Dean the Determined

LORELAI: Dean the determined.

An obvious play on epithets historically given to royalty – Ivan the Terrible, James the Just, Alfred the Great, Gerald the Fearless, Philip the Handsome, and so on.

There was a real royal with this epithet – Antonio the Determined [pictured], who managed to rule Portugal as Antony I for at least twenty days during a succession crisis. Although Philip II of Spain prevailed, Antonio did not gracefully admit defeat, but attempted to rule Portugal from the Azores, where he established an opposition government that clung on for three more years. He went into exile in France and England, taking the crown jewels with him.

In Antonio’s case, “determined” seems to be a polite word for “desperate”, or even “delusional”. Dean will likewise do his darnedest to grimly hang onto Rory, even when he knows he’s lost.

The Romanovs

EMILY: I’ll see you for dinner tonight, Lorelai. And Luke, I’m sure I’ll see you again soon. What do you think of the Romanovs?

LUKE: They probably had it coming.

EMILY: A match made in heaven.

The House of Romanov, the reigning imperial family of Russia from 1613 to 1917. They became prominent after the first Tsar of Russia, Ivan the Terrible, married Anastasia Romanova, the first Tsarina. It is from Anastasia’s name that the family became known as the Romanovs.

The abdication of Tsar Nicholas II during the Russian Revolution on 15 March 1917 ended 304 years of Romanov rule and paved the way for the formation of the Russian Republic. In July 1918, Bolshevik officials executed Nicholas and his family.

Although Lorelai refers to their murder as “the firing squad”, they were shot and bayoneted, then the bodies taken to the forest to be stripped, buried, then mutilated with grenades to prevent identification. This is what Luke thinks they “probably had coming”.

The Romanov burial site was discovered in 1979 by an amateur sleuth, but not officially confirmed by Russia until 1989. The remains were identified by forensic and DNA analysis, assisted by British experts, and in 1998 the remains were re-interred in a state funeral in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg. In 2000, Nicholas II was canonised as a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.

After the assassination of Nicholas and his family, the remaining 47 members of the Romanov family went into exile abroad, still claiming the former Russian throne. Since 1991, the line of succession has been in dispute.

[Picture shows Nicholas II of Russia with his wife Alexandra (Alix of Hesse), his son Alexei, and four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia].

EDIT: A date edited with the kind assistance of reader Omar.

King Tut

LUKE: My uncle, King Tut, has to take all of them to the afterlife with him!

Tutankhamun, commonly referred to as King Tut, ancient Egyptian pharaoh who was the last of his royal family to rule during the 18th Dynasty (ruled circa 1332-1323 BC). His tomb was discovered in 1922, sparking a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt. He was buried with over 5000 artefacts, with some of his treasures being exhibited around the world at various times.

Buckingham Palace and I Love Lucy

LORELAI: Hey, did you ever see that I Love Lucy where she goes to Buckingham Palace?
RORY: Mom.
LORELAI: She tries to get the palace guard to break character. That was a funny one.

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the monarch of the UK, located in the City of Westminster, the centre of London. It was originally a townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703, and acquired by King George III in 1761. It was enlarged during the 19th century, and became the monarch’s official home on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. Used for state functions and extending hospitality to visiting world leaders, it has been a focal point for the British at times of national rejoicing and mourning.

I Love Lucy, previously discussed and frequently mentioned. The episode Lorelai is talking about is Lucy Meets the Queen (1956), set during the season when Ricky is on his tour of Europe, and Lucy is accompanying him. Lucy visits Buckingham Palace as a tourist, and tries to make one of the Queen’s Guard outside the palace laugh by cracking jokes. The guards at Buckingham Place are famous for remaining stony-faced on duty – they are meant to be fined £200 if they don’t. They will sometimes smile and pose for pictures with polite, respectful tourists, especially children.

Queen Victoria

MICHEL: This is a drag club.
SOOKIE: It’s called the Queen Victoria. What did you expect, tea and crumpets?

Victoria, born Alexandrina Victoria (1819-1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 until her death. She became a national icon, and is identified with standards of strict morality that we still refer to as “Victorian”. Hr reign of more than 63 years was longer than any other of her predecessors, and is known as the Victorian Era, a period of industrial, scientific and cultural change in the UK, coupled with a great expansion of the British Empire.

