to assassinate Maximilian II.


Sir Anthony Chetwood born.


August: Maximilian II assassinated. Leopold's wife Sophia dies in the attack. October: Friedrich Meier executed by direct order of Karl Magnus. Annaliese Meier dumps Karl Magnus, moves to Vienna.


Annaliese Meier marries Rudolf Frankl, director of Vienna StaatsOper.


Sophie von Stürmburg born. She is named for Princess Sophia, who would have been her godmother had she lived.


Karl Magnus is appointed prime minister by Leopold III.


Maximilian is installed as Crown Prince.


Crown Prince Maximilian and Viktor Braun enter University. Ernst goes to Paris to study art. Emma begins to haunt the cafés of Hofvonstein.


Maximilian and Viktor continue to discuss revolutionary politics, but Maximilian refuses to see the validity of Viktor's ideas. Maximilian, still affected by his grandfather's assassination, becomes more and more conservative. Leopold III and Annaliese Frankl become lovers. Leopold meets Viktor through Maximilian and begins to consider liberal reforms.


Anna Meier enters University, meets Viktor, becomes his mistress. She also meets Maximilian at this time.


Vasily Korzhenko born.


Ursula Stegers [Greta] born.


Anna Meier leaves Viktor, becomes Maximilian's mistress. It is actually a political move, intended to keep tabs on and encourage Maximilian's growing reactionary tendencies. Emma publishes her first volume of poetry under her new name. It is a critical success, outraging the intelligentsia and amusing Leopold.


Gustav von Heindal born.


Sophie von Stürmburg meets Anthony Chetwood at the British Embassy Ball. They fall in love and it is understood that they are to be engaged.


Frederick and Katherine Stürmburg die in Paris. Karl Magnus is in Paris, takes charge of the von Stürmburg's affairs. He rapes Sophie. She becomes his secret mistress and returns with him to Hofvonstein. She continues to correspond with Anthony. Leopold III announces a schedule of liberal reforms, beginning a rift between him and Maximilian.


Count Karl Magnus establishes contact with radical Communist group, Viktor Braun and Anna Meier. Maximilian and Sophie are engaged. She writes to Anthony, breaking off their relationship. Emma becomes a regular at palace soirées.

1899: Murder at Midnight

Madalena Kruger born in Vienna to Anna Meier. Anna's aunt, Annaliese Frankl, has the baby given to one of the workers at the Opera. While recovering, Anna discovers evidence in her aunt's belongings that Karl Magnus was implicated in Maximilian II's assassination and was directly responsible for her father's death.

New Year's Eve, Vienna: Anna Meier shoots Leopold III while Viktor Braun wrestles Crown Prince Maximilian to the ground, planting a gun in his hand. Karl Magnus shoots Maximilian, implicating Viktor. Anna Meier strangles Leopold's manservant Franz, who had been paid to lie about whom he had seen fire the shot at Leopold. Finally, Anna Meier convinces Viktor, under arrest, to drink poisoned wine in an apparent suicide pact; however, she has not poisoned her own drink.



Karl Magnus von Ludwighof assumes power in Hofvonstein as Prime Minister. He marries Sophie von Stürmburg while continuing an affair with Anna Meier.

Annaliese Frankl returns to Vienna, avoiding Hofvonstein. Emma emigrates to Paris.

Politically, there are no immediate heirs to the throne. Karl Magnus holds to Leopold's promised reforms, but manipulates the elections so that he, as Prime Minister, is virtual dictator. He holds power for the next 23 years.


Edward von Ludwighof is born. Princess Alexandra Mikhailovna Romanov is born.

It is the 300th anniversary of the founding of Hofvonstein as a kingdom, but Karl Magnus is unable to grab the throne that eluded his namesake ancestor. Part of the problem is that tradition dictates that the heir be a direct descendant of the Waldstein line of the family, and some of the older aristocracy refuse to budge on that.

