Gratified by the interest expressed by our subscribers throughout Christendom and beyond, the Chancellor Gottfried von Schirnhausen has authorised your humble scribes to publish in greater detail accounts of the affairs of the Court of His Grace Duke Ignaz.
Any study of the court of Duke Ignaz von der Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn must begin with a study of the three central figures of the court: His Grace the Duke, the Duchess Maria Josepha, the former Countess of Sachsen-Veldenz, and the indomitable Dowager Duchess Vittoria, now approaching her 87th year. The Duke and Duchess were married relatively late in the Duke's life, only 20 years ago, after the Duke suffered an unfortunate hunting mishap and was forced, during his lengthy recuperation, to give thought to the future of the Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn dynasty should he die without an heir. These reflections resulted in the alliance with Sachsen-Veldenz, a duchy on the opposite side of the Rhein which shares a border with Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn's rivals for the Lordship of Dolmen, the Princes of Waldreck. The last unmarried daughter of the late Duke of Sachsen-Veldenz, Maria Josepha, was duly betrothed to Ignaz, and their marriage at the Kognatdom on the eve of the Neuweinsfest marked one of the last such festivals unmarred by riots. The Duke and Duchess have been blessed with 5 daughters, but the Duke's hoped-for male heir has yet to materialise, and the advancing age of the Duchess is beginning to become a cause for concern within the Duke's court.
The Duke was only 7 years old when his father met his untimely demise; his minority was overseen by the Dowager Duchess, who secured his wardship by the new Emperor after Leopold's death resulted in the first of what were to be repeated oversights by the imperial court of Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn's ducal dignity, and, indeed, existence. Due to her sizable dowry's role both as the security for the massive reconstruction loans secured by her late husband, and as the chief source of income for the ducal court throughout Ignaz's minority, the Dowager Duchess' hand was eagerly sought both by the neighbouring nobility, especially the Prince of Waldreck, and various members of the court at Versailles. The Dowager Duchess instead temporised throughout her son's minority, returning the attentions of first one, and then another suitor, engineering a series of bloody encounters on the field of honour between the rivals until only an asthmatic count of the Gonzaga-Nevers family remained, with whom she maintained a warm but apologetic correspondence--he too ill to travel to court her in person, and she too retiring to travel unescorted--until his death 30 years ago. Her widowed life remained full of cultural and charitable concerns within Pfalz-Kognat-Obersayn, though, as she used her fortune to endow a breathtaking altar triptych for the Kognatdom cathedral, hospitals at the Augustinerkloster and at Bad Sankt Nikolaus, and the library of the university established by her late husband outside Hunsruck in the town of Achselfraktur.