Michel seems put out that he has been taken to a drag club, perhaps another signal that he was originally not presented as a gay character. Sookie mentions tea and crumpets as a favourite afternoon snack of the Victorian era (and still popular today).

The Queen Victoria is a fictional drag club. In real life there is a gay bar in Hartford where you can see drag shows, but it is not actually a drag club per se. The sign outside the Queen Victoria identifies it as a “bar and grill” (unless that is the place next door) and in real life, Hartford has a couple of bars and cafes that have regular drag shows.

Princess Grace

PARIS: You have to go to college.
LOUISE: Princess Grace didn’t go to college.

Princess Grace, born Grace Kelly (1929-1982) was an American actress who began her career on television and starred in several Alfred Hitchcock films, such as Dial M for Murder (1953), Rear Window (1953), and To Catch a Thief (1955). She also starred in the classic western High Noon (1952) and the musical High Society (1956), winning a Best Actress at the Academy Awards for The Country Girl (1954).

She retired from acting to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956, becoming Princess Grace of Monaco, and having three children. As a princess, she founded children’s charity AMADE, formed the Princess Grace Foundation for artisans in Monaco, and became known as a fashion icon, being inducted into the Best Dressed Hall of Fame in 1960.

Louise is correct – Princess Grace, who came from a wealthy family and attended prestigious private schools, was rejected by Bennington College in 1947, due to her low scores in Mathematics. However, she graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, the oldest acting school in the English-speaking world, so she did have a distinguished tertiary education.

Diana

LORELAI: And then there’s the full on Diana [veil].
RORY: Right, right.
LORELAI: Which is nice, but it just might be a little …

Lorelai is referring to Diana, Princess of Wales, born Diana Spencer (1961-1997). Diana married Charles, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne, in 1981. At their wedding in St. Paul’s Cathedral, she wore an ivory silk and lace vintage-style wedding dress with a 25 foot long train; her tulle veil was likewise very long, and floated behind her as she walked.

Diana and Charles divorced in 1996 – another famously disastrous marriage to give a hint to Lorelai.

Fergie

TRIX: Raising your voice during high tea, whoever heard of such a thing? It’s like Fergie all over again.

Trix is referring to Sarah, Duchess of York (born Sarah Ferguson in 1959), a British royal known as “Fergie” by the British press. She married Prince Andrew in 1986; after having two daughters, they separated in 1992, and divorced in 1996.

Fergie’s demeanour as a royal was always very casual, and she could be loud and exuberant socially, which people either found a breath of fresh air, or like Trix, rather vulgar. We can see from her comment that Trix has been in high society in London, although the fact that she calls the duchess by her “press name” betrays that she doesn’t really know her at all.

“Let them eat cake”

PARIS: God, this is so weird. I can’t stop smiling.
RORY: Good, then it’s a good time to talk about our over-taxed peasants.
PARIS: Oh, let them eat cake.

Paris is referring to Marie Antoinette, the wife of King Louis XVI, and the last queen of France before the French Revolution.

“Let them eat cake” is a phrase popularly ascribed to Marie Antoinette upon being told the peasants were starving and had no bread to eat. The phrase supposedly demonstrates either an indifference to their plight, or a complete lack of understanding of it. It doesn’t fit with what we know of Marie Antoinette, who was quite concerned with the poor, and donated generously to charitable causes.

She almost certainly did not say it. It comes from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions (1782), where he mentions a “great princess” who once said it. Not only does he not name the princess, but that part of his autobiography covers the years when Marie Antoinette would have been a little girl in Austria. He may have invented the anecdote entirely.

Spanish Inquisition

PARIS: Those [cards in her jacket pocket] are notes for tonight.
RORY: Notes?
PARIS: Yeah. Just some reference points really – you know, subjects to bring up in case the conversation lags.
RORY: Well, can I suggest that you leave this one about the Spanish Inquisition out?

The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, commonly known as the Spanish Inquisition, was established in 1478 by Ferdinand II and Isabella I.

Intended to establish Catholic orthodoxy through Spain and its territories, its main purpose was to identify heretics among those who converted to Catholicism from Judaism and Islam and to test their sincerity. As Jews and Muslims were forced to either convert to Christianity or leave the country, it was little wonder their conversions might not have always been genuine.

Around 3000 to 5000 people were executed under the Spanish Inquisition, and it wasn’t officially abolished until 1834, although its influence had declined steadily for centuries.