After it becomes obvious that the Communists will be shut out of power, and that Karl Magnus means to have her arrested, Anna Meier flees to Paris, seeks out Ernst Braun. They become lovers rather precipitously.


Paul Meier born, son of Anna Meier.


Ilse Henning, daughter of Johann Henning, born.


Sir Anthony Chetwood, Bart., is appointed Ambassador to France on the death of his father.

Vasily Korzhenko joins the Russian Revolutionary Party after witnessing the Bloody Sunday massacre in the Palace Square.

Elizaveta Vyshinskaya joins the Romanov family as nurse to Alexandra.


In accordance with his family's Prussian background, Gustav von Heindal is sent to Berlin to attend the Military College there.


Annaliese Frankl retires from the Vienna Opera.

Gustav von Heindal graduates from the Military College in Berlin.

1914: Thunder at Twilight

At Sophie von Stürmburg's 33rd birthday ball, her cousin the Archduke Carl Philip is in line for the throne of Hofvonstein, claiming descent through the younger brother of Maximilian II. The Pan-European Conference in Vienna is about to decide the issue.

Sophie grows increasingly unstable. She is superstitious that, since Queen Sophia died at 33, so will she. Karl Magnus keeps tabs on her through her maid Greta, who is actually a German spy.

Anna Meier and Annaliese Frankl have returned to seek revenge against Karl Magnus, bringing with them Ernst Braun, Viktor's twin brother.

Also crashing the party is Sir Anthony Chetwood, British ambassador to France and delegate to the Conference. He has come to rekindle the true love that existed between him Sophie back in Paris.

Carl Philip, enraged by a telegram from his agent that says the Emperor is dumping him in favor of Karl Magnus because of his shady investment schemes, attacks Karl Magnus, who shoots him. However, the telegram is a fake, engineered by Karl Magnus and Greta.

Greta stabs Sir Anthony with Carl Philip's sword-cane after he recognizes her as Ursula Stegers.

Ernst confronts Karl Magnus and attempts to shoot him, but after KM shows him a letter from Anna confessing to Viktor's death, he loses his nerve and the plot falls apart.

Finally, Karl Magnus strangles Sophie after she, over the edge, tells him that she is leaving him. Anna witnesses Sophie's final moments. A telegram arrives, announcing that the Conference has elevated Karl Magnus to the throne of Hofvonstein.

hof1914-0.gif In the study, Count Karl Magnus [Dale Lyles] tries to remember where he's met Sir Anthony Chetwood [Brady Butler].
In the ballroom, Communist Anna Meier [Mary Dacumos] struggles to get the Party's funds back from a bad investment with the Archduke Carl Philip von Waldersee [Tony Daniel.]
hof1914-2.gif In the gallery, Countess Sophie von Stürmburg [Summer Miller] and Sir Anthony meet for the first time since Paris, while Karl Magnus looks on, observing their reaction.
Archduke Carl Philip lies dead in the ballroom after he attacked Karl Magnus with his cane and was shot for his presumption.
hof1914-4.jpeg Karl Magnus sits in a pensive mood in the drawing room as he is quizzed by a guest.
It's Ernst Braun [Jeff Bishop] in the drawing room with a gun. Still, as it turned out, he was unable to go ahead with the plot to shoot Karl Magnus.
hof1914-8.jpeg Countess Sophie von Stürmburg lies dead in Karl Magnus's study, just before he receives word that he has gained the throne.

Edward, 13, has his first sexual encounter when Greta fondles him in his bed.


Karl Magnus is crowned King of Hofvonstein, succeeding Leopold III after an interregnum of 16 years. He abolishes the position of Prime Minister, essentially retaining administrative control over the kingdom.

Edward loses his virginity and embarks on a life of debauchery.

Gustav von Heindal successfully defends Hofvonstein's northern approach, a single bridge across the Moldau, from an attack by Russian troops.


Karl Magnus pulls Hofvonstein out of the war, a bold diplomatic move.

