Friday, 7 June 2013

An A to Z of Strackenz

I recently wrote a blog entry that was entitled ‘An A to Z of Ruritania’, and since then I have read George MacDonald Fraser’s book, ROYAL FLASH … and as there are so many similarities, I thought that I would produce ‘An A to Z of Strackenz’.

(According to George MacDonald Fraser’s ‘hero’, Harry Flashman, the author of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA – Antony Hope – plagiarised his story after hearing Flashman tell it to him ‘in confidence’.)

  • Jotun Gipfel: A range of rugged hills running through the centre of the Duchy of Strackenz
  • Jotunberg, Castle of: Remote and partially ruined castle used as a prison for the kidnapped Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark
  • Jotunschlucht: A gorge in the Jotun Gipfel
  • Jotunsee: A lake situated next to Jotunberg Castle
  • Schönhausen: Otto von Bismarck’s country estate
  • Strackenz, City of: Capital of the Duchy of Strackenz
  • Strackenz, Duchy of: Small Duchy sandwiched between Holstein and Mecklenburg. The majority of the Duchy’s population is made up of people who are Danish or German in origin.
  • Strelhow: A hunting lodge
  • Bersonin: One of Rudi von Starnberg’s assistants
  • Bismarck, Otto von: Leader of the conspirators behind the plot to instigate a war that will result in the absorption of the Duchy of Strackenz into the German (i.e. Prussian) sphere of influence
  • Carl Gustaf of Denmark, Prince: Nephew of King Christian of Denmark. Betrothed to Duchess Irma of Strackenz.
  • De Gautet: One of Rudi von Starnberg’s assistants
  • Detchard: Personal assistant to Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark, and one of the conspirators
  • Einar: Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark's former valet
  • Flashman, Harry: Doppelganger of Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark. Ex-bully of Harrow School and an officer in the British Army. Noted coward and rascal. Often mistaken for a hero.
  • Grundvig, Doctor Per: One of the leaders of the pro-Danish Sons of the Volsungs
  • Hansen, Eric: Danish Ambassador to Berlin and boyhood friend of Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark. Also a member of the Sons of the Volsungs.
  • Helga: Duchess Irma’s lady-in-waiting
  • Irma, Duchess: Ruler of the Duchy of Strackenz
  • Josef: Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark's new valet
  • Karjuss, Doctor: Munich magistrate
  • Kraftstein: One of Rudi von Starnberg’s assistants
  • Landsfeld, Gräfin: Mistress of King Ludwig of Bavaria. Formerly and variously known as Lola Montez, Mrs Rosanna James, and Marie Dolores Eliza Rosanna Gilbert
  • Lauengram: Gräfin Landsfeld’s Chamberlain
  • Ostred, Doctor: Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark’s personal doctor
  • Pechman, Baron: Former Commissioner of Police for Munich
  • Pechman, Baroness: Wife of the former Commissioner of Police for Munich and the honey trap used to ensnare Harry Flashman into the plot
  • Saldern, Marshal von: Constable of Strackenz
  • Sapten, Major: One of the leaders of the pro-Danish Sons of the Volsungs
  • Schwerin, Adolf: Chief Minister of Strackenz
  • Starnberg, Freiherr Rudi von: Bismarck’s Austrian-born lieutenant and co-conspirator.
  • Steubel: Strackenzian aide to the fake Prince Carl Gustaf of Denmark
  • Wessel, Fähnrich (Lieutenant): Commander of Duchess Irma’s immediate bodyguard at the time of the plot
Army Units
  • Strackenz Grenadiers: A unit of the Strackenzian Army
  • Duchess’s Guard: A unit of the Strackenzian Army. They wear a distinctive uniform that includes a yellow tunic.


  1. One of my favoritest villains, the Freiherr Rudi von Starnberg, Austrian nobleman and adventurer - cognate to another of my favorite villains, Rupert of Hentzau.

    I daresay GMcDF didn't have a place in his story for Fritz von Tarlenheim;
    and he does change some names slightly. Colonel Sapt becomes Sapten, of indeterminant rank; Strelsau becomes Strelhow; Zenda becomes the Jotunberg...

    Both are great stories, and strangely complement each other.

  2. Archduke Piccolo,

    There are hints in ROYAL FLASH that Rudi has an 'interesting' career after the plot in Strackenz fails, and that he is part of the victorious Prussian Army that marches on Paris in 1870.

    George MacDonald Fraser does mention a von Tarlenheim in his story. He is the nobleman with whom Prince Carl Gustaf is staying overnight just before he enters Strackenz to get married.

    The two stories are sufficiently different to work together, and GMF writes in such a way that he almost convinces you that his is the true story and Hope's is the adapted/plagiarised version!

    All the best,


  3. I had forgotten that Fritz did get at least a brief mention. Incidentally, neither G McD F nor Flashy von Nowhere mention that Flashy himself must have related to Anthony Hope Hawkins the story of his involvement with Lola Montez. At any rate the author of 'The Prisoner of Zenda' also wrote 'Sophy of Kravonia', which, I have to agree with popular opinion, was nowhere near as good as the former novel. Sophy ends pretty much as Lola did, losing everything.

  4. Archduke Piccolo,

    I had not heard of SOPHY OF KRAVONIA before, but I have now read a synopsis of the plot and it does sound as if Antony Hope based it on a watered-down version of Lola Montez's life. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It will make an interesting addition to my library of nineteenth century fiction.

    All the best,


  5. Gadzooks good sir, I had thought you read the Flashman books years ago! I understand they were mandatory reading fare like the Hornblower books for old gamers. By the way, I found this list of fictional ships used in stories that might be of some interesting

  6. CoastConFan,

    I read all the FLASHMAN books as they were published, and have re-read them several times since. It just so happened that I bought the first two books in the series for my Kindle so that I had something to read whilst on my latest cruise.

    The list of fictional ships is very interesting, and thanks for bringing it to my notice.

    All the best,