The FitzOsbornes of Montmaray are figments of the author's imagination, but many of the other names mentioned in A Brief History of Montmaray belong to real, historical people.
William of Normandy, also known as William the Conqueror, defeated the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. One of his viceroys was a man called William fitzOsbern, who supervised the construction of a number of early Norman castles (although none in Cornwall).
King Henry the Eighth (1491-1547, pictured at right in a portrait by Hans Holbein) is famous for having six wives. Poor Catherine Howard was one of the wives he beheaded. The other, Anne Boleyn, was the mother of Queen Elizabeth the First (1533-1603). Among other achievements, Queen Elizabeth (or rather, her navy) defeated the Spanish Armada. She really did have dreadful handwriting, though. You can see a sample of it here.
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) was one of a group of revolutionaries who overthrew King Charles the First in 1649. Cromwell later became Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. His forces were responsible for the destruction of a number of castles during the English Civil War.
Queen Anne (1665-1714) ruled over Britain at a time when most of Europe was at war. The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) involved Britain and its allies trying to stop the French prince, Philip of Anjou, inheriting the Spanish throne. Henry St John negotiated the Treaty of Utrecht with Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Torcy, which helped bring an end to the war. The peace talks weren't held at Montmaray, of course, but if they had been, Henry St John might well have presented the Montmaravians with a statue of Laocoön to express his gratitude.
Das Kapital, a book containing Karl Marx's theories about people, money and power, inspired Communist revolutions around the world. One of these was the Bolshevik uprising in 1917, which overthrew the Russian royal family. The Bolshevik leader, Lenin, ordered the deaths of Tsar Nicholas, his wife and their children (pictured at left). Despite the claims of a number of hoaxers, there is no evidence that Anastasia, the youngest daughter, survived. Some of the more distant relatives of the Tsar managed to escape with their treasures, including jewelled eggs made by Fabergé.
After Lenin's death in 1924, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was ruled by Josef Stalin, who was responsible for the deaths of millions of his citizens.
Supporters of Fascism claimed it was a cure for the disease of Communism, although both political movements produced dictators guilty of horrendous crimes against humanity. In Italy, Mussolini seized power in 1922. Portugal was ruled by Salazar. In Spain, Franco began a rebellion against the democratically-elected government in 1936, which led to the Spanish Civil War.
The most powerful Fascist regime in Europe was led by Adolf Hitler (pictured at right with Mussolini) in Germany. The Nazi Party came to power in 1933. The Nazi elite forces, the SS, were led by Heinrich Himmler. He took a close interest in the research activities of the Ahnenerbe, an organisation that attempted to prove the superiority of the German race. Wolfram Sievers, leader of the Ahnenerbe from 1936 to 1938, was executed for crimes against humanity at the end of the Second World War. Among the academics who were funded by the Ahnenerbe was a young historian named Otto Rahn. His obsession with the Holy Grail led him on expeditions to France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Iceland (although not Montmaray). He later fell out of favour with the Nazi authorities, resigned from his position and died in mysterious circumstances in 1939. Another Nazi mentioned in A Brief History of Montmaray is Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was Germany's Ambassador to Britain from 1936 to 1938.
In Britain, Oswald Mosley established the British Union of Fascists in 1932. After his first wife died, he married Diana Guinness in a ceremony at which Hitler was the guest of honour. Diana was one of the famous Mitford sisters. The eldest, Nancy, was a novelist and biographer; Unity fell in love with Hitler and shot herself when Britain declared war on Germany in 1939; Jessica became a Communist, eloped with Winston Churchill's nephew and ran away to the Spanish Civil War; and Deborah became the Duchess of Devonshire.
Other people mentioned in A Brief History of Montmaray include Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, German composer Richard Wagner, Irish writer Oscar Wilde (pictured at left) and the English author of The Book of Household Management, Mrs Beeton.
Sophie FitzOsborne uses quotes from Rudyard Kipling, William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Edward Lear in her journal. She also refers to the following novels and short stories: Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and David Copperfield, The Magic Fishbone and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.