Baron Gustav von Heindal, a war hero, attract's Karl Magnus's attention with his sober organizational skills. He begins a career in government.


Alexandra Romanov and her family flee to Hofvonstein just before the Bolsheviks topple the Russian Empire. Elizaveta Vyshinskaya, betrayed by the Romanovs, joins the Bolsheviks and conceals her identity.

Edward von Ludwighof is installed as Crown Prince, despite the dreadful sufferings of the country as the war sweeps over their turf.

Madalena Kruger is attracted to the Communist Party in Vienna.


The Great War is over; Hofvonstein is mostly devastated, due to its central location between Austria, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. Karl Magnus begins a rebuilding and modernization program, mostly with loans from British and French banks.

Anna Meier returns to Hofvonstein, begins her political career anew, bolstered by the success of the Bolsheviks in Russia.


Annaliese Frankl dies in the worldwide flu epidemic. She leaves a letter for Karl Magnus, to be delivered by Madalena four years after her death.

Madalena travels to Hofvonstein and joins up with the Communist party there.

Crown Prince Edward begins University and becomes an engineer.


Karl Magnus conceives the idea of the 400th anniversary celebration of the Old Duke's birthday, begins modernization in earnest.

Edward, still in University, attracts the attention of corrupt contractors and begins taking kickbacks.


Madalena Kruger and Paul Meier become lovers. It is his first experience; it is not hers.

Vasily Korzhenko discovers the cache of Romanov jewels at their summer estate during the Civil War and realizes their import and their worth.


Ilse Henning and Crown Prince Edward meet through her father. He quickly seduces her.

1923: The Turning of the Tide

It's February 12, the 400th birthday of the Old Duke. Great celebrations are in order.

Anna Meier has made gains in the Parliament and has introduced legislation to reinstate the position of Prime Minster, abolished by Karl Magnus when he became king.

Edward and Alexandra are engaged in an arrangement satisfactory to all parties. Edward has convinced Ernst Braun to paint him in the nude, leading to the seduction of Ernst. Ernst in turn seduces Alexandra.

Madalena discovers that she is Anna's daugher, but refuses to halt her relationship with Paul.

Karl Magnus dies of old age. Ilse is shot under the table by Anna, who was trying to kill Madalena. Ernst is beaten to death by Anna when he threatens to tell Paul that Karl Magnus was his [Paul's] father.

When the new Karl Magnus Bridge collapses during its dedication, Edward's complicity in the shabby construction is evident, and Paul forces him to abdicate. However, much to Anna's dismay, Edward convinces Paul to guarantee him the post of Prime Minister in the new Communist regime.

Later in the year, Edward and Alexandra are married.


Alexandra abandons Edward for Paris, refusing to live under a Communist government. Edward visits her periodically.

Gustav von Heindal retires from government for the same reasons. He begins to manage the textile mills in his family's former lands.


Anna Meier wrests the prime ministership away from Edward.


Edward bribes enough members of Parliament to retake the prime ministership. He appoints Baron Gustav von Heindal to the ministry for manufactures.

Alexandra immediately forms a secret pact with von Heindal.


On a trade mission to Berlin, Edward and von Heindal set Paul up for a seduction by Edward. Back home, Edward and Madalena have a one-night stand, mostly on the grounds of being able to say they have had the other one.

1932: Nightmare at Dawn

Despite Anna Meier's refusal to become a satellite of the USSR and Stalin, the People's Republic of Hofvonstein is undergoing a Great Purge of its own. Anna is locked in a deadly election with Edward. Alexandra returns to seal a deal with Gustav von Heindal to sell the entire textiles production of Hofvonstein beneath cost to France, a deal guarantee to sink the economy of the nation and return it to the monarchy.

Anna takes poison in an attempt to frame Madalena for her death. Elizaveta Vyshinskaya kills Vasily in order to protect her past. Paul shoots von Heindal as a traitor to the Cause.