Philip Mansel

Frederick strolls with Voltaire through the palace of Sans-Souci

Atheist and gay, Frederick the Great was more radical than most leaders today

Reacquaintance with Germany is long overdue for most English people. Before 1914 it was at least as familiar as France…

He who must be obeyed: portrait of the Kaiser by Ferdinand Keller, 1893

Kaiser Wilhelm's guide to ruining a country

The life of Kaiser Wilhelm II is also a guide to how to ruin a country, says Philip Mansel

The vieux port of Marseille

Sublime port

Ports can challenge national stereotypes: think of the difference between St Petersburg and Russia, or Naples and Italy. Since England…

The scholar gypsy: Patrick Leigh Fermor in Ithaca, photographed by his wife, Joan

Love letters to foreign lands

The writer Patrick Leigh Fermor was not only brave, charming and cultivated. He had a knack of getting under the skin, says Philip Mansel

Charming, cold-eyed cosmopolitan

At last a diary as penetrating on Berlin as the Goncourt brothers’ on Paris has been translated into English. The…


Gunboat diplomacy

Philip Mansel on the brief period in British history when Mare Nostrum became our sea


The battle for the holy city

In a tour de force of 500 pages of text Simon Sebag Montefiore, historian of Stalin and Potemkin, turns to a totally different subject: the city of Jerusalem.


Under Eastern eyes

The Ottoman Empire inspired great travel books as well as great architects. Travellers like George Sandys, Richard Pococke or the Chevalier d’Arvieux in the 17th and 18th centuries were curious, erudite and less arrogant than their 19th-century successors.

Through Levantine eyes

Philip Mansel reviews a pair of books on Turkey

The king of peace

Philip Mansel reviews Lion of Jordan:  The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace by Avi Shlaim

The Viennese charades

Europe had a party during the Congress of Vienna in the last months of 1814. Monarchs, ministers, ambassadors and their…

The Prince and the F

Anyone interested in the history of Germany, of nationalism or of dynasties will be gripped by this book. Born at…

Power behind the scenes

Parliament has so dominated the writing of English political history that the royal household has been sidelined. Moreover, the absence…

Overbearing and undermining

A hundred and twenty years ago, the global hyper-power invaded a strategic Middle Eastern country. It talked of self-government but…

Courtiers and communists

Courts can be a tool for understanding the present as well as the past. The behaviour patterns of courts and…

Who wore the royal trousers?

Revolutions no longer seem so inevitable, nor the overthrown governments so hopeless, since the failure of the greatest of all…