The early years of the twentieth century rank among the most peaceful in European history. In Britain's grand homes it was a time of glamour, high society, and unfettered optimism. Retinues of servants, beautiful houses, and fabulous costumes: the parties were extravagant, the scandal was infamous. In reality, however, the picture was less than golden; the historic order was starting to crumble. With World War I looming, and new technology, money, and ideas coming over from America, the British aristocracy were being threatened by deepening undercurrents of change as the nation stood at the brink of an upheaval so monumental that few could imagine it.