Spanish history:

Philip I the Handsome, King of Castile (1478-1506)

Philip of Austria was one of the most coveted European princes. Son of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, born in Bruges in 1478. Before the age of three, Philip was admitted as a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Unfortunately his mother, who was apparently fond of stag hunting with a crossbow, died when he was only four in a riding accident.Philip and his sister Margaret were in the care of their step-grandmother Margaret of York. At his mother’s death, he succeeded to her Netherlands dominions, with Maximilian acting as regent for him during his minority. In 1494, Maximilian relinquished his regency under the terms of the Treaty of Senlis and Philip, aged 16, took over the rule of the Burgundian lands himself, although in practice authority was derived from a council of Burgundian notables.

The young Philip was agile, strong, athlete, elegant, handsome, gallant, vain and well educated. He had the titles of Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Limburg and Luxembourg, Count of Flanders, Habsburg, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Tirol and Artois, and Lord of Antwerp and Mechelen, among other cities. In 1496, he married Infanta Joanna, daughter of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile. His wife later inherited the crown of Castile and Aragon after the death of her two older siblings and her nephew. In 1502, Philip, Joanna and a large part of the Burgundian court travelled to Spain. The young royal couple received the homage of the Cortes. Philip and the majority of the court returned to the Low Countries in the following year, leaving a pregnant Joanna in Spain.

Philip’s life with Joanna was rendered extremely unhappy by his infidelity and political insecurity, during which he consistently attempted to usurp her legal birthrights of power. This led in great part to the rumours of her insanity due to reports of depressive or neurotic acts committed while she was being imprisoned or coerced by her husband; most historians now agree she was merely clinically depressed at the time, not insane as commonly believed. The couple had six children. In 1504, Philip’s mother-in-law died, leaving the Crown of Castile to Joanna. Isabella I’s widower and former co-monarch, King Ferdinand II, endeavoured to lay hands on the regency of Castile, but the nobles, who disliked and feared him, forced him to withdraw. Philip was summoned to Spain, where he was recognised as king. 

However, en route to Spain in January 1506, Philip and Joanna were caught in a tempest and shipwrecked off the Dorset coast, forcing them on shore near Melcombe Regis. The couple stayed as guests of Henry VII of England but were in fact hostages for the duration of their stay. To get released Philip was forced to sign a treaty with Henry VII which included a mutual defence pact, the extradition of rebels, including the Earl of Suffolk who as an exile was a guest of Philip in the Low Countries, and a trade agreement which allowed English merchants to import cloth duty-free into the Low Countries. After handing over Suffolk, Philip and Joanna were allowed to leave England after a stay of six weeks. Joanna saw only two hours to her sister Catherine at Windsor Castle. Having, as a young prince, met Philip the Handsome in the English court, the future King Henry VIII of England regarded him as providing a model of leadership towards which he aspired. 

Philip landed, with his wife, at A Coruña on 28 April 1506, accompanied by a body of German mercenaries. Ferdinand met Philip at Villafáfila and handed over the government of Castile to his “most beloved children”, promising to retire to Aragon. Philip and Ferdinand then signed a second treaty, agreeing that Joanna’s mental instability made her incapable of ruling and promising to exclude her from government. Ferdinand then proceeded to repudiate the agreement the same afternoon, declaring that Joanna should never be deprived of her rights as Queen Proprietress of Castile. A fortnight later, having come to no fresh agreement with Philip and thus effectively retaining his right to interfere if he considered his daughter’s rights to have been infringed upon, he abandoned Castile for Aragon, leaving Philip to govern in Joanna’s stead. However, Philip died suddenly at Burgos, apparently of typhoid fever, on 25 September 1506. His wife supposedly refused to allow his body to be buried or to part from it for a while. King Philip I is entombed at the Royal Chapel of Granada alongside his wife, and her parents Isabella I and Ferdinand II. (x)

Raúl Mérida played Philip the Handsome in the third season of  ”Isabel” (2014)

Erté, La Toison d’Or

Costume Design for “The Golden Fables” (1926) George White’s Scandals, New York 1926

I am insane about Erté. I mean, okay, I am insane about most designers/illustrators from the early part of the 20th century I have come across, but Erté has a special place in my heart. He knew just how to parallel lines and soft curves link together in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. He also made great use of detailed patterns, which is one of my favorite things in illustration (i.e. Harry Clarke,) and chose wonderful color palettes, often subdued but with one really striking color. I just finished looking through Erté’s pieces on the Met archives, and was having a hard time choosing a favorite to post here. 

Anyway, I decided finally that I liked this the most. It’s very characteristic of his style, but the ram’s-horns-headdress is something I really like; I’ve always found horns to be exceptionally interesting in designs and illustrations.


Golden Fleece is almost legendary - the first time we brought in this wild-picked Yunnan Black tea, it sold out completely in less than two hours. 

Since then, we’ve worked to bring in as much as we can with each season. Though difficult to source and very limited in quantity, this tea is so beautiful and stunning, we feel morally compelled to share it with you whenever we can.

The majority of the 2014 Spring Harvest has already been sold through pre-orders. If you want to try this exquisite Dian Hong, do not wait to order. Every harvest is unique, and this Spring’s harvest is only available while supplies last.

Flavor Notes: silky, creamy, full-bodied, tingling citrus orange, cinnamon by the bucketful, caramelized yunnan mushrooms, sweet potato cream whipped