25 Interesting Facts about Princesse de Lamballe

Princesse de Lamballe
Princesse de Lamballe, Courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France

Princesse de Lamballe was born in Turin, Italy, on 8 September 1749, the 251st day of the Gregorian calendar, which was a Monday. What many people remember about the Princesse is her beheading and the horrid way in which she died. However, there are many other interesting facts about the Princesse that you may or may not know, and I have selected twenty-five below:

  1. Princesse de Lamballe was a favorite of Marie Antoinette. In fact, because of their close relationship, Marie Antoinette revived a position known as Superintendent of the Household. One of the benefits of this position was the Princesse could determine who had access to the Queen.
  2. Freemasonry was one way the Princesse spent her free time. If you are interested in learning more about free masonry in France in the 1700s, click here. Continue reading

Accused Glasgow Murderess Known as Madeleine Smith From the 1850s

Accused Glasgow Murderess Known as Madeleine Smith: Madeleine Smith
Madeleine Smith, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The accused Glasgow murderess known as Madeleine Smith was alleged to have killed Frenchman Pierre Emile L’Angelier (or Emile L’Angelier) in 1857. L’Angelier originally came from the Channel Islands, an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. The two began a secret love affair in 1855 that involved hundreds of love letters and clandestine meetings at her bedroom window. One of these clandestine meetings resulted in Madeleine losing her virginity to L’Angelier.

L’Angelier had left the Channel Islands to seek his fortune in Scotland in 1851. When he first arrived in Scotland, he lived in grinding poverty and depended on the charity of inn keepers. Eventually, he began working as a clerk at a warehouse and then began assisting a gardener as an apprentice for moderate wages. By steadiness and assiduity, he improved his lot over time. Continue reading

Battlefield Communication Using Drums and Drumming

Battlefield Communication Using Drums and Drumming
Related to America’s War of Independence, This Illustration is a Famous Depiction From the 19th-century Called “The Spirit of ’76” by Archibald Willard, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Battlefield communication using drums and drumming was an important military aspect of war, and this type of communication lasted well into the nineteenth century. During this time, the drum most popular among drummers was the ordinary drum that consisted of a wooden or brass cylinder with a skin head at either end, and described in the following way:

“The skins [on these drums] are lapped at their edges around a small hoop which encircles the cylinder, and a large hoop rests on this and presses it down in place. The large hoops at each end are connected by an endless cord, running through holes in their outer edges and zigzagging up and down the sides of the cylinder from hoop to hoop. Each loop of this cord is surrounded by a sliding leather brace, and by pushing these down, so as to draw the loops together, or up, so as to loosen them, the drum is tightened or slackened, and the clear, tense or harsh, loose notes produced.”

Although it might appear that drum beats were simple, every beat was actually regulated and it was only through “long practice” that perfection by a drummer was attained. Furthermore, to achieve this perfection it was claimed that the drummer had to possess “a quick and nimble wrist.” Drum beats were also regular in the number and the division of strokes that could be produced using the two sticks. Thus, one person noted that if all the drummers in the British Army were assembled together, they would all beat alike.

Different drum beats and rolls signaled different commands to the troops and there were various regulation beats that included the following:

Continue reading

Sophie Blanchard: First Female to Fly a Balloon Solo

Sophie Blanchard: First Female to Fly a Balloon Solo
Sophie Blanchard, Public Domain

Although preceded by other women in the air, Sophie Blanchard was the first female to fly a balloon solo. She got into ballooning because of her husband, pioneer balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard. The story goes that Jean-Pierre was passing through the village of Trois-Cantons, near Rochelle, saw a pregnant woman working in the field, and told her that if her child proved to be a girl, he would marry the girl when she turned 16.

Jean-Pierre was already married when he made the promise to Sophie’s mother, and likely had already abandoned his first wife, Victoire Lebrun, and his four children. On 25 March 1778, Marie Madeleine Sophie Armand was born. Jean-Pierre kept his marriage promise, but exactly when Jean-Pierre and Sophie married is unclear. The earliest is 1794, but the most frequent date given coincides with Sophie’s 1804 ascent. Continue reading

I’m Guest Blogging

Marquis de Lafayette, Author’s Collection

Because of the U.S. release of my book, “Marie Antoinette’s Confidante,” I am a lucky enough to be the guest of Joanne Major and Sarah Murden at their blog “All Things Georgian.” Joanne and Sarah have written several books, including “An Infamous Mistress” and “A Right Royal Scandal.” You can learn more about these books and read my guest post, “Marquis de Lafayette and His Affair with Aglaé of Hunolstein,” by clicking here.

