Appeared in Fall 1994, Vol. XX, No. 3

Of all the rulers of Western European countries in the first quarter of the twentieth century, few are as unknown to British and American historians as Marie Adelaide, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg during World War I. The small size of her realm alone does not explain history’s neglect; by all accounts Marie Adelaide was an extraordinary personality whose short and tragic life was spent amid revolutionary turmoil and the chaos of the Great War. She has been called both a failure and a saint, and there is evidence for both views.

What follows is a brief summary of the career of the Grand Duchess which I hope to develop more fully as documentary sources become available.1 Although short accounts of her reign are given in various general histories of Luxembourg, especially those in French, German, and Luxembourgeois, the only full length biography in any language appears to be Edith O’Shaughnessy’s Marie Adelaide – Grand Duchess of Luxemburg, Duchess of Nassau, published in 1932 and long out of print.

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