Lady Atkyns’s Plot to Save Marie Antoinette

Lady Atkyns's Plot to Save Marie Antoinette
Lady Charlotte Walpole Atkyns. Public Domain.

After Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, Royalists and friends were always on the lookout hoping to free the imprisoned Queen. Although there were many plots to save the Queen, some appear to be more legend than fact. One plot that seems to be more legend than fact is a plot by Lady Charlotte Walpole Atkyns, who is supposedly related to Britain’s famous Prime Minister, Robert Walpole.

The story goes that Atkyns had a short-lived career as an actress on the London stage at the Drury Lane Theatre. Her career lasted for two years, beginning in 1777 and ending in 1779, and it ended because Sir Edward Atkyns, of Ketteringham Hall, Norfolk fell in love with her and married her in June of 1779. Unfortunately, Atkyns was not accepted by Norfolk society and as her husband was suffering under heavy debts, the couple decided to move to France. Continue reading

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Sex Life

Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s sex life began when he was young. His story begins when he was born on 28 June 1712 in Geneva to a watchmaker named Isaac Rousseau and a woman named Suzanne. Suzanne died of puerperal fever nine days after his birth, so Rousseau and his older brother, François, were brought up by their father and a paternal aunt, also named Suzanne.

Around the age of ten, Rousseau’s father experienced legal troubles and he left town, taking Suzanne with him. Rousseau and François saw their father little after that and were left in the care of their mother’s brother, a Calvinist preacher named Samuel Bernard. Bernard soon shipped them off to Bossey where a Calvinist minister named Monsieur Lambercier, lived with his son and a daughter named Mademoiselle Lambercier. Rousseau wrote of his time at Bossey, stating: Continue reading

A Georgian Footman’s Guide to Opening the Door and Announcing Names

Footman. Author’s Collection.

The Georgian footman’s job was to open the door and announce names, and this task began when someone knocked at the door. The footman was to go immediately to the door, and, if for some reason he was unavailable to answer the door, he was to arrange with a fellow-servant to perform the task because it was considered improper and unpleasant to keep someone waiting. Footmen were advised that

“A little time is of great consequence to some persons, and particularly to tradespeople who may have another appointment to attend to; consider also that whenever you delay unnecessarily going to the door, or answering the bell, you are off your duty and culpable for being so.”

If a double knock occurred at the street door, the footman was to inquiry as to who was on the other side of the door. However, before doing so, the footman was to have already inquired within the family whether they were willing to see anyone. If they were willing to see someone, there was to be no confusion when the footman asked the question as to who was at the door. When opening the street door to a visitor, the door was to be thrown wide open but not so wide or hard as to damage the door handle or the wall. The footman was then to stand with the door open at the sill of the door and receive the visitor or answer any message delivered. Continue reading

Pichegru Conspiracy

Jean-Charles Pichegru and Georges Cadoudal, Public Domain

The Pichegru Conspiracy, also known the Cadoudal Affair, was a conspiracy to overthrow Napoleon Bonaparte’s military regime. The conspiracy involved royalists Jean-Charles Pichegru and Georges Cadoudal. Pichegru had served briefly in the American Revolution and as a distinguished general in the French Revolutionary Wars, and Cadoudal was a Breton politician and leader of the Chouannerie during the French Revolution.

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Vehicle Titles, Origins, and Descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s, L-R

vehicle titles, origins, and descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s
Landaulette From 1816. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between vehicles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from L to R.

Landau – It is believed that the name came from the German town Landau, in Bavaria, where it was supposedly first built. A description of the Landau in 1790 claims: Continue reading

Margaret Dickson was Executed, Survived, and Pardoned

Margaret Dickson was Executed, Survived, and Pardoned: Margaret Dickson
Margaret Dickson Rising From Her Coffin. Public Domain.

