One of the Great War’s consequences may have been the dethronement of the Romanovs, Habsburgs and Hohenzollerns but — as a new generation of scholars are attempting to show — court politics proved far more enduring. Although the costumes may have been cut from coarser cloth and the manners far cruder, the centres of power in totalitarian regimes continued to provide all the old opportunities for positional jostling that had been commonplace in the audience chambers and ante-rooms of the old dynasties.

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