Marriage of Lord Glamis and Miss Cavendish Bentinck

Cecilia Nina Cavendish Bentinck when the Countess of Strathmore by Mabel Hankey, 1923, Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Today’s guests are Sarah Murden and Joanne Major. They are are authors of several books, including “A Right Royal Scandal” that has just released in the United States. Here is their guest post.

Cecilia Nina Cavendish Bentinck was born in 1862. Her parents were the well-connected Rev Charles Cavendish Bentinck and his second wife, Caroline Louisa née Burnaby. At the age of 18-years, Cecilia Nina married Claude Bowes-Lyon, Lord Glamis and the future 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne and, in time, their youngest daughter Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon would become better known to history as Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.

Our latest book, “A Right Royal Scandal,” takes a closer look at Reverend Charles Cavendish Bentinck and his wider family. Today we’d like to share a newspaper report on Cecilia Nina’s marriage with you. It’s from the Nottingham Evening Post, 18th July 1881. Continue reading

John Bellingham, Assassin of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval

John Bellingham, Assassin of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval
John Bellingham, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Russian ship Soleure (or Sojus) belonged to Solomon van Brienen and Vassiley Popoff, and it was lost at sea in 1803. At the time, it was insured through Lloyd’s of London. The ship’s owners filed a claim to receive restitution for their loss. Unfortunately, Lloyd’s of London received an anonymous letter alleging the ship had been sabotaged, and, so, they refused to pay compensation to the owners. At the time, John Bellingham was working in Russia as an export representative. Van Brienen believed Bellingham had sent the letter to Lloyd’s of London and, therefore, he and Popoff took retaliatory action against Bellingham by claiming Bellingham owed them a debt of 4,890 rubles. Continue reading

Nine Singing Rules for 18th Century Singers

The Note A or La, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Singing was a popular activity in the 1700s. One writer noted that when there was a large group of singers, the worst singer was often the person who got the greatest pleasure from the activity. To ensure people got the most pleasure out of singing, numerous song books were published. Among them was one that maintained when a person was in society, it was the person’s duty to be “conformable and good-humoured.” To accomplish that, there were nine singing rules for 18th century singers. Continue reading

The Turk: An Automaton Chess Player Hoax

automaton chess player hoax: Marie Theresa
Maria Theresa, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1767, an extraordinary automaton was designed. The inventor was a Hungarian gentleman named Wolfgang von Kempelen who promised the Empress Maria Theresa that he would construct an automaton within six months that would amuse, astound, and excite “the liveliest astonishment.” Six months later it appeared Kempelen had succeeded when he presented “The Turk.”

The Turk was a life-sized model with a human head and torso, wearing a Turban and dressed in Turkish robes. The Turk was seated behind a large cabinet with a chessboard placed in front, and it seemed able to beat any human opponent. However, in actuality, The Turk was an automaton chess player hoax because inside the cabinet was a concealed puppeteer described by one newspaper as a sort of “Jack-in-the-box.” The puppeteer by means of levers, moved the chess pieces and used strategy to win against his opponents. Continue reading

French Victorian Feminist Hubertine Auclert

French Victorian Feminist Hubertine Auclert
A Young Hubertine Auclert, Courtesy of Wikipedia

French Victorian feminist Hubertine Auclert was born to a middle-class family on 10 April 1848. At age 13, when her father died, she was sent to a Roman Catholic convent. She initially intended to become a nun, but she left the convent permanently after being rejected because of her vivacious personality. She then went to Paris, and shortly thereafter, Napoleon III was ousted and the Third Republic established. These changes encouraged activism by women, and women began to demand changes and greater rights. Inspired by others, Auclert then became involved in securing rights for women and because of her time spent in the convent, she became a militant anti-cleric. Continue reading