Margaret Dickson was executed, survived, and pardoned, and because of it she was nicknamed “ill hangit Maggy Dickson.” Her story begins with her birth in Musselburgh, Scotland, near Edinburgh in 1702. When she was an adult, she married a fisherman and together they had several children. However, Dickson found herself practically single because her husband was impressed and went to sea aboard a warship.

In Scotland, at the time, any woman who committed fornication was punished publicly. The punishment occurred over three Sundays with the fornicator seated in the most conspicuous place in church and receiving a public rebuke from the minister. This spectacle resulted in people attending church who never attended just so that they could see offenders shamed. Female offenders found the punishment so embarrassing, some “destroyed the fruits of their amours, rather than be made a spectacle to all the inhabitants of the parish.” Continue reading

Cécile-Aimée Renault and Attempted Assassination of Robespierre

Cécile-Aimée Renault, Public Domain
Cécile-Aimée Renault, Public Domain

Born in 1774 in Paris, Cécile-Aimée Renault arrived at the foot of the guillotine on 17 June 1794 in what is now the Place de la Nation. It all began one day when the 20-year-old seamstress presented herself at the home of the Duplay family, where Maximilien Robespierre was temporarily staying. She asked to speak to him, and as she was young and appeared harmless, she was ushered into his anti-chamber. She waited for a long time and was eventually told that he was unavailable and that she should leave. She replied:

“A public man … ought to receive at all times, those who have occasion to approach him.”

Because Renault would not leave and because she became insistent that she needed to see Robespierre, a guard was called. He conducted a search and supposedly discovered she was carrying two small knives. Although the knives were hardly large enough to kill anyone, it was decided she had intended to murder Robespierre and was taken before the Committee of Public Safety where she was asked to explain herself. Eventually, the committee learned her name and that she was the one of seven children and the daughter of a paper maker, who was a royalist supporter. Continue reading

Vehicle Titles, Origins, and Descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s, D-K

Vehicle Titles, Origins, and Descriptions of the 1700 and 1800s
The Diligence. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between the vehicles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from D to K. Continue reading

21 Interesting Facts For Travelers to France in the Regency Era

Entrance to the Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique on the day of a free show. Painted by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1819). Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Travelers to France in the Regency Era were plentiful. In fact, one French newspaper published the number of English visitors to their country between the years 1815 and 1821. The London Magazine then reprinted the information in 1822 as follows:

“In 1815, 13,822; in 1816, 15,512; in 1817, 16,618; in 1818, 19,838; in 1819, 18,720; in 1820, 19,040; in 1821, 20,184!”

There were many sites for these English visitors to see and many places to visit that included public baths, palaces and hotels, hospitals, museums, literary societies, public libraries, manufacturing sites, theatres, halls and markets, squares, prisons, cemeteries, parks, gardens, cafes, triumphal arches, exhibitions and assembly rooms, eating establishments, and promenades and public walks. There were also at least 21 interesting facts that travelers to France might want to keep in mind during their visit. Continue reading

Le Chat Noir or The Black Cat of Victorian Times

Louis Rodolphe Salis, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Le Chat Noir or The Black Cat was established by an unsuccessful painter named Louis Rodolphe Salis. Salis’s father was a wine merchant in Chatellerault and wanted his son to be a tradesman. As Salis was unsuccessful in his chosen career, he began thinking about the maxims of his father and decided he needed to combine art and alcoholic beverages, thereby creating the idea of the modern cabaret. Salis’s idea was for patrons to sit at tables amid clouds of tobacco smoke, drink mugs of Bavarian beer, and enjoy a variety of stage acts, introduced by a master of ceremonies who interacted with the audience.

Le Chat Noir supposedly acquired its name in one of two ways. One claim was that its name came from the discovery of a dead rat under a divan. The second claim is that it was named after a picture which appeared in one of the exhibitions in Paris, which was bought or presented to the inn by the artist and described in the following way: “A black cat is represented standing on the shoulder of a woman, whose white skin and corsage are liberally displayed.” Continue reading